The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 03-27-2011, 08:31 PM
flatlined flatlined is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Someone died. What do you bring or do for the family?

BG: I ride with a military support Motorcycle Club. Many of the members are retired Marines, some of them are active duty Marines and we all ride on 2 or 3 wheels. As a result of this, club members die more often than I'd like.

Last night, a friend and his girlfriend were hit by someone blowing through a red light. She's dead and he's still on a breathing tube. It sucks.

Some of us went to visit the lady's family. I brought food and cash as did most others. One lady brought paper plates, napkins, plastic cuttlery and a big package of toilet paper. At first, I thought that was kinda weird. Toilet paper? Really? But after thinking further, I realized it was very thoughtful.

So, because I know this is going to happen again and probably too soon, I thought I'd ask the smartest people in the world...what do you do to help the family out in the first few days?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 03-27-2011, 08:47 PM
6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast 6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2010
I take (or buy - depending on which I can leave) a suitably big pot, and all the makings for chicken soup. I stay and make it in the house. Always, (and it's a big part of it) people want to help. It takes a while, it's soothing, it gives everyone something to do, and there's food for a few days even when you don't feel much like eating. Not once has it ever failed to give the opportunity for a bit of a laugh too - maybe because there's something comforting about it.

I think when there's grief, those in it want people around, but they don't want to be just sitting with them staring at the floor while the clock ticks in the background. Cooking chicken soup means that you can have those silences as well; but somehow it's just quiet, rather than uncomfortable.

And as for arriving and taking over the kitchen, at times like this, nobody minds someone taking control of something for them - when you're feeling numb, it's nice to be gently 'bossed around' for a bit.

Always, the pot is a keeper for them - thinking about how and when to return it is not something they need..
__________________
Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, & Derision
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 03-27-2011, 08:55 PM
elbows elbows is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: London, Ontario
Posts: 8,909
If they have a dog, drop by to walk it. If they have kids, offer to take them to the park for a few hours.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 03-27-2011, 09:14 PM
Baker Baker is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Tottering-on-the-Brink
Posts: 14,641
More than once I've done what that one woman in the OP did. Paper products to eat of of, plastic utensils, paper towels, TP, and so on. Lot's of folks bring food, and that's needed, but doing dishes is a drag when you are happy, and worse when you are not.

I try to keep trash to a minimum and reduce waste, but there are just times when throwing away is less of a hassle.

I've heard of people offering to do laundry and such. I hadn't thought about walking dogs, but that sounds like a good idea too.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 03-27-2011, 09:20 PM
KinkiNipponTourist KinkiNipponTourist is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Damn, I'm sorry to hear about your friends, flatlined.

Erm, up in New England we usually bring a case of beer, but I like the other posts on this thread better. 6Impossible's post is great.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 03-27-2011, 09:22 PM
KinkiNipponTourist KinkiNipponTourist is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
As I typed that out, I caught myself thinking "f-f-flatlined???"

C-can I ask how you came to choose your name here? Please be reassuring, thanks.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 03-27-2011, 09:27 PM
Magiver Magiver is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by flatlined View Post
So, because I know this is going to happen again and probably too soon, I thought I'd ask the smartest people in the world...what do you do to help the family out in the first few days?
Food and anything you know they are lacking at the moment.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 03-27-2011, 09:41 PM
Larry Mudd Larry Mudd is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Never thought past food - soups, stews, casseroles, and loafs - things that can be portioned out and keep for a while. Will keep the paper products in reserve for the next time; excellent suggestion.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 03-27-2011, 09:46 PM
missred missred is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
It depends upon how well I know the family / deceased and what the needs are.

One friend who lost her mother needed someone to sit with her grandfather (he was a dementia patient) during the services. I had a nice visit with an 85 year old gentleman who constantly either asked who I was or called me by another name. He did have a couple of amusing stories set in his youth though.

Usually, it's a cake or casserole, paper goods or picking up relatives from the airport though.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 03-27-2011, 09:49 PM
Hello Again Hello Again is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Depending on your relationship with them, you can offer to make phone calls. Not to family, but to non-family who needs to be informed. If there are kids, their school, teams, activity coaches, etc all need to be notified if any classes/practices will be missed. If anyone in the family had a dentist/doctor's appointment that now needs to be rescheduled, etc. This is obviously only appropriate if you are fairly close with them and would already be privy to these details of their lives. It's so wearying to keep repeating the same bad news over and over.

Another option, if you're friendly but not close, is to offer to pick people up from the airport.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 03-27-2011, 10:27 PM
flatlined flatlined is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by 6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast View Post
I take (or buy - depending on which I can leave) a suitably big pot, and all the makings for chicken soup. I stay and make it in the house.
That is such a wonderful idea. Not only is chicken soup a comfort food, the cooking smells are comforting as well. Thank you so much. Crock pots are cheap. I'll pick a couple up on sale to have when needed. I usually make a pot roast (more comfort food) at home and bring it over. I think that having it cook there would be much better. Thanks again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by elbows View Post
If they have a dog, drop by to walk it. If they have kids, offer to take them to the park for a few hours.
Another good idea. Kids don't really understand what's happening and could probably use a break from crying adults.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baker View Post
More than once I've done what that one woman in the OP did. Paper products to eat of of, plastic utensils, paper towels, TP, and so on. Lot's of folks bring food, and that's needed, but doing dishes is a drag when you are happy, and worse when you are not.
I honestly never thought about that before today. The family suddenly has a bunch of people in their home, the last thing they need to worry about is washing dishes or going to the store for toilet paper.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KinkiNipponTourist View Post
Damn, I'm sorry to hear about your friends, flatlined.

