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The heart of the wise inclines to the right...
02:06 PM on 12/03/2012
Saying something simple is best (e.g., "Sorry for your loss"...hug); depends on how close I was to the person. Meals help with some folks. Asking if and how you can help is good too; then respect the answer!

I’d never tell someone who is grieving that "God is trying to teach [them] something" and I’m an Evangelical bible-thumper type.

God loves us perfectly. He does not cause suffering. However, because he loves us, he gave us free will; we can love him back and accept his son and Lord and Savior or reject him. We also experience God's permissive will (i.e., God allows it) each day. Life happens and decisions we make have consequences, good and horrific. Our broken bodies get sick. We get old, in accidents, lose jobs, divorce, etc. People are abused and victimized; people commit murders, rape, steal, etc. This is a reflection of sin and our fallen natures. WE own it. Scripture is clear that God uses and works through…ALL…things, not just “good” things, to his ends…including death.

The author is confused; that “crazy” God suffered FOR us!
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
02:00 PM on 12/03/2012
After my parents died I had a sale to prepare their house for selling it. I was in shock, I think, and a neighbor woman whom I'd never seen, said to me, "I know what you're going through." This was one of the most helpful things I'd heard during the whole time.

At my job, a new woman, whom I barely knew and had never really talked with, came into my office, sat down and just talked to me about it. I don't remember what she said but her quality of attention and caring was tremendously helpful.

Another woman, again someone I didn't know...was very helpful. This was a nurse, a nun, in the Catholic hospital where my father was dying, just came in and put her hand on my shoulder while I sat by him. She didn't say a word, we weren't Catholic....but the gesture spoke volumes. .

When I was a child and my sister died, I was told that she was now an angel in Heaven who would watch over me. This may not be appropriate for adults, but it was very comforting to me.

Once a friend's mother died suddenly. Several of us went over to her house just to be there. One friend did not go because she said that she didn't know what to say. Later, when her mother died, she regretted not having gone as she realized that what you say isn't as important as just showing up.
06:42 PM on 12/03/2012
Thanks for sharing those experiences. My brothers, sisters-in-law and I sat with our mom for eight weeks during her final illness and death. We tried to make sure someone was with her at all times, in part because that's what she expected.

We were all there holding her hands or touching her when she died in the nursing home. We'd had such wonderful, attentive care from the nursing home personnel. When she died, one brother and his wife left right afterward, the other brother and his wife left when the funeral home got there to pick up the body, and I stayed and waited while the mortician put her in the body bag and onto the gurney.

I followed the gurney out to the hearse. But as we walked down the hall of the nursing home, the staff gathered in two lines on either side of the door and sang "Amazing Grace," as we progressed to the door. I was able to hug and thank each of them as we went, even though I'd already tried to thank them previously.

That was such a touching moment for me that at the funeral, we asked the congregation to stand and sing "Amazing Grace" as our mom's coffiin was wheeled down the aisle before being taken to the cemetary. That's still a wonderful memory for me.
11:02 PM on 12/03/2012
Wow...what a lovely memory! Thank you for sharing that with us.
01:57 PM on 12/03/2012
Thank you to the author for sharing.
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I don't do social networks
01:50 PM on 12/03/2012
I tell religious people that their loved one is in a better place now.
I tell non-religious people that the suffering is over... when it is appropriate.
I am a person of faith, not certainty.
01:39 PM on 12/03/2012
Other (usually well meaning) people are often the biggest hindrance to the healing process. This is quite ironic, in that these same people have experienced loss, yet tend to forget about their own experience(s) ... or they never allowed themselves to face their true feelings.

I have to say that other than receiving way too much food, everyone was very supportive, and my family surrounded by love, when my mom (Normal Taylor) passed away suddenly in 2007. And yes, her name was in fact Normal. It was indeed a challenge to find an 'new' normal, after losing Normal.
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02:36 PM on 12/03/2012
What a fantastic first name!
I am a person of faith, not certainty.
02:01 PM on 12/05/2012
Thank you, Garioch!
Holly Wilson
01:38 PM on 12/03/2012
International grief expert? Are you guys hiring?
01:28 PM on 12/03/2012
Thank you so much for writing this. I think the simply being present advice is wonderful. Like your daughters, after my Dad's death, I felt my own grief was ignored. It was as if as a child, I couldn't possibly feel grief. Thirty years later, I still hear from relatives, "You have no idea how hard it was on your mother." I felt discounted then and it still makes me feel discounted. I want to yell, "I do know how it affected her because I was there! Now, ask me how it affected me."
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10:05 PM on 12/03/2012
That is exactly what to say the next time - I'm certain you'll feel better for it...
When politics, passion, and piety collide.....
01:21 PM on 12/03/2012
Burying a child confounds the natural order of life and death. I offer my deepest sympathy to Ms. Horsley. What is helpful to say to a grieving person depends a lot on the person's spiritual beliefs or lack thereof and the type of loss the person suffered. At some time in our lives we all suffer loss by death. Perhaps if we were not so terrified of death we could be freer to discuss it and its effects on us, and offer support to the grieving with more confidence.
01:17 PM on 12/03/2012
Thank you Gloria from one bereaved mother to another. I've thought a lot about this since my 21-year-old son died. The only thing I would add is that not everyone is capable of showing up (it's either too difficult or they are unable to focus on the bereaved person). More than once I found myself having to comfort them! So in those cases a card is probably best. And if you have a story about the deceased, please share it. It's such a nice way to keep the memories going. .

By and large I think people want to help, but death is such a taboo subject in our society that people don't know how to be there for others. Articles like yours can be very helpful. Thank you.
05:15 PM on 12/03/2012
"More than once I found myself having to comfort them!" You hit on an important point here. Who's comforting whom? Too often it's the one who's suffered the loss who's required to reassure everyone that, "Yes, that helped. I'm much better now, thanks to you."
06:47 PM on 12/03/2012
Good advice, Robin. My husband was a high school teacher. One of his students drowned in a tragic accident. I sent a card to the family sharing the amusing or positive stories my husband told me about their son when he learned of the death. I was very surprised to get a note back from his mother, thanking me SO MUCH for sharing those stories with them and just for being willing to TALK about their son, because what they needed to do was talk about him, and no one else wanted to talk about him.
01:11 PM on 12/03/2012
I really hate to write this on an article of this gravity, but why does HuffPost publish articles without editing them? I found the content of the article very interesting, but I was thoroughly distracted the number of grammatical and punctuation mistakes.
I actually flinched at a few, especially "Your young you can marry again" and "I use to send a card and now I send myself."
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01:36 PM on 12/03/2012
Thank you, but I'm worse! How can this woman say "what not to say" to people without clarifying whether or not some of the comments come from other grieving people? Who ever says the "right" thing in response to another's grief?It NEVER computes, for a little while at least. The fact that anyone tries is a declaration of that person thinking good wishes for a grieving friend. It's not necessarily "proper," but who is, in the face of overwhelming sorrow?
01:56 PM on 12/03/2012
*but I was thoroughly distracted by*
That awkward moment when you make a grammatical error when critiquing grammar mistakes.
Then again, I didn't have a copy editor going over my post...