Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thinking about grief

As many of you know my Aunt Karen passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in February.  She had just turned 69 years old. I was talking to my Uncle Terry on the phone about a variety of different topics when the conversation turned to what you should say, and also not say, to somebody that has lost a loved one.  I told him that I never, ever say "God has a plan" or "They are in a better place" because, frankly, I think those are bullshit and rather cruel things to say to somebody that is grieving.  

December 2007
 My uncle (who has a PhD, is a retired university professor, and a published author) has written a short one page "essay" on the topic and I told him I would put it on the blog for feedback.  

Easter 2013
Please, dear readers, leave a comment, email me (, text me, call me, Facebook me, write me a letter or come over for a glass of wine and tell me what you think.  Let's start a dialogue.  Let's figure out something better to say.    

January 1, 2017
Here it is:

Thank you for your card of condolence and your donation to the "Last Name" (Redacted for privacy) Family Scholarship at Salpointe Catholic High School. Over $4000 was donated in Karen’s name.

In the last three months, some friends asked me to record my memories, thoughts and griefs. They said it might help other people. I said I did not want to do that because I am such a weird duck that nothing I thought could possibly help other people and besides that, I did not want to do it. Well I finally gave in. But it can’t be solitary: I want to include you. Sometimes in a sudden, sad, stabbing moment of sorrow, I recall the support that you have given me. I know that you are there. Here is my attempt to help people to know what to say when a friend has lost a loved one.

In the last three months, a hundred people have asked me, “How are you doing?’

It is always the exact same phrase, as if it were engraved in stone somewhere.

I’ve always answered, “I’m fine.”

Then they say, “If there is anything that I can do please ask.”

There must be a better question that can be asked. How about, “How are you doing today?” Maybe a better response would be” I’m slowly getting better, but today is a downer.” Or maybe, “Today is great; I got a call from the kids.”

So, help me gather ideas.

What do you think would be a better question, rather than “How are you doing?’
What do you think would be a better response, rather than “I’m fine.”’



So, once again: 
Email (
Text (not willing to give my number on the internet so you must know me in real life)
Call (see above)
Come over 

1 comment:

Cat said...

That's a hard one, I've been pondering, but maybe "What can I do to help you today/this week/insert time frame?" instead of let me know if there's anything I can do to help. Or what about asking to take that person out for coffee/lunch/whatever. I have no idea if those are any help at all, but just thinking...I never know what to say and usually say something like I'm sorry for your loss, let me know if you need anything.