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What Not To Say to a Grieving Parent

In the face of tragedy and grief, it’s hard to know what to say or do.  And one thing I’ve noticed is that some people—not most, maybe even not many, but more than enough—say and do what they think would help them, without really considering what might be helpful to the person who’s grieving.

I don’t really want to get into the doing side of things at this point, but I can definitely talk about the saying.  The most basic rule is:  don’t let your discomfort with tragedy and grief push you into saying whatever comes to mind.  A person’s grief is not a wall against which you should throw a spaghetti pot of nostrums, hoping that one of them will help.  Maybe one will, but the harm likely caused by the others will outweigh it.

The second most basic rule is:  don’t assume that a grieving person believes what you believe, or even that they believe what they believed before the tragedy.  They may surprise or even shock you.  The atheist may suddenly talk about an afterlife; the theist may angrily reject the existence of higher powers.  These may be temporary shifts, or not, but they are raw, honest expressions of grief.  Apply this rule in the exercise of the most basic rule, above.

Right now, I can only address this from the perspective of a grieving parent, so I will, though this all does apply to anyone who’s grieving—the child of a dead parent, the close friend of the recently deceased, and so on.  Let’s start out with things you should say to a grieving parent.

“I’m so sorry.”

You’ve let them know you feel sorrow for them, are thinking about them, and are generally there in support of them.  It seems like a lot for so little a sentence, but it’s all there.  I think this is just about the most universally acceptable thing you can say to a grieving parent, and it also has the benefit of being the most appropriate thing to say.

Be prepared for them to say “me too” or something like that; otherwise, they’ll probably thank you.  Do not tell them that no thanks are necessary.  Let them acknowledge your care and support in what is likely the only way they can manage, with the only words they can find.  Which leads us to the next thing you can fairly safely say.

“There are no words.”

Because after expressing your sorrow, there really aren’t.  There are no words that can explain it, no words that can make it better, no words that can take away their anguish.  I doubt there ever will be.

Beyond those two things, you can offer to help in some way—which is part of the doing that I said I wasn’t going to get into, but I’ll say here that you should only say this if you’re willing to do laundry or dishes or whatever else they request—or just sit quietly with them until they speak.  Then follow their lead in the conversation.  They may not speak at all, even if you sit with them for hours.  Be okay with this, or be somewhere else.


All right, so what do you not say to a grieving parent?  Honestly, we could be here all day with that, but I’ll skip over the ones that are obviously Just Wrong and address some of the most common ones that seem to pass by without comment.  And yes, I’ve had all of them said, tweeted, or Facebooked at me, or at least very near me.

Of course, all of these are dependent on the parent in question.  If they say their child is in a better place now, you can absolutely agree with them.  In fact, you should agree with them, or at least refrain from disagreement, regardless of whatever you personally believe.

Because that’s what you do if a grieving parent expresses a belief you don’t hold: You agree with them.  Now is not the time to be undermining whatever framework is holding them together; they have little enough of that as it is.  If you’re religious and a non-religious parent says that their loved one is gone forever, not existing at all, you go along with it.  If you’re non-religious and a grieving religious parent says their loved one is in a better place, in the arms of God, you go along with it.  This is about them, not you.  Adhere to the Ring Theory at all times.

That said, here we go.

“How are you doing?”

How do you think the parent of a dead child is doing?  Okay, I admit that this might be acceptable if you know them very well or if enough time has passed—though how could you know if enough time has passed?—and because it comes from a place of concern for their well-being, this might get half a pass.  Except what it usually does is force them to either lie conventionally (“I’m okay”) or tell the painful, probably swear-heavy truth.  Better would be “I’ve been thinking about you” or even “I’ve been worried about how you’re doing”, though not by very much.

It’s also very much the case that this has been culturally ingrained for many of us; it’s just a longer way of saying “hello”, fired off without thinking, and so it just slips out.  Grief creates an extraordinary circumstance, though, and you need to go into it challenging all of your preconceived notions about how to interact with other people.  Be aware of what you’re about to say and how it might affect the person in front of you.  (I mean, you should probably always do that anyway, but make sure you do it in this situation.)

“It’s all part of God’s plan.” / “God has a special plan for them.” / “Everything is in God’s hands.”

You just told the parent of a dead child that God planned the death of their child.  That God meant for it to happen, wanted it to happen, and in fact arranged events so that it would be sure to happen.  This is not comforting.  It is very much like the opposite.

“God needed another angel in Heaven.”

