Two women have founded a business that helps families get through one of the hardest possible situations — the death of a loved one. By Your Side, founded by neighbors Sharon Litvinsky and Jennifer Ross, steps in to make arrangements in all aspects of burial and grieving, including many that traditionally have been handled by the family’s place of worship.
With families more scattered than ever, and with fewer people belonging to religious congregations, Litvinsky and Ross have identified a need for professional help with the many tasks that follow a death.
By Your Side helps with choosing a funeral provider, assisting with the eulogy, identifying a location for the service and any after service gatherings, selecting a caterer, providing on-site set-up, clean-up, and running last minute errands.
Beyond this, they help the family later with tasks such as writing thank you notes, organizing the loved one’s paperwork, and coordinating clean up, sale, or removal of items from the family home. By Your Side assumes much of the workload from the family so they can focus on healing and being together.
“Sadly, our services are something many people don’t realize they need until it’s too late. It’s heartbreaking to see families trying to cope with their recent loss on little or no sleep while making arrangements. Family and friends may offer to help, but even getting them organized, and telling them what you need can be difficult. Many decisions have to be made and we have the experience and network to help,” Litvinsky said.
Before founding By Your Side, both Ross and Litvinsky worked in the technology sector. Litvinsky was born in London, where her mother was a teacher and her father was an accountant in the car industry. She eventually went into technology and worked for Computer Associates for the past 10 years. She recently quit to spend more time with her family.
Ross also worked for an IT company designing and implementing software for the past 10 years, quitting her job to be a full-time mom after the birth of her two sons.
The long time neighbors, who lived just three doors down from each other, shared the same desire to help those feeling the stress of losing a loved one.
By Your Side started when a friend’s young son unexpectedly died in 2011. The family was paralyzed with grief. Litvinsky and Ross both sprang into action. They helped the family organize a service in their own backyard. While the family spent time looking at pictures, creating collages, and picking up family and friends from the airport, By Your Side took on most of the administrative tasks. They secured the caterers and cleaning staff, rented chairs, made a trip to purchase supplies for the service and luncheon, emailed funeral service details to guests, and set-up the backyard for the service and lunch afterwards.
Personal loss spurred them into action when in 2012 Litvinsky’s father, who lived in London, died unexpectedly. “Having to put aside my grief in order to coordinate the service and life celebration held afterward, I wasn’t able to spend quality time with my family and friends as they arrived. I needed an expert planner by my side to educate me, identify resources, provide comforting guidance and take on some of the overwhelming workload so I could spend more time with my family.”
Ross too saw how much stress grieving families had to go through just to plan their loved ones’ funerals. “They were drained, both physically and emotionally. But they had no alternative. That is why we decided to do something that would help lessen the workload on grieving families so they can focus their energy on spending time together.”
Litvinsky said families are often offered help from friends and relatives, but not always of the right kind. “You’ve got all these wonderful friends and family coming to visit, but nobody stays to help clean up,” she said.
By Your Side also helps with some awkward social tasks. Litvinsky said a recent client asked her to help usher out some relatives who were overstaying their welcome.
For more information, visit www.byyoursideprinceton.com or call 609-306-5660 or 646-469-7562. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org