Dear EFAP: how do I honour someone who has passed away?

Thank you to those who have written to “dear efap” for input on your dilemmas. As you are aware, we read every inquiry that comes in but we are only able to print a small selection of responses.  Our “pithy” answers are modeled after the lighter hearted Dear Abby style and are grounded in common sense.  If your issues require a more personalized level of support please call Employee Wellness/EFAP (1-800-505-4929) and we can confidentially book you a counselling appointment with a senior level therapist.

We welcome all inquiries – please submit these to All printed responses use the anonymous descriptor that you sign your inquiry with and do not reveal any identifying information.  Our goal is to support you through insight and common sense.

Below is our response to the next selection – enjoy!

A not so long time ago an older man became my neighbour and my friend. He was a kind, gentle and supportive soul. We both lived alone and I think we both were lonely, he without children and having recently lost his wife of many years. And me  as I came to  Canada  on my own from a war torn country as  a refugee  after having lost my entire family. Soon he became my confidante, my counsellor, my chef and often my cat sitter when I would work long hours during my residency .He always had an ear listen. He also would explain Canadian ways to me when I just did not quite understand what to do in a situation. He was like the grandpa I never knew. Recently he passed away.

I am very very sad about his passing. I’m still finishing up my degree and have massive debt and so I don’t have much money, but I want to do something in his honour and I just don’t know what to do. I want it to represent the kind of kindness that he showed me. Any ideas?

- Honouring my friend


Dear Honouring my friend


Well he indeed sounds like a very lovely person and a true friend. I can understand how you would want to honour him with something very special. I am wondering if you might consider remembering by “something’ you ‘do” rather than “something” material.  I might suggest you consider engaging in acts of “paying it forward” in his honor. This concept is an expression used for describing when the recipient of a good deed, repays the deed to others, not to the person who did the original nice thing. In your case he left you with a wonderful experience of showing kindness and respect and friendship and a real shoulder to lean on when there were no shoulders in your family left... I wonder what he might make of you doing that kind of thing for others and thus paying forward all of the lovely things that you experienced. A surprise random act of kindness to someone who is in need is a wonderful thing for both the benefactor and the person bestowing the kind deed. The other thing about it is you can pay forward acts of kindness as many times as you like. They are about caring and love and not about material possessions or money.  My sense is that he might just think that that was special and to be able to honor someone so unique over and over again…Well that too is special… Onward my friend.


*    *    *


The advice offered in this column is meant to be used as general guidance based on the facts provided. The opinions or views expressed should not be relied on as treatment or counselling services. If you are a PHC staff member and find yourself in need of counselling or support, please contact Employee Wellness/EFAP toll free at 1-800-505-4929 or 604-872-4929, your family doctor, or another appropriately trained and qualified specialist.


Add new comment