“During my Dad’s funeral last year, my long-time friend took me away from the crowd. She’d lost her Dad a decade prior, in her twenties, a time when friends aren’t the best equipped to help with the serious stuff. I still wonder if we helped her at all. She gave me a hug and said, “Welcome to the Dead Dad Club. No one wants to be a member, but at least we have each other.”
The full text in English is in Janine’s page on Medium, but I transcribe her great advice:
Share your memories. Your experience with the deceased was unique, with some moments shared in private. In the days immediately following my Dad’s death, so many people who loved him emailed and texted us with little stories and thoughts. His favorite pastry was sfogliatella. Everyone in his orbit felt special and loved. He never got mad. Tiny mysteries of my Dad’s life were uncovered in those notes, and I consumed them greedily.
Reach out. It matters. And please, don’t try to relate this experience to your own death experience. “When my Grandma passed away…” It’s not your moment.
Write cards. I received a handwritten card from every member of the Dead Dad Club that I knew. From now on, I will never skip this step, of taking the time to write my love and thoughts on a piece of paper
Send food. One dear friend trekked to my Dad’s favorite Middle Eastern restaurant to provide a feast for the night before the wake. Another sent a basket full of comfort food to eat in the middle of the day. One more shared a spread of bagels before the funeral procession. On the days that no one sent food, my Mom and I got by on donuts and Chardonnay.
Don’t apologize. Some friends sent cards and flowers several weeks after my Dad had passed away, and they always came with an apology. “I’m so sorry this is late.” We didn’t take inventory, of who sent what, when. The flowers that came a few months after his death reminded me of his love, the thing Dead Dad Club members try so very hard to preserve.
Be forgiving. Newly inducted Dead Dad Club members might be terrible friends for a while. Some might not be very diligent at work, others will throw themselves into it. A few will want to party, several might go into a hole. They might be different, maybe for good. Forgive them, and stick by their sides.
Remember. Months later, a friend took me to lunch and asked “Okay, how are you doing now? I know this doesn’t go away.” She caught me off guard, a realization that I wasn’t actually doing so well. For me, 1 year later feels a lot worse than 1 month later. So it means a lot when people still remember to remember him.