Erm, up in New England we usually bring a case of beer, but I like the other posts on this thread better. 6Impossible's post is great.
Thank you. I'm sad and mad. One impatient idiot, a life lost, a man possibly crippled and a 22 year old guy who's life is never going to be the same. Things happen so fast.

Some of the guys bring liquid refreshments, but I kinda figure that if the family wants such a thing, they have probably already dealt with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KinkiNipponTourist View Post
As I typed that out, I caught myself thinking "f-f-flatlined???"

C-can I ask how you came to choose your name here? Please be reassuring, thanks.
I have now laughed for the first time today. My very own zombie thread Thank you so much for that! Actually...the name was because I had routine surgery that stopped being routine and I flatlined for 7 minutes. I'm very non-creative when it comes to user names.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Magiver View Post
Food and anything you know they are lacking at the moment.
That's why I bring food and money. I usually don't know the family members, so don't know what they are lacking.

I always feel so helpless. I want to fix things, but there is no way to fix a death. I'm uncomfortable talking about the lost one unless the family wants to talk about them and then I never know if I should share funny stories (many people don't get biker humor, so telling about the time that Ticktok was taking a dump in McDonalds when we got ran out of town might not make them smile) or if I should just talk about their good qualities. Which is often biker humor as well. My favorite story about her is the time I found baby birds on the ground and she accosted people in the parking lot until someone drove home and returned with a ladder. Saving baby birds is good. Telling the family that she was offering to show her teats for said ladder might not be so good. I do know that telling the family that she did flash the ladder bringer would be a nono, even though that did inspire the guy to climb the ladder himself.

Last edited by flatlined; 03-27-2011 at 10:28 PM.. Reason: to try to fix quotes
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 03-27-2011, 10:43 PM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
Creature of the Night
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Posts: 20,803
I think that from now on, if I'm stumped, I'll bring the paper products, and I'll add a big bunch of trash bags, too. Usually I've brought food. In one case, the family had come from wherever they had White Castle hamburgers, and a White Castle franchise had just opened. So I bought a bunch of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and fries, and I swung by a store and bought an assortment of sodas plus some ice. This was a big hit. I think that chicken soup would be a big hit, too.

I will note that thrift shops usually have very cheap but still quite usable crock pots and regular cooking pots.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 03-27-2011, 10:50 PM
flatlined flatlined is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Mudd View Post
Never thought past food - soups, stews, casseroles, and loafs - things that can be portioned out and keep for a while. Will keep the paper products in reserve for the next time; excellent suggestion.
The paper products was what made me start this thread. In retrospect, its such a good, common sense idea. Taking kids to the park is also something I never thought of. Again...what a good idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by missred View Post
It depends upon how well I know the family / deceased and what the needs are.

One friend who lost her mother needed someone to sit with her grandfather (he was a dementia patient) during the services. I had a nice visit with an 85 year old gentleman who constantly either asked who I was or called me by another name. He did have a couple of amusing stories set in his youth though.
That was so generous and thoughtful and kind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
Depending on your relationship with them, you can offer to make phone calls...It's so wearying to keep repeating the same bad news over and over.

Another option, if you're friendly but not close, is to offer to pick people up from the airport.
Another good idea and one that I never thought of. Asking to make the calls and having family think about who to notify could be a good distaction for them.

As a club, we do pick up people from the airport and take them around. His daughters flew in early this morning and were met with hugs and tears. This might sound odd...but we do up a duty rooster, so that there is always a few people at the hospital and with the families. Nobody is left alone unless they ask to have private time.

We are getting too good at this. I'm thinking that it's pretty bad that I started this thread. I shouldn't be getting so used to people dieing that I'm making plans for the next death.

Wanders off to cry some more.

Thank you everyone.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 03-27-2011, 10:52 PM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
Creature of the Night
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Posts: 20,803
Quote:
We are getting too good at this. I'm thinking that it's pretty bad that I started this thread. I shouldn't be getting so used to people dieing that I'm making plans for the next death.
It's good that your group can manage to do the right things in a bad situation. It's terrible that your death rate is so high that you've become this practiced at it.

I'm sorry for your loss.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 03-27-2011, 11:15 PM
KinkiNipponTourist KinkiNipponTourist is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Hey! I see your leetle green lamp is on, so you haven't fl--no, won't even go there--you haven't left yet.

It's perfectly fine to get a mod to close a thread for you; it'll sink to the bottom in no time.

One laaaast little thing though. You lost a friend and very nearly lost another. Don't you need some support too? I effing loved that story about her. I can picture this amazing biker chick, accosting folk to just go get a ladder, and when that wasn't working, offing a flash of the fun bags AND IT WORKING.

You want to come tell us some more stories? How's that dumb cat of yours? I'll bring the roast.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 03-27-2011, 11:58 PM
flatlined flatlined is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Bodoni View Post
It's good that your group can manage to do the right things in a bad situation. It's terrible that your death rate is so high that you've become this practiced at it.