You just told the parent of a dead child that their loved one is gone because an all-powerful deity took their child away from them, on purpose, for its needs, not caring what it did to them.  Also, if they don’t believe in God (or even a version of God sufficiently similar to yours), you just said the equivalent of “Santa needed another elf in his workshop.”  Would you say that to a dead child’s parent?  Then don’t say this either.

“Now they’re watching over you.”

You just reminded the parents of a dead child that for all their care and efforts, they could not protect their loved one from untimely death, which is pretty much the most basic responsibility a parent feels.  Furthermore, it is the job (some would say calling, others would say privilege) of parents to watch over and protect their children, not the other way around.  Telling them that this arrangement has now been inverted does not help.

“They’re in a better place now.” / “They’re where they belong.”

You just told the parent of a dead child that there is a place better for them than the home that sheltered them and the family that cherished them.  That the child truly belongs somewhere other than with the people who loved them most.  Don’t do that.

“Everything happens for a reason.”

You just implied that the child is dead because something their parents did resulted in the death.  That wasn’t the intent, but it’s still in there, easily picked up on by parents racked with overwhelming regret and, very possibly, guilt.  (Even parents who did everything they could in a no-win situation are likely to feel guilt that they didn’t do more or couldn’t find a way out.)

“Maybe it’s for the best.”

You just told the parent of a dead child that it’s better their child is dead than still alive.  No.  Just no.


The one I almost included was “I’m praying for you”, because you don’t always know what the other person thinks of prayer.  In general, though, I think most non-religious people (even grieving parents) will mentally translate it to “I’m thinking of you and care about you”.  Of course, if you know for a fact the grieving parent is non-religious, you should probably think hard about skipping this one.  You can still pray for the non-religious, obviously, but say that you’ve been thinking about them.

There are a bunch more that are borderline.  “At least they aren’t suffering any more” is very risky, for example, even if the child was in fact suffering greatly before they died.  It reminds the parent of their child’s suffering, for example, and they may feel guilt as well as grief about that (see above).

As a last note, be careful about what terminology you use regarding death.  Some parents won’t want to say or hear that word, preferring instead phrases like “passed away” or “passed on”.  Others actually find phrases like “passed away” or “lost” to be more painful.  Again, take your cues from the griever.  If possible, don’t use any death-related terminology until they do, and then use the words they do.

To sum up:  think hard about what will help them rather than what will soothe you; do not contradict expressions of grief even when they conflict with your beliefs; be sure to adhere to the Ring Theory; take your cues from the griever.  And be prepared for just about anything.


My thanks to Gini Judd, Kate Kikel, and TJ Luoma for their pre-publication feedback on this post.

31 Responses»

    • #1
    • Comment
    • Wed 2 Jul 2014
    • 1038
    rendered speechless (@dharawal) wrote in to say...

    I am so sorry and I am thinking of you and your family and if I didn’t live so far away I would be offering more concrete things than just my thoughts and sorrow.

    • #2
    • Comment
    • Wed 2 Jul 2014
    • 1053
    Lila Hanft wrote in to say...

    What about, “I know you’re feeling awful now, but GOD WON’T GIVE YOU MORE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE?” Along with all that “better place” and “God’s plan” stuff, this is the line of intended comfort that most appalls me.

    I think people don’t realize how much “I’m there for you” or “I’m thinking of you” can mean. The need to keep connected to other human beings (though not too closely, for me at least) can be very strong and knowing you’re not alone in your misery can be a big comfort.

    But beyond conveying supportive presence, people should really refrain from needing anything from you when you’re grieving, especially not assurances that you’re “doing OK” (chin up, this too shall pass . . .)

    You didn’t mention this, which I hope means no one has been clueless enough to say this to you, but another thing people say to grieving parents is, “you’re lucky you still have your other children” or even “you have to be strong for your other children.” Implying that children are interchangable or that having lost one child you’ll somehow forget to take care of the others.

    Anyway, I’m thinking of you.

    • #3
    • Comment
    • Wed 2 Jul 2014
    • 1058
    Bob McDonald wrote in to say...

    Thank you Eric, I don’t know how you can find the wherewithal to post something so well expressed and helpful at a time like this, but I am bookmarking this right now while hoping that I never need to refer to it.

    • #4
    • Comment
    • Wed 2 Jul 2014
    • 1100
    Greg B. wrote in to say...

    I’d add don’t tell someone grieving your own story of loss, either.

    Someone grieving doesn’t want to hear your personal anecdotes of loss. It sounds selfish and doesn’t help the griever in any way.

