I learned to be comfortable with the bereaved because at a young age, I was the bereaved. I witnessed firsthand how young friends, their parents, my neighbors, teachers, school officials, relatives, and family friends treated me and interacted with me upon learning that my father died.
And yet it was my mom who taught me how to comfort the bereaved. She connected by phone, cooked a meal, visited the bereaved, and continued to help long past when others ceased to…Continue
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on August 8, 2012 at 2:00pm — No Comments
Words might be the best way to express condolences following a death and it’s the words that stay with us the longest. Unfortunately, it’s the negative words that the bereaved seem to remember, so think carefully before you speak.
One bereaved mom told me that she still remembers what a friend said, even though her baby died thirteen years ago. “She told me my baby was in a better place. How could she be in a better place when she should be here with me?”…Continue
The death of a child is a devastating loss and a life-changing event. It’s hard to know what to say to comfort the bereaved parents. Friends and loved ones may think the parents know best what they need so they might ask the bereaved to call if they need anything. While the sentiment is sincere, when asking, “Please call me,” it places a burden on someone grieving a loss; someone who can barely muster the energy to get out of bed in the morning.
I recently asked bereaved…Continue
It's become hard to escape Father’s Day, as the holiday, like Mother's Day, has taken on a commercial spin. You’ll find restaurants touting special menus, stores producing Father’s Day catalogs, and every type of greeting card you can imagine, for dad, grandfather, son, uncle, cousin, friend, or you name it.
So if you can’t escape it, how do you take the sting out of the first, or second or third for that matter, holiday that a friend or loved one experiences without their…
At a recent meeting, a business associate shared some dreadful news; a mutual acquaintance gave birth a few months ago and the baby died at seven weeks.
There is something profoundly tragic when a baby dies. The news is as shocking as it is rare; out of over 4 million births in the United States in 2006, 28,500 babies died before they were a year old.
You may have experience dealing with the death of adults and maybe children. But infant death is different and because of…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on May 18, 2010 at 9:00am — No Comments
We’re often shocked and hurt by the insensitive and inappropriate things people say and do. But lots of people get it right and seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to supporting and comforting the bereaved. I’m going to start the New Year off on a positive note and share some of the real-life kindnesses you’ve reported to me:
• “In the year since my husband died, my daughter gives me a surprise every month on the anniversary of his death. It might be a candy bar on my…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on January 4, 2010 at 8:00am — No Comments
A young woman who was eight months pregnant gave birth to a stillborn baby. Overcome with grief, she called her supervisor at work and requested he notify her colleagues by e-mail so she wouldn’t have to individually tell her devastating news. It seemed a simple request, but when she returned to work, she learned her supervisor did not notify her colleagues and they were each stunned when she painfully shared the news. Not knowing what to say or do, they avoided her and she felt shunned and…Continue
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on October 26, 2009 at 6:30pm — No Comments
What is it about a miscarriage that makes it so difficult to say the right thing? Women who miscarry report that they’re frequently the target of callous and hurtful comments that dismiss or trivialize their loss. While the list of offenders includes friends, colleagues, and medical professionals, the worst culprits might surprise you; often family members, especially their own moms, mothers-in-law, sisters, and sisters-in-law.
Here’s a list of what you should NEVER say after a…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on October 13, 2009 at 7:30am — No Comments
Susan is in her sixties with four grown children that have brought her great joy. Yet she still feels the sting of a hurtful comment made after her miscarriage decades ago. Susan painfully recounts how a friend expressed no sympathy but asked, “Do you know what caused it?”
Like Susan, Melanie carries a deep hurt from comments after her miscarriage. One friend who also miscarried told her, “My baby lived 19 weeks while yours only lived five.” Melanie wonders, “Should my…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on July 21, 2009 at 3:30pm — No Comments
A member of my community took his life. It was a sudden and traumatic loss and while some people treated his widow with kindness, she shared that she was unprepared for the hurtful actions of others. For example, she saw a friend walking towards her one morning in our small town. The friend saw her too and she quickly crossed the street to avoid her. A colleague also shared a hurtful experience following the suicide of her physician brother. Though she was a child, she vividly…Continue
When someone you hardly know has died, it can be shocking to experience strong emotions. This happened to me several years ago; I read the morning paper and realized that the 15-year-old who died in an automobile accident was the daughter of long ago friends. I had only met the daughter once, shortly after her birth, and yet I remember sobbing as I read her name.
We can’t possibly predict how we’ll feel when someone we know dies; and it’s even harder to imagine how a loss…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on February 24, 2009 at 7:00pm — No Comments
It’s one thing to support a family member or friend dealing with loss but harder to know what to say and do with relationships that lack intimacy. It may seem safe to do nothing when you’re uncertain how best to proceed but it’s the small kindnesses that mean a lot and go a long way in providing comfort. Here are some suggestions from real-life queries:
Q: How can you support a colleague that has experienced a painful loss? My supervisor is really an acquaintance and…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on January 8, 2009 at 2:30pm — No Comments