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How to Go Beyond “I’m Sorry for Your Loss”

June 19, 2012

Someone you care about has just something bad happen.  To borrow a favorite book title of mine from first grade, “What do you say now?”

“I’m sorry for your loss” isn’t a bad start.  There’s a reason so many people use it so often.

But you and I can sometimes do more.

For example,

1. LISTEN.  Pay attention.  Both to what the person says and what their silences say.

2. ADDRESS.  Don’t avoid the realities of the situation.  If s/he is talking, try to understand and help name what’s being said.  Asking questions of clarification can be helpful.

3. LISTEN SOME MORE.  Let’s not talk to hear the wonders of our own wisdom.  Let’s not babble to cover our awkwardness at silence.  That quiet moment might be exactly what the other person needs.

4. LET GOD BE GOD.  You and I don’t have all the answers.    We can turn to the Old and New Testaments for God’s words, but never do we want to put someone else’s words in God’s mouth.  We pray to our Lord, often together, and that’s a very good thing.

I’ve found these simple practices to be helpful, both when I’m the one in crisis and when I’m with someone in the midst of loss and grief.  What have you found beneficial?  I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave a comment here.  And I’ll see you back here soon.

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  1. Joe. . . I love this. It’s helpful not just in situations of loss but in all situations. No. 3 hits right at home for me especially. Thank you.


    • Glad you’re reading these, Jayne!

      Great hearing from you, and really appreciate knowing you’re finding this “helpful.” Means a lot.


  2. KayO permalink

    I’ve done well with asking questions like “How did you meet?” or anything to get a conversation started about the life of the deceased. I’ve learned that people like to talk about their memories so I try to make it possible instead of awkward. And then … listen. Great advice.


  3. Nanette permalink

    I have a lengthy, albeit I hope helpful, response. I need to formulate and use two hands. My cat, struggling with physical problems and calmer in my lap, is not only in my lap, she chose my right hand (stroking her) to fall asleep upon. More later, still reading, still in June.


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