A colleague, Joan Price, recently lost her beloved husband, Robert. Many folks she encountered found it hard to say the right thing and too often she was asked, “How are you doing?" Joan wondered, “What was I supposed to answer? The truth was ‘Horrible, of course!’ but I restrained myself."
I asked Joan to share what she wished folks had said so we could learn how to better communicate with a grieving spouse. Joan reminded me that we each grieve differently and statements that she liked might not work as well with others. But these are her heartfelt suggestions:
1. “Tell me about him.”
With people who didn’t know him or barely knew him, this is a wonderful opening for me to talk about him.
2. “I miss him, too.”
From people who did know him, this is the perfect thing to say.
3. “Here’s what I loved about him” or “Here’s something special he did that I’ll always remember.”
How beautiful to add to my memories of him during this time.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store. Click here to order.
Image via Flickr Creative Commons / It's JoJo