It’s not unusual. You have a vacation booked, a work commitment, or family plans, and then someone dies. The funeral or memorial service is scheduled and you are unable to attend. What do you do when a loved one, friend, or colleague dies and you can’t change your plans? Will the family be hurt by your absence? Do you contact the family ahead of time to explain? Or, do you miss the funeral rituals and not mention it at all?
There are times when it is absolutely unavoidable…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on September 28, 2012 at 12:00pm — No Comments
One of the questions I’m most frequently asked is, “How do I write a sympathy note?” Most of us know how to write a note; after all we’ve been writing thank you notes for many years. But addressing the topic of death is challenging; what can we possibly say to make someone feel better after losing a loved one?
Loss is painful and when someone is hurting, it’s…
With tornadoes and floods dominating the news, it’s easy to feel helpless in the wake of such personal tragedy. In this technology-driven world, we’re witnessing breaking news, reading, seeing and hearing first-hand how these disasters personally impact individuals and communities. Who can forget the faces of those interviewed after losing their loved ones, homes, schools and places of employment?
We’ve seen acts of courage, heroism and extensions of human kindness, but with…Continue
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on June 3, 2011 at 11:30am — No Comments
Memorial donations are a way to honor the memory of the deceased. Sometimes, the family of the deceased chooses the organizations and they’re noted in the obituary or funeral announcement. Individuals also choose organizations themselves; most often ones they think might be meaningful to the bereaved family.
Memorial donations are usually acknowledged. Sometimes with a note and short message of appreciation; other times, the bereaved might use the note as a cathartic expression,…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on June 29, 2010 at 1:30pm — No Comments
It’s been almost five years since my friend Betsy died. She left a big void in my life as we had one of those rare friendships where we were truly like family.
Betsy had a form of cancer that did not respond to post surgical treatment so I learned not to take our friendship for granted. For several years, I worried about Betsy and always asked how she was doing. Finally, she told me she had stopped worrying about the cancer; she considered it a period where she was sick and now she…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on February 9, 2010 at 12:30pm — No Comments
While in my twenties, a close friend’s mom died. My friend shared the time and place of the visitation and yet I chose not to attend. I had good excuses; I was living in a large city and was unfamiliar with the part of town where the visitation was held. Also, my faith does not hold visitations and I had no idea what to expect. I chose to write a condolence note and I stayed away. The day after the visitation, before my note arrived, my friend called. During our conversation, she told me…Continue
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on November 5, 2009 at 6:00am — No Comments
We honor the deceased by making donations in their memory. Many obituaries designate a charity or fund selected by the family, but what if the organization is one you’d prefer not to support or worse, in conflict with your values? Do you donate anyway or ignore the family’s request, making a donation to a charity or cause you support? And what if there is no indication of where to donate? How do you choose something appropriate?
Ask yourself, "Why am I making the donation?" Is it to…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on October 5, 2009 at 8:00am — No Comments
It’s a challenge to craft a meaningful condolence note in the best of circumstances. But how do you acknowledge a death when the relationship was difficult or even estranged?
The depth of one’s grief doesn’t necessarily equate to the quality of the relationship, so just because someone had a difficult relationship doesn’t mean they’re not hurting. It’s even possible that they’re hurting more because the opportunity for reconciliation has passed. And they’ll grieve that loss along…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on July 28, 2009 at 7:00pm — No Comments
This April, we’ve had two anniversaries of tragic events that deeply touched our lives: Columbine High School and Virginia Tech. Many of us remember where we were when we heard the news and how fixed we were on media coverage. Some of us lived in towns where the victims lived; some of us lived far away. Even if we didn’t know the victims or their families, we all felt touched.
Despite how easily the news of these tragedies overshadows our days, we quickly pick up the…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on April 21, 2009 at 2:30pm — 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