January 2019 – Guest post by Charlotte Fox – The death of a loved one is a life-altering experience. Unless you’ve ‘been there and done that’ yourself, it is impossible to comprehend what it feels like. We want to hear words like…I’m so sorry for your loss, or…I know this is a difficult time for you, or…I’m here for you (and mean it). We want to hear those cute and funny stories from their childhood and workplaces. These are things that we as survivors want to hear…it’s music to us. It’s comforting to hear these things coming from those who love and miss them too.
On the other hand, there are those who, although hopefully meaning well, just say the wrong things. The following is a list of what never to say or ask one who has just lost their spouse, life partner or loved one.
- He or she is in a better place.
- I understand.
- Don’t feel bad.
- Don’t cry.
- It’s a blessing.
- God wanted him or her.
- It was his or her time.
- He or she is not suffering any more.
- You’re young and pretty…you’ll meet someone else.
- At least you have your children.
- Oh…you’ll have another child.
- Are you going to sell your house? Worse yet…Do you have to sell your house?
- Now you can have things the way you want them.
- Are you feeling sorry for yourself?
- Last, but equally as important, do not ever tell the survivor to “Get Over It.”
Put yourself in the shoes of the survivor. Have you truly experienced this pain, this loss, to say you understand? Being there, being comforting, and listening to them is a gift.
And please…Don’t ask specific details of the death. When the bereaved survivor is ready to say anything about the death, they will tell you. Please realize this is a very painful time in their life. It’s traumatizing.
Your local hospice can give you handouts on ways to express your sympathy. Your library and bookstores will have books on the subject too. Kindnesses are rewarding.
What Not to Say is part of And Then There Was One by Charlotte Fox, a comprehensive workbook guide for end-of-life preparedness and transitioning after the loss of a loved one. To learn more visit therewasone.com.