    So sorry for your loss, Eric – thoughts are with you and your family.

    • #5
    • Comment
    • Wed 2 Jul 2014
    • 1102
    Liz C. wrote in to say...

    Yeah, when my father died of lung cancer when I was 10, I got a lot of the “God needed another angel in Heaven” and “God has a special plan for them” and “It’s all part of God’s plan” sentiments from people. And my response basically exactly amounted to being similar what you said here: “But God can take care of Himself! Mom and I needed Dad more than God does!” and “What plan could possibly justify making a good man suffer and die and get taken away from his family?”

    I think I would have eventually realized I was born agnostic and fallen away from Catholicism eventually no matter what, but the whole situation vastly accelerated the process.

    You have my deepest sympathies. I’ve been sitting here reading all your posts on your daughter’s progress and wishing I could somehow wave a magic wand through the internet and make it all turn out all right so didn’t have to go through the same pain.

    • #6
    • Comment
    • Wed 2 Jul 2014
    • 1112
    pixelsrzen wrote in to say...

    Thank you for this post. Such an important but often not talked about topic.

    Best wishes to you and yours,

    Jim.

    • #7
    • Comment
    • Wed 2 Jul 2014
    • 1157
    Colin wrote in to say...

    My mother died after a 2 and a half year battle with pancreatic cancer in May.

    One that got me was in having to call and inform all the different companies that needed to be informed, the response every single time was an immediate “I’m sorry for your loss” which while I assume is meant with the best intent, it just dragged on me. It felt like a fed line that didn’t really have any sympathy behind it. Maybe it’s because in our culture we use the word “sorry” too frequently that it doesn’t have much meaning.

    It got to the point where I would prepare for this line by not leaving any pause between saying my mother passed away, and quickly went to the next sentence, hoping to close that door. It doesn’t always work, but I just couldn’t deal with the hallmark response anymore.

    What I did find more comforting (and it came from someone who has a grief counseling background) was them saying “My heart breaks for your loss.” That, to me, has such a more profound meaning, is so much more personal, and touching.

    As difficult it was to care for my my mother through her passing, I can’t imagine the loss of a child.

    Wishing you and your family serenity.

    • #8
    • Comment
    • Wed 2 Jul 2014
    • 1211
    Tina Barbatsalou wrote in to say...

    The loss of a beloved one is always a painful procedure. A hug, with no words is a much better way to express your feelings towards a grieving person, than ridiculous, medieval-deriving words of condolences. Among the few I have heard:
    “God is testing you” … seriously?
    “How are you going to live after that?”
    The parody gets worse in societies where tradition imposes an open coffin inside the deceasedperson’s place.
    “Look at him/her, don’t worry, he/she died without suffering,it is like sleeping”

    • #9
    • Comment
    • Wed 2 Jul 2014
    • 1215
    Nancy Massey wrote in to say...

    Thank you Eric for sharing this.

    • #10
    • Comment
    • Wed 2 Jul 2014
    • 1221
    Cliff Tyllick wrote in to say...

    On “you must be strong”: It can be inferred to mean the survivor somehow wasn’t strong enough to care for the child, parent, sibling, or friend who died.

    Recalling my experience as a child in the days after my mother died, the statement that most offended me was, “I know just how you feel.”

    No. You don’t. Because if you really knew how I felt, you would know that you had just said the very last thing that would help me at that time. You just told me that you’re not available for me to share my feelings, to talk through what had happened so I could process my grief. As you said, Eric, the most important message is that you are available to support the person who is grieving. It can be said in words, in gestures, or in both. But in both cases, take your cues from them.

    For example, you might decide that some task is so difficult that you should do it for them. Don’t—at least not without finding out that they want that help. Saying “If you would like, I can do this for you” is OK—so long as you are neither surprised nor offended if they say “No.”

    The toughest part comes a month or two later. Staying connected is important, but it’s hard to know how to help. For me, the best thing most people could do was to have included me in whatever they would have included me in anyway. But for my Dad, I’m sure the same invitations were tough to accept, because Mom had always been a part of those activities. So, again, make the offer—but understand and accept it if they turn you down.

    Don’t try to be my therapist. Just keep being my friend.

    • #11
    • Comment
    • Wed 2 Jul 2014
    • 1339
    John wrote in to say...

    We heard many similar things when our son was stillborn – “it’s probably for the best” was particularly offensive (they assumed genetic issues, when it was more likely my wife’s body killed him), not to mention “well, at least you have 2 other children.”

