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Sympathies During Bereavement

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(One of today’s posts on Lifehack.org got me thinking about offering sympathy to those who have lost someone to death. I was going to leave a comment, but it turned into an article, so I decided to post it here. I’d track back to Lifehack.org but they seem to have neglected the trackback URL.)

Many years ago, a nurse on the psych unit of the hospital where I work seemed to be in some mental pain. I asked her what was going on, and she told me that a patient had kicked her in the belly, causing her to miscarry. I knew she wanted a child and I knew how difficult it was for her to get pregnant. My heart went out to her and I said, “I’m so sorry for your loss”. She started to cry and hugged me, saying I was the only one who had acknowledged she was hurting. Everyone else kept trying to tell her to stop feeling bad about it.

My advice to those in front of a grieving person: never try to cheer them up. “It could be worse!”, “You’re still young, you can have another child/find another husband”, “They’re in a better place”, or some variation on how God did it for a reason are all total garbage at best and a slap in the face at worst. Consider this: if you were to lose to death someone you loved, is there anything that anyone could say that would make your pain go away? I doubt it. So don’t even try.

And for those who are angry at God for their loss, I offer them a simple idea: any deity worth worship and devotion is probably hurting over this as badly as you are.

(If you haven’t read Rabbi Harold Kushner’s book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”, I strongly recommend it.)

Read at Lifehack.org: How to Offer your Sympathies Following a Bereavement

Written by Michael DeBusk

December 12th, 2007 at 1:59 pm

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