Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sad, but true

Elizabeth Bernstein, WSJ, Jan 25, 2011, says it’s hard to know what to do when someone dies.

I am at the age where people are…well…ticking down. First, I find I have to make expressions via email sometimes, which seems pretty breezy to me. I do send a card if I can get to the store.

Often, people say the wrong thing—and know it—so the next time, they say nothing or wait and wait until it’s not timely.

How do you know if the person wants sympathy, interruptions, the necessity of small talk or a breakdown moment? Well, you don’t.

One woman in the story said she’d rather hear something trite than nothing, like her grief was nothing. Maybe that is a rule of thumb.

Val Walker wrote The Art of Comforting,

You can email or text, but also go in person if you can. Let the bereaved take the lead, talk about what he or she wishes.

Suggest some specific help—want me to mow the lawn Saturday? I could take the kids tomorrow if you want.

Don’t just haul over a ton of food. One gal had no appetite and gave it to her dogs.

Some people liked if friends brought up a nice memory of the person.

If the mourner is not religious, this might not be the time to say something like, “He is with Jesus now.”

Also forget: “He is at peace.” “She is out of pain.” “It’s almost a blessing.” “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Don’t post on Facebook unless the death is mentioned there.

This isn’t easy—but to freeze and do nothing is worse.

And don’t stop—don’t shy away after the funeral. Comforting takes a lot of time.

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