I'm sorry for your loss.
Thank you, Lynn. It really bites. My vest has too many IMO patches. Usually, my brothers die from age or combat related things. It always hurts. A lot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KinkiNipponTourist View Post
Hey! I see your leetle green lamp is on, so you haven't fl--no, won't even go there--you haven't left yet.

It's perfectly fine to get a mod to close a thread for you; it'll sink to the bottom in no time.

One laaaast little thing though. You lost a friend and very nearly lost another. Don't you need some support too? I effing loved that story about her. I can picture this amazing biker chick, accosting folk to just go get a ladder, and when that wasn't working, offing a flash of the fun bags AND IT WORKING.

You want to come tell us some more stories? How's that dumb cat of yours? I'll bring the roast.
I don't think I want this thread closed, I just needed to cry for a while. Idiot cat is offended like only a cat can be. I used his tail to wipe my face. WET HUMAN COOTIES!!!

I'm learning things and others are as well. Who would have thought about bring toilet paper to a grieving family? Not me! Next time, I'll think more about the younglings. They tend to get forgotten. Ticktok's grandkids might need to go to a movie after school tomorrow. I have no idea what kids movies are popular, do you have suggestions for under 7 years old? I do know a place with pinball games, maybe that would be a good idea too.

Ticktoc is a small female who got her roadname because she was the one who kept us on time. Picture a bunch of big burly bikers standing around talking and laughing. Smoking and drinking sodas or water. Looking like they are planning to be there all day. Suddenly a small (under 5 foot and maybe 90 lbs soaking wet) girl starts pointing at her wrist and snapping fingers. The result...everyone running to bikes and mounting up. She will be sorely missed.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 03-28-2011, 01:20 AM
flatlined flatlined is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Update. Tinker's breathing tube was removed and he's now breathing on his own. His daughters are at the hospital and won't leave. I wouldn't either. One of the club members thought to bring blankets and pillows. We shouldn't be this good at this sort of thing

I'll probably not be here for a few days, my hospital shift starts in 5 hours, but please do continue to post suggestions about supporting the families. Sadly...this is knowledge I will use.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 03-28-2011, 01:32 AM
flatlined flatlined is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
http://www.azcentral.com/community/p...lls-woman.html

Here is the latest newspaper article. It ticks me off that helmets were mentioned. Again. They got slammed by someone going at least 45 mph. Helmets don't save lives at that speed, but the media has to blame the biker for not wearing a helmet. Its the bikers fault...it doesn't matter that they got hit by 2 tons of fast moving metal operated by someone who wasn't paying attention. Its their fault. If they had been wearing helmets, they could have just walked away. says many bad words.

I might start my first pit thread about that. But not tonight. I'm going off to cry some more. Anger is starting to override the grief.

Edited to say that I thought that Ticktok was in her mid 40's. She did take care of herself. I aspire to look that good at that age.

Last edited by flatlined; 03-28-2011 at 01:34 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 03-28-2011, 03:22 AM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
Creature of the Night
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Posts: 20,803
Quote:
Ticktok's grandkids might need to go to a movie after school tomorrow. I have no idea what kids movies are popular, do you have suggestions for under 7 years old?
If the weather's good, why not take them to the park? Get them outside and just running around. Don't plan anything, just let them be kids and run off some energy. Let them yell. If they've been having to be quiet and respectful, this might let them wear themselves out.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 03-28-2011, 03:36 AM
iamnotbatman iamnotbatman is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Just as a counterpoint to what others have said about "camping out" with chicken soup at someone's home, you should keep in mind that some people need space. It can be pretty overwhelming having dozens of people at your doorstep and invading your space while you are trying to make sense of what has happened. I speak from experience. No one is the same -- just be aware, for example, that having to respond to "how are you feeling?" over and over again by separate people can be emotionally draining rather than supportive, despite the best of intentions. I'm not saying that everyone is like that -- but be aware that some are.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 03-28-2011, 04:07 AM
6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast 6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2010
A valid point, iamnotbatman. To not have the space you needed is an awful thing; especially, when as you say, you know how well intentioned everyone is being. And certainly you're not in the state of mind to ask for what you want most badly. So being aware of people's differing needs like that is very useful advice. "How are you feeling?" is such an unfortunate question to ask. I don't ever ask it - but people do because, as I'm sure you know, they just don't know what else to say.

flatlined, I too am so sorry for the loss of your friend Ticktoc; and I if all that can be done for Tinker is warm thoughts and healing meditations, he's got 'em from downunder. I feel like a jerk for not mentioning those things in my original post - but I'm glad I could help. It's nice that something so simple can mean so much. (And thanks for the shout out, Kinki!)

As Lyn Bodini said, I think you should be proud of how good your club has become at deaing with terrible times like this. Loss and grief are the hardest things to handle. Whatever we offer has us feel so inadequate and incompetent; but really, that we are there is what people remember. They don't remember what you did, or what you said - all they remember is how you made them feel.

That you and your club members can be the glue for those who are shattered, while dealing with your own anger and sadness, is the stuff of which true families are made.

Grief is a process. Ride with it. Somehow, sometime, it settles with a sigh of acceptance, somewhere in your soul.

You're doin' good, flatlined. However you're doin' it, is the way it should be done.

