Friday, August 28, 2015

What Not to Say in Time of Loss -- And What to Say Instead

In the new film "A Walk in the Woods," the character played by Robert Redford attends a funeral and, at a loss for words, he stumbles and tells the widow standing by her husband's casket that "It's a pleasure." His wife scurries him along. We've all been there. What do you say when words feel so inadequate? Journeys Through Grief has a good list of platitudes to avoid ("It was God's will," "I know how you feel," "It's time to move on"). Instead, say: "Can I bring over dinner on Thursday?" "Is there anything I can get you from the store?" "Can I watch the children/grandchildren while you take a nap?" "I will miss him." "She taught me so much." And most important, just sit quietly with the mourners and let them speak or not speak.

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