One of the kindest things you can do for someone who’s lost a loved one is to help keep their memory alive through stories. I was reminded of this recently when a friend’s daughter wrote to me asking for my support in a philanthropic endeavor to honor her mother’s memory. She added, “I would also like to extend an invitation to those of you who knew my mom personally to send me a short story about my mom. It always makes me smile to know people are remembering her.”
So how do…Continue
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on October 17, 2011 at 9:00am — No Comments
Overwhelmed with stress after her mother’s death, a reader wondered if it was okay to email her friends to let them know her mother died. A caring friend felt it was fine and offered to do the emailing. This helpful gesture relieved the bereaved daughter of a tough task.
Anyone who has had to cope with a loved one’s illness or death is well aware of the added stress in keeping family members and friends informed. The flashing message light on the answering machine becomes…Continue
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on July 12, 2011 at 3:30pm — No Comments
For many millions of us, Facebook has become a key way of keeping in touch with friends and family. Many share news of important life events like births, birthdays, anniversaries. And many also have begun to use Facebook to share news of an important end-of-life event – the death of a loved one. As Legacy.com explores and develops…Continue
Many of us, following a death, have signed guest books online, at Legacy.com perhaps or on a newspaper or funeral home website. And many have also sent handwritten condolence notes or cards. Is it better to share condolences in the online guest book for the deceased, or should you mail a handwritten letter? Should you do both? Condolence expert Robbie Kaplan offers advice. In the end, it may be the message more than the method…Continue
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on February 15, 2011 at 10:00am — No Comments
Not too long ago, there was a death in my family. One family member shared that she had taken care of things; she’d sent a sympathy note and made a donation in the loved one’s memory. She’s correct; she did just what she was supposed to do. But what happens in the days and months after the cards and donations cease?
A friend dealing with a loss shared that one thing she noticed was how quickly other people move on. When you’ve had a significant loss and while you’re grieving and…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on July 27, 2010 at 2:30pm — No Comments
A friend called, her voice filled with despair. Her dad’s cancer had returned and he was back in the hospital. I automatically responded, “What can I do to help?” She asked if I would keep her mom company at the hospital on Saturday morning so she could run her errands. I agreed and was glad I had the opportunity to visit her dad, as he died ten days later.
But the visit itself took a toll; my mom had died the year before and I found the hospital a stark reminder of what I’d lost.…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on June 15, 2010 at 10:30am — 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
Do you wonder, “How can I be supportive when I live far away?” Or, have you concluded it is too difficult to support someone from a distance and think, “I wish I lived closer so I can be supportive.”
There’s much you can do to show support from afar, and you can still make a difference in helping loved ones deal with loss. What you choose to do depends on your willingness to be involved and the needs or desires of your loved one.
Here are some ideas of what’s worked for…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on January 26, 2010 at 3:00pm — No Comments
I thought I knew everything there was to know about grief. After all, I’d faced some terrible losses by my early thirties. And yet my mom’s death really shook me. The grief and sense of loss was devastating and I found it incredibly hard to pull myself together that first year.
From my experience, I’ve learned that every loss is different and one loss doesn’t necessarily prepare you for the next. Unlike other life experiences, the more practice you have doesn’t make you any more…
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 reader wonders, “Is it too late to send a condolence note six months after a death?” I’m not aware of a statute of limitations when it comes to condolence notes, but how late is too late? Is it appropriate to send a note six months or even one year after a death?
Your first consideration should be the bereaved. How might they feel when they receive your belated note? Will they be comforted that someone remembers them and their loved one? Will they feel better knowing…
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
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
When you’ve lost a loved one, the world as you knew it has changed forever. You lose your bearings, relationships change, and routines shift. Nothing feels right and the unfamiliarity is an uncomfortable reminder that life won’t ever be the same.
Most of us cherish the regularity of our lives and it’s our daily routines that give structure to our days. One of the most helpful things you can do for someone grieving a loss is to help them re-establish routines.
1. Offer to…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on August 19, 2009 at 2:30pm — No Comments
Why do people avoid saying the name of the deceased? A friend facing the anniversary of her husband’s death was hurt that friends no longer said her husband’s name. She finally asked them why and they told her they were afraid his name would make her sad. She’s already sad that her husband died and she thinks about him all the time; she told her friends she likes to talk about him, too.
That reminded me of a story another friend shared. It was the anniversary of the death of her…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on July 6, 2009 at 10:00am — No Comments
Do you have time to write a note today? I met someone who told me that once a week she sits at her desk and asks herself, “Who could use a note this week?” And then she writes one to someone who could use a dose of kindness.
In the frenzy to stay on top of things most of us find it difficult to find the time to write a note, no less figure out who could use some cheering up. But think how many spirits we’d lift if we all took the time this week to write one note to one person to let…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on May 15, 2009 at 6:30am — 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