Ticktoc - what a powerhouse! Energy like that don't just disappear.
__________________
Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, & Derision
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 03-28-2011, 04:24 AM
Nava Nava is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
A classmate of mine died in similar circumstances when we were 15 (he was driving his little sister home to get her gym clothes, which she'd forgotten; they were run over by a truck which "straightened" a soft S-curve). His little sister was in a coma for a while, has been depressed since.

I didn't visit his family, but I was one of the three girls and two boys who, shall we say, defended his gf from the "caring assault" of their so-called friends who kept telling her "oh, don't cry". We split who'd handle collecting class notes, who let her family know she'd gone home and who went home with her; we didn't ask for our teachers' permission, simply left and the boys (who were charged with taking notes) informed them. We made sure she had drink and nibbles available, cooked lunch, stayed with her, gave her shoulders to cry on and patted her back, hugged when she hugged, stayed away but handy when she balled up, passed the tissues and never, ever said "oh, don't cry".





Both for the deaths of my father and grandfather, having someone who was clearly In Charge of Paperwork was helpful. In our case, those were relatives, but not every family has several lawyers in it (and ones with financial expertise, too). There may be people in your group who can assist with that. Trying to sort insurance is hard enough when you're calm, doing it just after losing someone you love and with another someone in the hospital is a lousy time to be doing it.





When Mom was bedridden (and both her and Dad depressed, and me a Jr/Sr in HS, and the boys thereabouts of 4th grade), I was able to keep the house clean and the family fed and everybody showered and homework done - but I didn't know how to cook any vegetables other than green beans. Two friends of Mom's who have vegetable gardens and often give her excess crop (you know how it is: you put in 3 different varieties of tomatoes which are supposed to ripen at different times, the fuckers still manage to go from green to red on the same week) would bring those same veggies cooked instead of raw. A few times that they were bringing 10 portions instead of 5, they brought them in two tupperwares so I could freeze one or both.
__________________
Life ain't peaches and cream, but sometimes it's laughing your ass off when you have no ass. - WhyNot
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 03-28-2011, 04:46 AM
Queen Tonya Queen Tonya is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
I'm so sorry for your loss.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 03-28-2011, 07:54 AM
elbows elbows is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: London, Ontario
Posts: 8,909
Quote:
some people need space.
Yeah I've been thinking something similar throughout this thread.

Please keep in mind that at life's most difficult times people have a need to control what they can sometimes. Loss is uncontrollable, so instead, they turn to what they can control. They clean house, or make soup, or obsess over some other small thing. And their friends and family say, "Leave that, let me do it", or, "don't worry about that now!" But for some people, that busy work is keeping them moving forward in some ways. Everybody grieves differently.

The same for kids, some people need them underfoot, they find it affirming of life and need to keep them close. Myself, I would not use the paper products, because fussing with the food, doing the dishes, serving people, etc., would/has been my 'busy work' at such times.

I guess, I'm saying everybody is different. Having a heap of good ideas to choose from is better then a protocol that you're following for each.

(Also, can anyone translate this, "offing a flash of the fun bags AND IT WORKING", for me?)
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 03-28-2011, 08:24 AM
Count Blucher Count Blucher is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Beyond being there & listening, a covered dish to start. Goffer services. (Aunt Sue is flying in & you're in no shape to drive. What times her flight, what terminal, I'll pick her up for you.) Shopping help...and sometimes prodding is good. If I can know what they go through, making a list & getting a few grocery bags of things can be a help.

And, if after time has passed, helping the survivor separate the things of the deceased into mementos & keepsakes, things that have value & ought to be sold, things that could be donated (clothes?), and things that just plain need to be thrown out (toothbrushes, old prescriptions, etc)
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 03-28-2011, 09:02 AM
JuliaSqueezer JuliaSqueezer is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
I think I posted this once before, but in the past few years I have found that giving the family a roll of stamps (e.g., 100 stamps in whatever is the current first class postage rate) always seems appreciated. There are so many things needing to be mailed following a death, and this gives them one less thing to add to their list of chores.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 03-28-2011, 09:12 AM
MsWhatsit MsWhatsit is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
We usually bring food, in the form of frozen meals that only need to be heated up, i.e. frozen meatloaf, frozen lasagna, etc., with the instructions on a post-it note on top. (Simple instructions, i.e. "Bake at 375 for an hour.")

When Whatsit Jr. was in the hospital as a baby, friends of ours got together and just brought us dinner every night for a week. Some nights I'm pretty sure they'd just made extras of whatever they had for dinner themselves, and then put it in Tupperware and dropped it off at our door. They didn't stay to chat or socialize; they just rang the bell, left the food, and went on their way. I appreciated this more than anyone will ever know. It was the only thing that kept me from living on the all-Twinkie diet for a couple of weeks.

