Robbie Miller Kaplan's Blog (144)

Don't Avoid Calling the Bereaved

It happens every time I call the bereaved; they sound dreadful when they answer the phone. When they hear my voice and realize I’m calling to say hello, their tone miraculously changes and their gratitude seems to seep through the phone line.

The fact is, our phones rarely ring…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on July 23, 2014 at 10:00am — No Comments

Begin With a Sympathy Note

Sympathy notes are not easy to write; it’s difficult to know what you can possibly say to comfort someone who is so profoundly sad. And yet we work hard to write them knowing how important it is to acknowledge a loss and comfort the bereaved.

Despite our efforts to send condolences, it might be a shock to…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on July 8, 2014 at 2:00pm — No Comments

Trends in Mourning Rituals

There was a time when mourning rituals were steeped in etiquette. You knew exactly what to expect and how to demonstrate good manners. But all of that has changed with social media, emails, texts, and ever-evolving…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on June 23, 2014 at 10:30am — 1 Comment

How to Help a Bereaved Child

Death is a devastating experience, and it is hard to know what words or actions can possibly ease the loss. When the bereaved is a child, it is even more challenging to know what to say or do. As difficult as it may be, “Try to act like things are as normal as…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on June 6, 2014 at 12:00pm — No Comments

What You Should Never Say to the Bereaved

While chatting with a friend I mentioned that my good friend had died this winter. She asked, “Is that your friend who was terminally ill?” When I answered yes, she said, “Well you knew she was going to die.” Speechless, I thought, what an insensitive thing to say to someone…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on May 12, 2014 at 11:30am — 1 Comment

Missing Mom on Mother’s Day

No matter how old you are you are never prepared to lose your mother. Mothers play such a unique role in our lives and they are irreplaceable. When your mother dies, the grief can be overwhelming.

There is so much lost when you no longer have your mom. Who will ever remember your favorite cookie, cake or entrée?…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on May 1, 2014 at 9:30am — No Comments

Should you write an ethical will?

When a friend’s mom died, she was left with a box of their correspondence spanning decades. The letters were vivid reminders of the close relationship they shared, but they weren’t much solace in the sad weeks and months that she painfully mourned. My friend was lost; she confided that she wished her mother had left something behind that told her how to live her life without her.…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on April 21, 2014 at 7:30am — No Comments

Sympathy Notes That Never Grow Old

It was time to clean my desk, so I emptied all the cubbyholes and dumped everything on the table. I sorted through old baby announcements, wedding invitations, endearing birthday cards and sweet thank you notes. I started a pile to keep and a stack to shred and then, to my surprise, I found two condolence messages tucked into eulogies from my mother’s…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on April 10, 2014 at 1:34pm — No Comments

Living with Loss

My mom was widowed twice by the age of 46, and she gave me some sage advice; “Life is a series of changes and you must learn to adapt to change.” At this time in my life my perspective is a bit different; I see life as a series of losses, and it’s essential that you learn to cope with those…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on March 24, 2014 at 12:00pm — 1 Comment

The Jewish Mourning Ritual of Sitting Shiva

Members of the Jewish faith observe Shiva, a seven-day mourning period following the funeral of a family member. The word Shiva literally comes from the Hebrew word for seven. While sitting Shiva, family members do not work and typically stay home.

 

How will you know if the family is sitting Shiva? There is usually an announcement…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on March 13, 2014 at 3:00pm — No Comments

Searching for meaning in times of loss

My mother always said, “Something good comes out of everything.” She admitted that it might be hard to see the good in the midst of a devastating experience, but she assured me that there is a silver lining somewhere. She gave my father’s death as an example. She always claimed that despite the debilitating loss,…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on February 25, 2014 at 3:11pm — 2 Comments

To the newly bereaved

A dear friend recently lost his father. His dad had a debilitating illness that lasted a decade. When a parent declines, and often the roles reverse, you grieve over time for the parent you have lost. You may assume that you have already mourned your loss, so it can be incredibly shocking…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on February 3, 2014 at 8:00am — No Comments

When bad things happen

It happens to all of us; someone we know gets a scary diagnosis, has an accident or their cancer returns. What can we say and do when a friend, loved one, colleague or community member gets bad news?…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on January 20, 2014 at 12:30pm — No Comments

Don’t judge the bereaved

A widowed neighbor finds her friends and family drifting away, She’s aware that her conversations focus on her painful loss but she’s missing her husband so much that she’s stuck. It doesn’t help when her loved ones tell her she’s spending too much time wallowing in her grief and it’s time to move on.

 

At work, a young colleague struggles after her second miscarriage. She can’t seem to find her emotional footing and she continues to feel poorly weeks after her…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on January 3, 2014 at 12:00pm — 2 Comments

Must you respond to Facebook losses?

Many of us are “on” Facebook, but we’re not really “on” Facebook. We have some friends and while we post some pictures and status updates, we do it to keep in touch with a select group of friends and loved ones. We don’t have the time or interest to read everyone’s posts, every day or even every month. So what should…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on December 20, 2013 at 2:00pm — No Comments

A Holiday Gift of Memories

My friend had a beautiful old watch that belonged to her dad, and she wanted to get it back in working order. She took it to a repairman, and while examining the watch, he told my friend he could tell a lot about her dad by the way the watch was worn. He mentioned her dad probably liked to fiddle with the dial and showed her the worn-down areas. He then demonstrated how her dad most likely kept his hand in his pocket based on the wear on the watch’s side.…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on November 26, 2013 at 12:00pm — No Comments

Notifying friends and loved ones following a death

When my mother began a phone conversation with “I have some sad news,” I knew what would follow. She would share news that a friend or loved one had died. Not that long ago, it was common to hear about a death in person or by phone. A letter or note was another way to notify us that someone we knew had passed…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on November 12, 2013 at 1:30pm — No Comments

Why write sympathy thank you notes?

When someone dies we are motivated to do something to both remember the deceased and to communicate our support to the bereaved. One of the most natural things to do following a death is to make a donation in memory of the deceased.

A donation, more lasting than a bouquet of flowers or a fruit basket, provides a tangible reminder to the bereaved that their loved one mattered. A contribution in a loved one’s…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on October 21, 2013 at 8:30am — No Comments

Faltering relationships following loss

Loss is hard enough, but it’s even tougher when your relationships don’t hold up. Maybe your friends or loved ones lack the time or energy for your needs or they can’t cope with the sadness or anger that follows loss. Or, they may not know how to help or have too many problems of their own. For…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on October 8, 2013 at 9:30am — No Comments

Saying you’re sorry

Nothing makes you more tongue-tied than learning a friend, loved one, colleague, or neighbor is sick, in treatment, or bereaved. What can you say? And what do you do if you fear you’ve said something inappropriate? That’s what happened to a friend. She was worried she’d said the wrong thing to a sick friend and asked ”What can I do to make this right?” At first glance it doesn’t seem like a difficult question; just apologize. But there’s nothing simple about relationships and…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on September 24, 2013 at 8:30am — No Comments

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