    I am so sorry for your loss – I wanted to give you a hug at the service but did not want to intrude.

    “Rather often I’m asked whether the grief remains as intense as when I wrote the book. The wound is no longer raw. But it has not disappeared. That is as it should be. If he was worth loving, he is worth grieving over. Grief is existential testimony to the worth of the one loved. That worth abides. So I own my grief. I do not try to put it behind me, to get over it, to forget it.” – Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son

    • #12
    • Comment
    • Wed 2 Jul 2014
    • 1340
    Jeff wrote in to say...

    To close friends I will often say “What would you like from me: just to listen, to listen and respond, or to add my own experiences to what you are saying?” It shows I want to listen if they’d like to talk but it also allows the other person to help define the conversation.

    • #13
    • Comment
    • Wed 2 Jul 2014
    • 1516
    John Foliot wrote in to say...

    Eric,

    I too am one of the thousands who have been impacted by all that you have shared with us these past months. I recognize the courage (and cathartic release) that writing about it was for you, and I silently grieved for your and yours.

    Sometimes, just sometimes, the best thing to actually say is nothing – especially when you are not that close to the person. I’m not close to you – we’ve met, but that’s pretty much it – and so I’ve pretty much not bombarded you with any kind of what is likely to be just more of “I’m sorry”. (And yet, now, I am breaking that restraint)

    I *am* sorry, be sure of that, but I hope and believe that you know already that those of us that are part of your largest circle – webizens who have been impacted by your contributions to the web – we are all sorry for you and your loss(es). You don’t need to be reminded by us any more – I believe you’ve heard that enough. Have you? (I don’t know).

    I wish you Peace.

    • #14
    • Comment
    • Wed 2 Jul 2014
    • 1649
    Heather wrote in to say...

    I’m so sorry your family is going through this. There truly are no words. Thank you for this post. I found the same things when my big brother died.

    I’m just a random stranger on the internet but please know I care.

    • #15
    • Comment
    • Wed 2 Jul 2014
    • 1910
    Cynthia wrote in to say...

    You don’t know me, but you know our daughter Nicky Murray Turco. Her younger sister Emily died in 2000. I have read just about everything and anything ever written about surviving/grieving/etc. the death of a child. After Emily’s death I was desperate for even the smallest bit of wisdom or insight that might help me get through the next day/hour/minute and with the help of amazon.com, I acquired quite a library of books about this topic. Eric, you have an incredible gift for putting into words what every parent whose child has died has felt. (I am one of those who cannot stand the expression “lost” a child–I didn’t lose Emily, she was stolen from me) There is really nothing I or anyone else can say to you. There is no short cut when it comes to grieving. You have to go through it, not around it, but straight through it, and it seems insurmountable and you think you cannot bear another moment, but somehow you do. That’s a small comfort when you are so deeply missing and grieving the absence of Rebecca from your lives. Speaking for myself, I know I am very uncomfortable when people tell me they admire how “strong” I am–what the heck else am I supposed to do? I miss Emily no less today than I did when she died 13 1/2 years ago, but some sort of something (as I said, there are no words) eventually allowed me to move on. Move on, but forever changed and never forgetting my sweet girl, as you will never forget yours.

    • #16
    • Comment
    • Thu 3 Jul 2014
    • 0218
    Anna wrote in to say...

    When mom passed away I was told ‘it’s for the best’.

    Then some people who learned on the grape wine of her passing, called me and insisted that they are coming over for DINNER. Apparently my being in mourning didn’t matter, I HAD to entertain them…. told them NO and never heard from them again

    Asked rabbi at local synagogue we didn’t belong to to perform the service, he refused on account of not knowing us.

    Made a few calls and asked very Orthodox one and he accepted without knowing us.

    • #17
    • Comment
    • Thu 3 Jul 2014
    • 0539
    Paul Steffens wrote in to say...

    I’m a great supporter of the “I don’t know what to say” reply (maybe that’s more common in Dutch?). It is honest and shows accurate emotion, specially if you are the first in your social circle to suffer great loss.
    Also, you don’t have to, what’s the saying? walk on eggshells? around someone in grief. I found it interesting to observe (with myself) that when you are experiencing a profound loss, you are just fine 95-99% of the time, making jokes and what have you, just as you always do. It is just those other few percent which are tough.

    • #18
    • Comment
    • Thu 3 Jul 2014
    • 1610
    Kevin M wrote in to say...

    Eric,

    So sorry for your family’s loss. I read your wonderful thoughts about your Rebecca, they make me happy for the wonder and joy she brought and so sad for the loss.

    not much else to say, other than it just, sucks.

