An acquaintance had an aggressive form of cancer. I was kept in the loop via text messages and Facebook and so it seemed natural to learn of her death through a text. A friend of the bereaved sent a mass text, not one but a series, with funeral notifications, meal requests, and donation preferences. Friends of the bereaved began writing condolence messages on her Facebook wall.
My first thought upon hearing of the death was to send a condolence note; but I changed my mind when I saw…Continue
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on May 23, 2013 at 12:21pm — No Comments
Many of us will spend Mother’s Day remembering mom. How you remember her depends on your perspective and how you shape your memories. Do you feel your glass is half empty or half full? While there are facets of our lives for which we lack control, we do have the ability to choose how we view our past and it’s up to us whether we make peace with it.
My glass is half full and so are my memories. I find the older I get, the more I focus on the positive. I not only…Continue
Technology has changed the way we communicate. It’s now more common to keep in touch by text than e-mail, while phone calls and handwritten notes seem outmoded or obsolete. But when it comes to a death, are these newer forms of communication appropriate, or should we rely on the old fashioned forms of communication? Here are some thoughts:
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on April 22, 2013 at 12:30pm — No Comments
About 10 to 15 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Some suggest it is even higher as some miscarriages occur before the mom even knows she’s pregnant. Despite this high frequency, bereaved parents share that far too many friends and loved ones fail to say appropriate things and some, not knowing what to say or worse, minimizing the loss, just stay away. But it’s important to remember that a miscarriage is…Continue
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on April 10, 2013 at 10:00am — No Comments
Last week my friend supported a dear friend whose father died. The dad had Alzheimer’s disease and had been failing for some time. But his condition had quickly worsened and he died unexpectedly.
My friend attended the funeral and funeral reception and since the family is Jewish, she helped organize and attended the Shiva. She was quite surprised by some of the behavior and questions that hurt both her…Continue
When I worked in education our office had a “Sunshine Committee.” All the money collected from coffee sales went into a sunshine fund. Any staff member sick, hospitalized, in treatment, or bereaved received a floral arrangement from the Sunshine Committee and the committee members sent cards too. The thoughtfulness from the Sunshine Committee permeated…Continue
When my children were young we visited my mom on Valentine’s Day. My mom lived in a retirement community and I knew many of her neighbors probably wouldn’t be celebrating Valentine’s Day so I thought we’d do something thoughtful. I had my daughters help bake and decorate valentine cookies and we packed them with ribbons. While visiting my mom, the girls walked…Continue
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on February 13, 2013 at 9:30am — No Comments
A message with the subject line “sad news” was in my email inbox this morning. I get these messages from my congregation all the time and it’s helpful to know that a member has experienced a loss so I can express condolences when I see them. But I’m always perplexed when friends, colleagues, and even family…Continue
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on February 1, 2013 at 11:00am — No Comments
Not much has changed in the ten years that I have been writing about grief and loss. There’s still a sense of discomfort in dealing with the bereaved. Friends and loved ones continue to seek the perfect words that will comfort the bereaved. They’ve yet to learn that no one thing that they say or do will make the pain go away.
So what have I learned that may help you…Continue
The New Year inspires us to begin anew; to assess how we can start the year in a positive state that will hopefully set the tone for the months ahead. In this frame of mind, I began the morning by dumping my in-box on my desk and sorting through all the items that were not priorities in the busy weeks and months that ended the year.
Buried in the heap was a holiday…Continue
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on January 3, 2013 at 9:00am — No Comments
It is easy to feel helpless with the tragic and senseless loss of lives in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Whether it is a very public or personal loss, what can we do individually or collectively to honor the memory of lives lost?
A colleague donated books on horses to the local library when a friend’s young daughter died of cancer. She had loved horses and this was the way he chose to honor her memory.
When my 20-year old…Continue
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on December 20, 2012 at 12:30pm — No Comments
We feel the painful loss of a loved one as we move through our daily routines. The holidays can make the pain even sharper as holidays are often laced with special traditions. Maybe your spouse hung the Christmas lights or your mom baked a special cake. It could be you used your parent’s Menorah or played a…Continue
We all know that death is a part of life. And yet when we learn that someone we care about is going to die, we are deeply shocked. When a friend, loved one, colleague, or neighbor is diagnosed with a terminal illness, the news is devastating. It’s possible there are treatments to prolong life or maybe there is nothing else the medical professionals can do. So how do you deal…Continue
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on November 12, 2012 at 2:30pm — No Comments
My friend is going through a rough time. She doesn’t like email so I call her every week. She isn’t always up for a chat so when my call goes to voicemail, I leave a message that says, “Hi; I’m just checking in to say hello.” Yesterday, she answered the phone and we got caught up. As we were saying our goodbyes, she…Continue
My first instinct when I hear that someone is sick or bereaved is to head to the kitchen. I can’t think of anything more comforting than a homemade pot of soup or a home cooked meal. I thought everyone must appreciate being thought of in this caring way until I spoke with a neighbor. Her husband had cancer and during the period of his surgery, treatment, and recovery, she just wanted to be left alone. She didn’t want a phone call, company, or a meal. She preferred to handle things…Continue
While it can be hard to know what to say to friends and loved ones facing difficult times, it can be even tougher when it happens at work. It’s one thing to support a friend dealing with a difficult loss but harder to know what to say and do with relationships that lack intimacy. Here are some real-life situations with helpful strategies.
Despite working with someone day to day, collegial relationships are more like acquaintances. So how can you support a bereaved…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on October 10, 2012 at 8:00am — No Comments
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
In the weeks and months that follow a death, when real grieving takes place, many bereaved report that they feel all alone. The calls and visits have stopped and the friends that gathered around them in the days following the death are nowhere in sight. It’s very common for the bereaved to feel as if their friends have abandoned them when they need them most.
So what can you do if you have lost a loved one and feel utterly disappointed in your friends?
It’s bound to happen. After the death of a loved one, life goes on. Life cycle events and milestones continue to happen; children graduate, go to college, marry, have children, and continue to grow. Life doesn’t stop with the death of a loved one.
So, how do we handle those sweet and happy moments, knowing quite well that someone is missing?
Some families have rituals. I know our family did. When my father died, he left four children, ages eleven to twenty. He…
Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on August 22, 2012 at 8:00am — No Comments
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