Something else you might offer to do is to bring in their mail and sort out the junk. They may not want you to do this if they are private people, but one of the things that went by the wayside when I was in a similar situation was the mail. I forgot to bring it in from the mailbox for so long that the mailman actually started rubber-banding it together and leaving it on the step because the mailbox got full. It's one of those things that you just don't think about and then there's a huge pile of it to deal with.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 03-28-2011, 08:21 PM
flatlined flatlined is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Bodoni View Post
If the weather's good, why not take them to the park? Get them outside and just running around. Don't plan anything, just let them be kids and run off some energy. Let them yell. If they've been having to be quiet and respectful, this might let them wear themselves out.
I read this before I left home this morning. I'm not too good with kids, I don't understand them. A couple of the young male club members came with us to the park and roughhoused with Ticktoc's grandkids. We tossed frisbies and fed them hotdogs. I think this was the best suggestion so far for this family. Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iamnotbatman View Post
Just as a counterpoint to what others have said about "camping out" with chicken soup at someone's home, you should keep in mind that some people need space.
Thank you. We do try to give people space if we think they need it, or if they ask. While I was at the hospital, Tinker's daughters didn't seem to want to talk or interact with us. We were ok with that. We are strangers to them, and strangers who could be considered scarey for non-bikers. We told them to ask if there was anything they needed and then sat apart from them and talked about Tinker. After a while, they came to listen to our stories and seemed to understand that we do love their father. When the oldest one said she would like a shower, I was happy to drive her (in a car) to her motel room. I learned that one of the guys had given both of them pre-paid cell phones so they wouldn't get roaming charges. Another thing I will remember for next time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast View Post
"How are you feeling?" is such an unfortunate question to ask. I don't ever ask it - but people do because, as I'm sure you know, they just don't know what else to say. [/QUOTE}

Sadly, we have been doing this long enough to know that is a stupid question. They hear variations of "I'm so sorry. What can I do?"

Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts. Tinker is showing improvement today. He had back surgery and is able to respond somewhat to commands and can move his toes.

As Lyn Bodini said, I think you should be proud of how good your club has become at deaing with terrible times like this. Loss and grief are the hardest things to handle. Whatever we offer has us feel so inadequate and incompetent; but really, that we are there is what people remember. They don't remember what you did, or what you said - all they remember is how you made them feel.

That you and your club members can be the glue for those who are shattered, while dealing with your own anger and sadness, is the stuff of which true families are made.

Grief is a process. Ride with it. Somehow, sometime, it settles with a sigh of acceptance, somewhere in your soul.

You're doin' good, flatlined. However you're doin' it, is the way it should be done.

Ticktoc - what a powerhouse! Energy like that don't just disappear.
This made me cry grateful tears. I'm not usually an emotional mess. We try hard to not cry in front of the families. They are already a mess and shouldn't feel as though they need to comfort us. I will remember your support and understand for a very long time. Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nava View Post
A classmate of mine died in similar circumstances when we were 15 (he was driving his little sister home to get her gym clothes, which she'd forgotten; they were run over by a truck which "straightened" a soft S-curve). His little sister was in a coma for a while, has been depressed since...
Holy cow. I am SO sorry. You were wise and sensitive and caring. Not a lot of school kids would have thought to do what you did.

Quote:
Both for the deaths of my father and grandfather, having someone who was clearly In Charge of Paperwork was helpful.
Oddly enough, while we have a club Preacher, a bailsbond man, medical personal and cops, we don't have any legal people. This might be something we will need to look for in prospects. Lips (our Preacher "from your lips to God's ears") is helping out with funeral arrangements and probably knows how to help with insurance. I'll ask him when I can. This is probably pretty sensitive to a lot of people and we are basically strangers to the families.

Your highschool years sound like a nightmare and you sound like a wonderful person. A lot of people that age would have just given up. I'm really sorry you had to go through that. Your neighbors sound wonderful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Queen Tonya View Post
I'm so sorry for your loss.
Thank you. I'll never forget Ticktok. Not only did she save baby birds and keep us on time, she was a kind and caring and giving person who once stopped us on our ride so that someone could take a stranger's wheel an hour in the other direction and get a new tire mounted. Stranger was broke and broken down, so she passed the hat to get money for the new tire, then gave the extra money to the broke stranger.

Quote:
Originally Posted by elbows View Post
I guess, I'm saying everybody is different. Having a heap of good ideas to choose from is better then a protocol that you're following for each.

(Also, can anyone translate this, "offing a flash of the fun bags AND IT WORKING", for me?)
That's why I started this thread. I want a heap of good ideas for next time and knew I'd get good ones from the smartest people in the world. We try to be as considerate as we can be. All we really want to do is help, but as you so wisely pointed out, everybody is different and some people blame the bikes/club/floozies for the death. In that case, we will accept the abuse, say how sorry we are and leave our offerings on the doorstep. (That only happened once, but it was so sad. We knew it was just grief and rage speaking, nothing personal)

I'm not sure where you are from, so hopes I don't sound condesending, but "flashing" means showing flesh quickly. Opening and closing vest or pulling tshirt up and down. "fun bags" = boobies. "IT WORKING" means that most hetro guys will do almost anything to get a fast look at boobies. Again, we are bikers. We live in our own world. Its perfectly acceptable during a run for a stranger to come up to me, in front of my sweet baboo and 20 other people and ask me to show my teats. If I do, everyone pays compliments. If I refuse, nobody is upset or offended.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Count Blucher View Post
And, if after time has passed, helping the survivor separate the things of the deceased into mementos & keepsakes, things that have value & ought to be sold, things that could be donated (clothes?), and things that just plain need to be thrown out (toothbrushes, old prescriptions, etc)
This is really the hardest part. I've done it in the past. It seems like such an invasion. Its also necessary. We try to get into the home before the family so we can remove porn/bongs/dildos, etc. Yes, our lost ones are adults who are allowed to have such things, but having Mom open a nightstand to see her daughter's sextoys really isn't a good thing.