    • #19
    • Comment
    • Fri 4 Jul 2014
    • 0330
    Sambeau wrote in to say...

    When I phoned into work to tell them my son had just died my boss said, “Well, we’ve had a pretty shitty day here, too.”

    8-|

    • #20
    • Comment
    • Fri 4 Jul 2014
    • 0547
    Jimmy Edmonds wrote in to say...

    Dear Eric

    thanks for this – we’ve had all of the above – my wife’s doctor quoted you exactly ‘everything happens for a reason’ and my sister in law in our first encounter after my son Josh’s death (3 years ago) regaled me with a horrific story of how her cousins were murdered some 30 years ago – like that was supposed to make our tragedy more palliatable. Worse tho for us was when the same person emailed their Christmas newsletter in the first year after Josh died – in amongst news of recent graduations, success and failures on the farm, and some predictable gripes about the state of the economy was a two line paragraph expressing their sorrow for the recent loss of their nephew – no mention of us his parents though or any thoughts or words of what we might be going through. While there are many who through fear and/or embarrassment will say all the wrong things, there are others who seem quite happy to ride your grief for their own selfish purpose. There are a few of course that can honestly and silently stand by you but sadly we have found many newer and closer friends amongst other bereaved parents … am I allowed to make a plug here – its a film called SAY THEIR NAME which we made for the UK section of THE COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS, a peer to peer network for all BP’s …. http://beyondgoodbye.co.uk/?page_id=3918

    Thanks for reading and supportive thoughts to you Eric

    • #21
    • Comment
    • Fri 4 Jul 2014
    • 1249
    Lila Hanft wrote in to say...

    Sambeau, my mouth is still agape at that.

    • #22
    • Comment
    • Fri 4 Jul 2014
    • 1851
    Michael wrote in to say...

    I am humbled by your wise and unselfish post. It never occurred to me that parents might think that “Everything happens for a reason” means they did something wrong. Could I add to the list, “I know what you’re going through,” because most of us really don’t. Still, I’ve been grieving for weeks with you and for you.

    I see another inner ring in the Ring Theory, one person who is more directly affected even than the bereaved. For example, we no longer call your daughter Becca, since she requested to be called Rebecca, and we honor her in that. We in the outer rings don’t need to insist that her eternal state is the one that fits our opinions. Even for people of faith, the scriptures don’t give details, and certainly not sappy ones.

    • #23
    • Comment
    • Sat 5 Jul 2014
    • 0958
    Tony wrote in to say...

    I’m just a stranger from across the pond but I heard about you and Rebecca from Gruber, Kottke et al. I’ve been deeply affected by your eloquent and moving writing. I’ve been thinking about you and your family a lot and have shed tears for you. I’ve also been inspired to make a donation to a charity that tries to help children and the families of children with cancer here in Britain.

    I really am so sorry and there really are no words.

    Thank you for writing.

    • #24
    • Pingback
    • Tue 8 Jul 2014
    • 0128
    Received from How to Answer Stupid Questions | Peace, Joy, Pancakes

    […] become something of a genre for advice columnists: What not to say to . . . a pregnant woman, a grieving parent, someone who has cancer. Those are the times when unconsidered words can cause either distress or […]

    • #25
    • Comment
    • Tue 8 Jul 2014
    • 2145
    Elizabeth wrote in to say...

    First let me say, I’m so incredibly sorry for your loss. I pray that you and your family will find peace and comfort during this most difficult time.

    That being said, I have found that when people say to my face “I’m so sorry,” I actually don’t like it. I don’t want anyone to say anything, really. I don’t want to talk about him, I don’t want to think about him, I don’t want to admit to myself or anyone else that it happened and talking about it makes it real. I am so uncomfortable when someone says they are sorry (but oddly comforted when it is typed out to me in a Facebook comment, for instance). Almost like I am then expected to say something like, “It’s okay. Thanks.” Because that’s what they want to hear. They want to know that I’m okay. It’s not okay. I’m not okay. It’s the hardest thing I have ever been through in my entire life and 7 years later I am still very much dealing with it. There is no amount of imagining that he’s my guardian angel in heaven that comforts me. No amount of “you’ll see him again someday” that makes it okay to live with every day in this strange reality without him in it. Also, don’t tell me that time heals. Time stopped for me the day he died. My whole world crumbled around me. Everyone says to just talk about him, keep his memory alive, it’s healing. I suppose for some it is. A huge part of me doesn’t want to, because then I have to accept that he really is gone. I’ll never hear his voice again or see his smile again. That’s the harsh and cold reality of it.

