Sometimes it's impossible to travel long distances for a funeral or to express sympathy for a grieving family even when you really want to do so. If you find it impossible to get away when someone has passed on who lives a fair distance from you, there are still things that you can do to pay your respects to the deceased and to send your love and sympathy to the bereft.
Make a Donation in Memory of the Deceased
It's becoming commonplace to list a certain cause that was important to the deceased in many obituaries and death announcements. If a cause isn't listed, and you don't know the person who passed away well enough to discern which cause would be meaningful to them, you can always call up the family and ask. They will likely be thankful that you are interesting in honoring their loved one in this generous way. If the deceased had a family or young children, you may be instead directed to a college fund for donations.
Send a Condolence Card to Each Person
Send a condolence card directly to the home of ones who are grieving. This can be sent ahead of the funeral or after it, but it's separate from what you send to the funeral home itself. Choose a card that you think will best comfort the bereft. If you know several people who are grieving, send a personalized condolence card to each person that acknowledges the special relationship that individual had with the deceased. If you recall the deceased person talking positively about the person or telling stories about them, share that within the card.
Arrange to Have Food Delivered
Call up a restaurant near where the grieving family lives and plan to have a few meals delivered. In the aftermath of a death, oftentimes groups of friends will get together to ensure that the bereaved family does not have to worry about cooking meals for at least a couple of weeks as they work through their grief. Try to coordinate with friends who are doing that to discern which date and time would work best or the meal delivery. If nobody has taken the lead, set up the delivery after speaking with the bereaved family.
Finally, keep in mind that the important thing is to express how you feel and reach out to your loved ones who are in mourning. By making an effort and showing that you care, you may be providing a great deal of comfort, even more than you realize at the time.