I thank you for bringing it up. And for being so tactful about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JuliaSqueezer View Post
I think I posted this once before, but in the past few years I have found that giving the family a roll of stamps (e.g., 100 stamps in whatever is the current first class postage rate).
Another good idea. I wouldn't have thought about this either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MsWhatsit View Post
When Whatsit Jr. was in the hospital as a baby, friends of ours got together and just brought us dinner every night for a week.

Something else you might offer to do is to bring in their mail and sort out the junk. .
You have wonderful friends. That was so thoughtful of them.

I didn't think about the mail before reading this. I was at the hospital today, so suggested it to the people who were helping Ticktoc's family. They are going to bring it in, but not sort. One of us will go to Tinker's place and grab the mail daily and bring it to his daughters. They can sort it, or we can.

Tomorrow, we (club) are going to go to Tinker's place and clean out his fridge. We will also put any private stuff in a box and store it for him. If/when he goes home, we will give the box back with no comment. Tinker has been on a couple of clean up raids, so while he's in no condition to think about it now, I do believe that if/when he does, it will comfort him to know that we are looking out for him.

Again, thank you everyone for your kind words and great suggestions. This will never get less painful, but having plans helps a lot.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 03-28-2011, 08:53 PM
Baker Baker is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Tottering-on-the-Brink
Posts: 14,641
Was the person who blew through the light caught?
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 03-28-2011, 09:58 PM
TexasDriver TexasDriver is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Once it backfired for me. Mom went to her mom's house. Before Mom got there, her mother died (not unexpectedly) and her father called our house. Pop left me at home alone to go be with Mom and her father, but he didn't say anything to me. The backfiring part: Before I even knew that my grandmother had died, i.e., less than two hours after the call, there was a church lady at the door with a casserole in hand. That is how I found out my grandmother died. Not the best way. I was 12. I have always wondered if that church lady kept some casseroles in the deep freeze just for those occasions.

A cousin of mine who had just lost her mother said that if one more person brought a bucket of fried chicken she was going to scream. Please vary the menu.

I like the idea of the stamps. I would suggest a couple of boxes of "Thank you" cards. I mean, you are supposed to send thank you notes to people who leave food, flowers, and such, right?

An aunt of mine did a lot of ferrying people to and from the airport for a wedding. I will keep that service in mind for funerals, too.

I am sorry for your loss. Remember the good times. And the love, always the love. Best wishes for Tinker too.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 03-28-2011, 10:19 PM
flatlined flatlined is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
He was, Baker. Sadly, I'm so jaded that I'm guessing its because hitting 850 lbs of Milwalkee iron did enough damage to his Nissan that he couldn't drive away. The good thing is that it was a new car...so he probably has some insurance. At 22 years old, he probably doesn't have enough insurance to cover the emergancy room costs. If he's human, his life has been changed in a very bad way. If Ticktoc's family or Tinker sues him, they will get a judgement...but you can't get money from someone who doesn't have any.

Mostly, all I know about him is that he hasn't contacted anyone with expressions of remorse. I did hear that the EMT's were mad at him because he thought his bloody face needed instant medical help (airbag) no matter that Tinker was going to die on the street while he got his nose attended to, but that is third hand gossip. I wasn't there. Our bailbondman has read the police report and says that the responders were very disgusted with his actions, but I haven't read that so I can't say.

Again...this is too common for us, so we keep money in our treasury for funeral and family expensives. I know that its crass to be thinking about money at this time, but the families often don't have much and suddenly buying plane tickets and hotel rooms and a casket adds up really fast.

Today, I learned that Ticktoc was an organ donator. I'm not surprised at that. What does tick me off is knowing that her family is expected to pay the cost of harvesting her parts. Again, I don't know the whole story, but I was told that everything that happened to her dead body after the EMT's came is now being billed to her.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 03-28-2011, 11:04 PM
flatlined flatlined is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
TexasDriver I'm now on an old laptop at Starbucks. For some reason I can't quote you and I really don't feel like figureing it out right now.

That was HORRIBLE. You were old enough to have been told what was happening. I'm so sorry that you had to go through that. Offers up a big sloppy biker hug.

I'm sure that church lady was trying to be kind. If the food was warm, she probably cooked it as soon as she got the news. If it was frozen, its very possible that she gave you a meal that she had been planning to eat herself. She wasn't trying to be the first one with the bad news for a kid, she was trying to be kind.

I didn't think about Thank You cards either. Another good suggestion. I do know that a couple of the ladies take names and phone numbers. I don't know what happens after that. We work as a family and trust that everyone is doing their part and doing it well.

I've gotten past the grief and am now angry. Well...I'm sad and very mad. This happened because someone got a new car and was speeding and didn't care how he impacted other people. I hope his financial life is ruined forever. I hope that he will have nightmares about blood on his windshield forever. I'm very happy that my brothers and sisters are more rational than me because at this time, I want to go visit him with a baseball bat and take his knees and balls out. I need my idiot cat to walk over my keyboard and let me cry in his fur, but idiot cat is 60 miles away.