    I suppose the most comforting thing anyone has ever said to my face was what I began this comment with… prayers that I find peace and comfort. My comfort really seems to come from knowing that others are feeling what I’m feeling. There are others in this world who are going through what I’m going through, and it is when they say they are sorry for my loss or just don’t say anything at all but give me the biggest, warmest hug imaginable that I truly feel it might someday be okay. Just don’t tell me how you lost your grandmother and expect me to feel you truly understand what I’m going through. I do sympathize with a lost grandmother, I’ve lost mine as well and we were close and she was young, it was tragic, but it just does not compare.

    Thank you for posting this.

    • #26
    • Comment
    • Thu 17 Jul 2014
    • 1712
    Tony Bolattoo wrote in to say...

    …meanwhile in Newtown Ct., I don’t recall any of those parents blogging about the “rules” of how love and compassion should be expressed to them over the loss of their children. Receiving ANY comments from a person should be considered a blessing and an expression of love from a hardened human race. Yet you feel the need to basically mock anyone who’s compassion doesn’t make the grade because their syntax is off. If it came from a persons heart, who cares what words actually come out of their mouths? We are all children when it comes to grief.

    It’s a terrible thing you went through and I’m completely heartbroken. I think of your pain often. Although, your selfishness at this time is quite questionable. How about this rule…Fathers, rather then wallowing your own anger and blogging about it just to stroke your own ego, surrender your selfishness. You might actually find you start paying more attention those closest to you who are also suffering and who also share your grief, yet lack the eloquence to express it. (mostly because they fear you will mock them). Man up and lead your loved ones through the anger and grief. You may actually start feeling all the love that surrounds you rather then devoting your time to sticking your nose up at those you consider unworthy of your approval.

    Your “recommendation” of “I’m so sorry, there are no words”…sounds pretty empty, scripted, robotic and soulless to me.

    I truly hope you and your family find the peace you deserve at this time.

    • #27
    • Comment
    • Thu 17 Jul 2014
    • 2108
    Lila Hanft wrote in to say...

    Seriously, Tony?
    I’m pretty sure that “Stop being so selfish” would be on the list of things not to say, had Eric anticipated that anyone would be insensitive enough to say it.

    • #28
    • Comment
    • Fri 18 Jul 2014
    • 1106
    Eric Meyer wrote in to say...

    I knew that comments of that sort happen, Lila—a friend got them after her mother died—but I felt I should include only what I had experienced myself. The post was written in a blunt and direct style, so it’s fair that Tony use a similar writing style, even if some of his assumptions are off target.

    I do agree that we’re all children before grief, Tony, some more than others. As children, we have much to learn, and can only do that by sharing what we’ve learned. For example, I’ve learned that “I’m sorry” sounds as empty and robotic, or as soulful as human, as the person who says it. Which makes it just like anything else, really. The primary benefit is that it, like “there are no words”, does not inadvertently add harm.

    • #29
    • Comment
    • Mon 28 Jul 2014
    • 2310
    Marie wrote in to say...

    You don’t know me, and I hardly know you. Up to now you were a technical reference, a twitter account I loosely followed. And suddenly I followed a link, and I am truly, deeply, sorry for you.

    I can’t relate to your loss, but I can relate to your children feeling, as a very little girl whose younger sister died after a few weeks. There are words not to say to grieving parents, and there are even more words not to say to young children, as they don’t have the maturity to fight the feelings of uncertainty, of incomprehension and culpability some words carry.

    And I also deeply thank you for expressing all this in a way that helps us.

    • #30
    • Comment
    • Thu 31 Jul 2014
    • 0902
    Lydia Mann wrote in to say...

    Thank you for this education. Yesterday morning I returned from a run to find a devastated neighbor following discovery that the man with whom she had been living and caregiving had just jumped to his death from our roof.
    I stayed with her for an hour as a wall of policemen and detectives asked questions and blocked her from returning to their apartment or viewing the courtyard in which he fell. The whole time I was channeling this post and so grateful you’d laid it all out so clearly. I think I did a fair job of just being present with her, taking her cues and not imposing.
    I can’t thank you enough for helping me be my best during this impossibly awful experience.

    • #31
    • Comment
    • Wed 3 Sep 2014
    • 1603
    Thomas wrote in to say...

    My heart goes out to you Eric. I still pray for you and your family.

    Peace be with you.

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