Acts of Kindness
The death of a loved one can leave us feeling small and powerless. Participating in an act of kindness on behalf of your loved one can leave you feeling more powerful and can provide a sense of purpose when that feels missing. You can do these activities as a family, or your child may want to do some on their own.
There are probably many people who are also feeling sad over the death of your loved one, such as their caregivers, friends, other relatives, or community members they had an impact on. You can help comfort one or more of them by preparing a care package including tissues, lozenges (or other items to soothe a throat that may be sore from crying), eye drops, a sympathy card.
Are there other personal things you could include? If your loved one had care providers (i.e. hospice workers, nurses or doctors who provided extra good care and support, etc.), you may want to take this time to thank them. Consider sending these people a thank you note or care package as well.
Creating something positive out of your loss can give you a sense of purpose and power during a time when you may feel robbed of those things. To honor your loved one, you can set a kindness goal as a family or as individuals. Choose a number of acts of kindness you’d like to do, and begin making the world a better place. These acts could remind you of your loved one or could be things you know your loved one would have liked to see you do.
On pages 24 & 25 of her book More Creative Coping Skills for Children, Bonnie Thomas offers the following ideas for ways to connect kindly with others:
• Smile at someone.
• Do a chore at home without being asked to.
• Call a relative to say hello and/or check on them.
• Draw or write a kind note for your younger sibling and put it in their coat pocket, lunchbox, or backpack to find later.
• Pick up litter.
• Tell someone you appreciate them.
• Offer to help your teacher with the classroom clean-up.
• Be generous and share.
• Leave a lucky penny (or other good luck charm) for someone to find.
• Thank someone for doing their job well.
• Read a book to someone younger than you.
• Write a thank you note or draw a picture for your mail delivery person, and leave it in your mailbox for them.
• Use chalk to write a positive message for passers by on the sidewalk or driveway.
• Give a loved one a hug.
• Make a card for your neighbor.
• Add your own ideas!
When a loved one dies, their family members are often sad because they will not be able to create any new memories with that person. Sharing your own stories of the person who died in a letter can give their family members new stories to enjoy again and again through reading your letter. Do you have stories that show how special your loved one was? How funny? How generous? What are special memories you’d like them to know about?
Sometimes people die from diseases for which specific foundations are searching for cures. Donating money to such an organization in honor of your loved one may provide you with a sense of fighting back against the sickness to which your loved one succumbed. If you don’t have enough money to donate, perhaps you could make a care package to send to the people who work there, along with a story about your loved one and why they were so special. If you offer to pay for a book for a public library, they will often be willing to put a memorial bookplate in the front. This book could be a favorite of your loved one, or it could be one that raises awareness of whatever illness caused the death of your loved one.
Maybe it’s something you did together, maybe it’s something they had a special talent for. Regardless, walking in the footsteps of your loved one can provide you with insight into their life that you may not have previously had. Did they play the trombone? Pick one up and try it! Did they love fishing in a special spot? Head over there and give it a try! Did they have a favorite game they always wanted to play? Bust it out, and enjoy it again!
Another way to contribute to causes that are fighting to save lives is by participating in a race, marathon, or fundraiser. Through these activities, foundations raise money to research ways to cure diseases or prolong life. Your participation as a family or individual isn’t just about donating to a cause that is meaningful to you, it’s also about participating in a healthy lifestyle that leads to a longer and more enjoyable quality of life.
Thomas, B., (2016) More Creative Coping Skills: Activities, Games, Stories, and Handouts to Help Children Self-Regulate. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.