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After a Loved One's Passing, Grief Can Outlast the Support

DEAR ABBY: My neighbor was very ill with diabetes and an amputee with other health problems. Her husband worked long hours to pay for her health care and keep food on the table. They also had custody of a 3-year-old granddaughter.

I'm sorry to say this idea didn't occur to me until after the lady died suddenly, and her husband was left a widower with a small child to raise. Once the funeral is over and the church and neighbors move on, those left behind are often without support. They have funeral bills to pay, medical bills and their grief.

My local grocer happens to deliver, so I went and bought two cases of canned vegetables, rice, beans, flour, corn meal, sugar, potatoes and pasta every other month and had them delivered anonymously. That way my neighbor wouldn't feel it was charity. He has since figured out it was me, so I take food to them now because he's still having a hard time after his wife's death. But the little girl is thriving and I don't have to worry she will be hungry.

Please ask your readers to think beyond the usual mourning period, and look further at a family's situation after a loved one dies. A little help can go a long way. -- HAPPY TO LEND A HAND IN TENNESSEE

DEAR HAPPY TO LEND A HAND: I'm pleased to print your letter. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a caring and generous neighbor like you. When a death happens, the most important thing is to maintain contact with a grieving family and observe the Golden Rule as you have been doing. The time to be a friend is when someone needs one.

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