When you have lost a loved one, you live in a dark place for a while. You are the beneficiary of many kind gestures: condolences, meals, phone calls, cards, and more. Often, you go through the motions and say thank you, smile, and retreat back into your personal world of sadness. Other times, these gestures of kindness warm your heart, make you smile, or cry.
Random acts of kindness — towards me
Here are a few random acts of kindness that made my day while I was grieving. These are stories from my book Good Grief.
- A stranger showed up out of nowhere while I was standing in Chick-fil-A, put a gift card for $10 in my hand, and then disappeared.
- A stranger at the doctor’s office got up from behind the desk and gave me a hug while I was crying and shared her loss while listening to mine.
- A stranger at Home Depot came out into the parking lot and helped me jump-start my car.
- A friend invited me to stop by her house on my way home from work when I asked. I needed a hug.
- A friend made a date with me, and we went to the park and sat on a bench together — part silence and part talking.
Why do people perform random acts of kindness?
Doing something kind for someone else makes you feel good. It requires reaching outside of yourself and focusing on someone else in need. I have found it’s a doorway out of grief, one step at a time, one kindness at a time. The kindness can be as simple as a smile. You’ll find you feel less gloomy and sad as each action occurs. Intentional acts of kindness are good, too. They provide you with more time away from your sadness and grief as you spend time in preparation and initiation of the “kindness” act.
Tips for getting started on your acts of kindness
Surprise an elderly family member, a neighbor who is lonely, or a shut-in with a small bouquet of flowers. OR — surprise yourself with a lovely bouquet and practice self-kindness. You could even buy a bunch of flowers and make 2 bouquets — one for you and one to give away.
Visit a neighbor
Spend time chatting, watching a movie, reading a book, or crafting with a neighbor. My neighbor Mable and I talk politics, religion, days of yore, and the present time. We laugh a lot.
Give a Surprise
Leave a goodie bag, basket of fruit, or baked goods for someone in need. Ring the doorbell and leave. Mable is also my taste-tester for any new recipes.
Create Little Blessings bags
These are Ziploc bags containing: shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, bar of soap, small tissues, and a card with a statement of hope. Deliver them to FeedNC in Mooresville.
Crochet bird nests
The crocheted nests are made of regular yarn, 2 strands of any color, and made into small, medium, and large sizes.
30-Day Community Service and Kindness Celebration — Be Worthy for Thirty!
From February 21 – March 21, the Lake Norman / Mooresville Exchange Club has adopted this project in celebration of its 30th Anniversary. Members are focused on spreading kindness and love throughout the community using the number 30. You do not have to be a member to participate!
Here are some suggestions:
- Donate 30 care packages for the homeless.
- Donate 30 cans of food.
- Read to a child for 30 minutes.
- Donate $30 to a charity.
- Send 30 cards to veterans.
- Perform 30 acts of kindness.
Although this project is already in progress, you can start your own 30 Days of Community and Kindness Celebration NOW…
Photos courtesy of Cheryl Barrett
Cheryl A. Barrett, RN, MSN, NC-BC, is a retired nurse with 30-plus years in a variety of settings: clinical bedside in ICU, staff educator, academic instructor both didactic and clinical, supervisor, home care education, editorial director of a nursing magazine and is a board certified integrative nurse coach.
In 2018 she published Good Grief: Strategies for Building Resilience and Supporting Transformation, inspired by the death of her husband. She won the American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year, 2018 in the category of Palliative Care and Hospice for her book. She is currently creating a companion workbook for those experiencing grief and loss.
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