Years ago I had the opportunity to read condolence notes sent to a friend upon the death of her teenage daughter. There were hundreds of sympathy cards and handwritten notes, many of them thoughtfully and beautifully written. But to this day, there was one that still disturbs me.
The sender, an old friend, expressed her condolences. But she went on to mention that she was sitting in her home office working on her expense reports. Her next door neighbor was having…Continue
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on July 2, 2012 at 7:30am — 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
Grief is a very painful and personal experience. When I recently asked bereaved adults to share their thoughts on what helped and what hurt following the death of their loved ones, I got different viewpoints. It’s apparent that we each grieve in our own way and in our own time. And yet there were a number of things that most of the bereaved agreed on; certain questions upset them and there are other questions they wish you’d ask.
So what question did the bereaved find most…Continue
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on August 15, 2011 at 9:00am — No Comments
Someone, at some point, will say something inappropriate and potentially hurtful when you’re dealing with illness or death. There’s no getting around it; it happens. Maybe we should just face the reality that it’s part of the process.
I’ve learned through my own experience that most people truly do not mean to hurt us; they just don’t know what to say and through either their discomfort or lack of experience with loss, they say something totally…Continue
It happens. Seeking solace, you call a trusted friend or loved one and share some sadness; a family member’s diagnosis or a colleague’s death. But instead of consolation, you’re told a story of greater loss, even more disturbing than the one you’ve shared. You’d hoped for comfort but the conversation leaves you frustrated and feeling…Continue
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
Suicide was back in the news this week after the tragic death of Marie Osmond’s eighteen-year old son. “Suicide survivors,” the bereaved whose loved one died by suicide, are often left to deal with guilt (could I have stopped it?); rejection (how could they choose death over me?); stigmatism by friends, loved ones, and society (their loved one chose death over life).
So what can you do when a friend or loved one experiences a death by suicide? You can provide nonjudgmental support…
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…
You would think that medical professionals, of all people, would be sensitive when dealing with loss. And while I know that many aren’t comfortable with the topic, I’m still astonished at some of the callous and insensitive things that have been said to patients.
A reader recently shared that her husband took his life. When she told her doctor, he asked, “How did he do it?” When she told him he used helium gas, the doctor said, “Well at least he didn't leave you a mess to…
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
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