In my last blog I talked about things you should NOT say, so what do you say to someone who is going through loss?
My advice of 8 THINGS TO SAY WHEN SOMEONE DIES would be:
1. Tell them an experience where their loved one who has passed did something meaningful. Consider writing it down and giving it to them, so they can remember it.
2. Ask questions about their loved one if you feel that’s right. Most people like to talk about them. Maybe ask something like, “What is one of your favorite memories?”
3. Tell them you think about them a lot. People would tell me they are praying for me and I liked that and could feel it. It lifted me.
4. Ask how you can help, then do it. Have an idea in mind such as “Can I drop off a frozen dinner to you tomorrow?” “Can your kids come to my house one day after school this week?” Many people just dropped things off on the porch with a note and I really appreciated that. Once a neighbor rang my doorbell and asked if I had checked my furnace filters. “What? I have furnace filters?” He checked for me, wrote down the size (I guess they didn’t pass) and later brought me new ones and put them in. Things like this were so appreciated.
5. My widow friend said, “The best thing ever said was ‘This just sucks’.”
6. Ask them if you can keep in contact with them and if so, what is the best way- email, text, phone calls? One sweet friend I had gave me her cell phone number and said, “I don’t care what time of day or night it is, please call me if you ever need anything.” And she meant it. I didn’t know her super well, but enough so one night when I had nobody to get me through a very bad day I called her after midnight and woke her. She may have regretted giving me her number that very minute, but she talked me through one of my most painful days and I will always be grateful for her.
7. A widower suggested, “If people have NEVER walked in our shoes, they do not understand what we do not want to hear. It would be better if they walked over and just took our hands and looked into our eyes and did not say anything at all.” –just be there for them.
8. Many people told me they were sorry. Just plain sorry. They said they had no idea what I was going through and thought of me often. This helped me to know people were aware of me and my feelings and were supporting me.
I took comments positively, and tried to accept all forms of comfort and knew that people cared and were doing the best they could to show me love, even if the words came out wrong. It really is an awkward situation, so do your best to show you care and that will go a long ways.