Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Neighbor Should Reach Out After Death

DEAR HARRIETTE: My neighbor passed away recently. I used to see him every morning when he took his walk. We would speak, but I never went to their house. Now that he is gone, I feel like I should knock on my neighbor’s door and offer my support. I don’t even know his widow’s name. I realize how distant people can be, even when they live in the same building. Do you think I should visit her? I can’t imagine what my life would be like if my husband died. -- Neighbor in Mourning, Chicago

DEAR NEIGHBOR IN MOURNING: Trust your instincts. When people are in crisis, neighbors can be extremely helpful. Knock on her door and express your condolences for her loss. Introduce yourself. Tell her you realize you don’t know her name, but you know that you've been neighbors for quite some time.

The greeting you shared with this woman’s husband is something you can tell her about when you visit. You can tell her how kind you thought her husband was and that you know he will be terribly missed. Bring her a food item if you can. It is traditional for neighbors and friends to bring pre-cooked food for the bereaved so that they have food to eat without the need to prepare it. Ask her if she needs anything, and give her your number to call if she should need to reach out.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors | Death | Etiquette & Ethics