Q: I signed up to bring a dinner to a family in my community who had a recent death. Can I just drop it off, or would that be rude? I am happy to bring a dinner, but I don't really know what to say.

I think just dropping off the casserole is completely fine. The reality is that the family may not want to engage either. They may be worn out and tired of saying the same things over and over to mourners and visitors. You are moved to want to assist, and that’s great. You don’t need to explain to them why or how, and you don’t need to feel obligated to chit chat just to chit chat.

One creative way I’ve seen this done before is to leave a little note with the recipe written on it. When my grandfather died, a family friend knew that his favorite dish was Beef Stroganoff. This person dropped off a dish of Beef Stroganoff and left it with a handwritten recipe. The note said, “I know Peter loved this, and I thought you guys might enjoy it.”The thoughtful gesture of adding the recipe was really well received. When that dish came into the house it was a moment of lightness for us. It was sort of an inside joke or story, it was information that only someone who knew Pop would have shared. We laughed about how he used to absolutely destroy a plate of Beef Stroganoff when my grandmother made it. And she wasn’t a great cook, so we ribbed her about that too.

So, not everything needs a conversation. Sometimes a short note is fine, even if you write simply, “Good vibes from the Millers.”

The great thing these days is you can put it on the porch and then text the family. If you are kind of nervous about ringing the doorbell, just text and say, “Hey, didn’t want to disturb you guys but just wanted to leave something warm on the front porch. Always here for you.”

Let's be honest, we are living in an age where parents downstairs text their kids upstairs to come down to dinner. In my house, texting is our version of a handwritten note. So a text for me would feel friendly. Definitely better than ringing the doorbell and running away.

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Our advice is based on our experience cleaning out and settling estates for our clients. Each project is different, and each state's laws are different. We always recommend that you consult personally with experts about your particular situation before making any important decisions.