Takes hands away from the keyboard.
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 03-29-2011, 01:44 AM
Nava Nava is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by flatlined View Post
Holy cow. I am SO sorry. You were wise and sensitive and caring. Not a lot of school kids would have thought to do what you did.
Nah, more like "royally pissed off at our classmate's so-called friends". The only thing which kept them all from being defenestrated was that we'd been told there weren't any novels in prison's libraries.

A coworker put it well one time she was completely angry and our boss and another coworker were telling her "oh, take it easy honey, don't get angry!" "First I can not 'not get angry', I already AM angry! And second, you're not worried about me, it makes you uncomfortable that I happen to be angry and you can both piss off!" The rest of us applauded.

Quote:
Your highschool years sound like a nightmare
Let me put it this way: when I hear people talking about "going back to their teens", my "hell NO" rattles the windows. But hey, it didn't kill me.

Last edited by Nava; 03-29-2011 at 01:47 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 03-29-2011, 01:54 AM
Nava Nava is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by flatlined View Post
Today, I learned that Ticktoc was an organ donator. I'm not surprised at that. What does tick me off is knowing that her family is expected to pay the cost of harvesting her parts.
That is fucked up in so many ways

I was at the doctor yesterday; since I'm new in the area, the videos they play in the waiting room are new to me, so I actually got some entertainment out of watching them. There were two on donations. One of them featured the father of a donor, saying "if you give in to this black-hole moment and you have a heart, you will eventually regret it; if you raise over the pain and anger, it will not make the pain go away, nothing can, but it will make the sunrise a bit sweeter."

Last edited by Nava; 03-29-2011 at 01:54 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 03-29-2011, 09:26 AM
Schoaff Schoaff is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by flatlined View Post
Today, I learned that Ticktoc was an organ donator. I'm not surprised at that. What does tick me off is knowing that her family is expected to pay the cost of harvesting her parts.
If this happened it was an error on the part of the hospital and should be corrected. In the US the recipient pays the cost of harvesting the organs. Sadly it does seem to be a very common misconception which dissuades people from being donors.

More information can be found at www.organdonor.gov.
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 03-29-2011, 12:07 PM
Skald the Rhymer Skald the Rhymer is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 24,188
Cooked meals that can be frozen and reheated with minimal difficulty and loss of flavor. That is why Athena gave us casseroles.

And you don't use any dish you care about getting back, either. Either a disposable aluminum dish or a glass/ceramic number you can say goodbye too. Asking for the dish back is simply not done in civilized circles.
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 03-29-2011, 12:21 PM
missred missred is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
flatlined, I didn't say this in my earlier post, but you and your friends have my sympathy. My thoughts are with you all and Tinker right now.

Unfortunately, you are right about getting too used to hospitals and funeral homes. As someone who occasionally still rides and still has a whole mess of friends and family who do, it happens far too often.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 03-29-2011, 12:50 PM
mrklutz mrklutz is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
My condolences, flatlined. There are no sufficient words.

When my dad died, one of the offers I appreciated most was a friend who told me I could come over anytime if I wanted to get away from everyone -- I had open license to tell everyone to piss off and leave me alone if I was there.

Another thing that can be very appreciated is to take care of mundane chores like lawn mowing, dishes, and the like. If possible, do it when the family is gone taking care of other stuff.
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 03-30-2011, 03:25 AM
Nava Nava is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrklutz View Post
Another thing that can be very appreciated is to take care of mundane chores like lawn mowing, dishes, and the like. If possible, do it when the family is gone taking care of other stuff.
That's one of the things which, as other posters mentioned, really really needs knowing the family so you can tell whether it will be well-received or viewed as an intrusion/taking away a mindless job the family would rather do themselves. Visitors offering to help me may find themselves dusting - but getting home and finding my key-holding relatives there saying "honey, we did your dusting" would lead to "give me your keys to this house, now."
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 03-30-2011, 11:35 AM
RTFirefly RTFirefly is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Maryland
Posts: 27,028
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsWhatsit View Post
We usually bring food, in the form of frozen meals that only need to be heated up, i.e. frozen meatloaf, frozen lasagna, etc., with the instructions on a post-it note on top. (Simple instructions, i.e. "Bake at 375 for an hour.")

When Whatsit Jr. was in the hospital as a baby, friends of ours got together and just brought us dinner every night for a week. Some nights I'm pretty sure they'd just made extras of whatever they had for dinner themselves, and then put it in Tupperware and dropped it off at our door. They didn't stay to chat or socialize; they just rang the bell, left the food, and went on their way. I appreciated this more than anyone will ever know. It was the only thing that kept me from living on the all-Twinkie diet for a couple of weeks.
I'll second this. When my wife and I got off the plane from Russia with the Firebug, my sister was there to greet us with a large pan of frozen lasagna. Having real food on hand that we only needed to reheat made our lives much easier as we adapted to suddenly being parents of a toddler.
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 03-30-2011, 09:31 PM
Cub Mistress Cub Mistress is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Middle Tennessee
Posts: 2,543
flatlined, I am so sorry for your loss. In the past I have shown up at the family home with a cleaning kit to clean the bathrooms. It's something that has to be done before family arrives to stay for the funeral, but no one really wants to do. I've also offerered to baby sit for any children who are too young to actually attend the funeral. Bringing breakfast is also good.
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 03-31-2011, 01:56 AM
flatlined flatlined is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nava View Post
Nah, more like "royally pissed off at our classmate's so-called friends". The only thing which kept them all from being defenestrated was that we'd been told there weren't any novels in prison's libraries.

