Creating a Lasting Place to Sit and Remember

Jim from Texas built a wooden bench for a friend’s family, who lost their loved one to COVID-19.

Jim was left employed when his workplace closed their doors due to economic damage sustained over the year. As part of the inaugural class of our Unemployment Transition Program, Jim chose for his capstone project to help his friend Ryan memorialize his stepfather Eddie, who lost his life to COVID-19.

Lessons Learned

Q. How do you feel this project affected the family or individual you helped? 

Ryan is such a dear friend of mine and this has allowed us to know each other and bond with one another on levels we haven’t reached before. He’s been checking in with me as to where things stand, if we need help, and generally curious about progress, expressing that this means a great deal to him that we would build something for his family in memory of Eddie. That brings my heart so much warmth.

Q. How did the project help you?

The project helped me to understand that selflessness has ripple effects, both for you and for those you work towards helping. Beyond the logistics of the project, wrangling resources and booking time to work on it, the project really has helped me emotionally. Peeling back the barriers of awkwardness or uncomfortability in having conversations about grief or mourning, and embracing those feelings. Not only embracing them, but leveraging them to better understand ourselves and take a step back to see the bigger picture of this life that we’re in.

Q. What advice would you give to other people who are comforting a bereaved family/individual? 

Your first job is to listen and allow them to express their emotion freely. Then you can show your empathy and offer your support. It’s easy to donate money or mail gifts to someone, but connecting with them on a human level and listening to their thoughts and feelings and relating to them as a friend and fellow human, I would say that’s where the real healing happens. At the end of the day, however, simply offering your support in whatever way you are capable is the starting point. Don’t wait to help someone, just get started and listen. The rest will follow.

Jim graduated from our October 2020 Cohort with Distinction.

If you or someone you know is unemployed due to Covid-19, see if our Unemployment Transition Program is right for you. Additionally, if you have lost a loved one to COVID-19 and would like to be a recipient of one of our participant’s capstone project, please look at our Bereavement Support Page to sign up.