A coworker put it well one time she was completely angry and our boss and another coworker were telling her "oh, take it easy honey, don't get angry!" "First I can not 'not get angry', I already AM angry! And second, you're not worried about me, it makes you uncomfortable that I happen to be angry and you can both piss off!" The rest of us applauded.



Let me put it this way: when I hear people talking about "going back to their teens", my "hell NO" rattles the windows. But hey, it didn't kill me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nava View Post
That is fucked up in so many ways

I was at the doctor yesterday; since I'm new in the area, the videos they play in the waiting room are new to me, so I actually got some entertainment out of watching them. There were two on donations. One of them featured the father of a donor, saying "if you give in to this black-hole moment and you have a heart, you will eventually regret it; if you raise over the pain and anger, it will not make the pain go away, nothing can, but it will make the sunrise a bit sweeter."
I wanted to snip things for post length...but mostly all I can say is You rock!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schoaff View Post
If this happened it was an error on the part of the hospital and should be corrected. More information can be found at www.organdonor.gov.
At this time, there is a lot of misunderstandings happening. Most of what I know is that her family is totally stressing about the medical costs from transporting a dead person to the hospital. From what I have heard today (and I have not seen the bills), Ticktoc's family were told that they would have to pay for the ambulance and life support until she was harvested. I don't know. I do know that I'm an organ doner and most of the rest of us are. I also know that we will work that out when we aren't so focuesd on the current problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skald the Rhymer View Post
Cooked meals that can be frozen and reheated with minimal difficulty and loss of flavor. That is why Athena gave us casseroles.

And you don't use any dish you care about getting back, either. Either a disposable aluminum dish or a glass/ceramic number you can say goodbye too. Asking for the dish back is simply not done in civilized circles.
You are totally right about not asking for dishes back. I'd never consider doing such a thing. If I am washing things up for them, I just put dishes in the drainer. Lynn Bodoni's suggestion about buying crockpots at thrift stores was spot on. The families probably already have one, so if they ask, I can tell them to give it to kids or such. Nobody has ever asked to return stuff to me, but I'm thinking its mostly because they don't remember who brought what.

Quote:
Originally Posted by missred View Post
flatlined, I didn't say this in my earlier post, but you and your friends have my sympathy. My thoughts are with you all and Tinker right now.

Unfortunately, you are right about getting too used to hospitals and funeral homes. As someone who occasionally still rides and still has a whole mess of friends and family who do, it happens far too often.
Thank you. It bites. A lot. I promise to give you lots of hugs and tissues next time you have to go through this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrklutz View Post
My condolences, flatlined. There are no sufficient words.

When my dad died, one of the offers I appreciated most was a friend who told me I could come over anytime if I wanted to get away from everyone -- I had open license to tell everyone to piss off and leave me alone if I was there.
I used your advice. I told Tinker's daughters that we could leave and drive around without talking whenever they wanted to. We ended up stretching out in the hospital chapel and sleeping. They thought that they were required to play hostess to people they didn't know at the hospital. Nobody really knows what to do in these situations when its their first time. Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nava View Post
Visitors offering to help me may find themselves dusting - but getting home and finding my key-holding relatives there saying "honey, we did your dusting" would lead to "give me your keys to this house, now."
I'd dust for you if asked. If you were in the hospital and your family was going to be in your home, I'd try to be in there first to remove things that you didn't want your family members to see. I've got Tinkers stuff in a box in my closet. He can have it when he's out of the hospital. I'm not sure what to do with Ticktoc's things. I guess I'll give it to Tinker when he's able to deal with it, but what if he doesn't want to see it. It seems disrespectful to just toss it in the trash, but I'm not the sort to keep sex toys for sentimental reasons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RTFirefly View Post
I'll second this. When my wife and I got off the plane from Russia with the Firebug, my sister was there to greet us with a large pan of frozen lasagna. Having real food on hand that we only needed to reheat made our lives much easier as we adapted to suddenly being parents of a toddler.
That has to be a major adjustment. You didn't get to have the baby keeping you up all the time but not wandering around the house and getting into stuff all at once. Thank you for bringing that up. I doubt that I'd have ever thought about adopting parents need help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cub Mistress View Post
flatlined, I am so sorry for your loss. In the past I have shown up at the family home with a cleaning kit to clean the bathrooms. It's something that has to be done before family arrives to stay for the funeral, but no one really wants to do. I've also offerered to baby sit for any children who are too young to actually attend the funeral. Bringing breakfast is also good.
A very good suggestion. Its like my friend bringing toilet paper. Something that I'd never have thought about until now. I'm learning a lot of ways to help and I do appreciate it.

For everyone...thank you so much for all of your good suggestions and kind thoughts.

I don't want to have to do this again...but it will happen

The good news is that the doctors say that Tinker will live unless there are unforseen complications. He's getting moved out of ICU tomorrow. If nothing goes bad. They think he will keep his leg. They think its possible that he will someday walk again. Due to the damage to his back, he will never ride or have a normal life.

The kid who did this to them is still refusing to give up insurance info or take any responsibility. His parents sent a lawyer to the hospital to tell us that Ticktoc died because she wasn't a helmet, so they aren't responsible.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:21 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.