(Excerpt from book due to be published in late 2016)
Here are some suggested “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for speaking to, and being around, the bereaved family. Don’t be overwhelmed by the length of the list and don’t let what you read paralyze you to the point of being speechless. My goal is arm you with a bit of knowledge so you feel more comfortable.
Hopefully you will accept that
- words can’t comfort the bereaved, but your presence can;
- the less said, the better; and
- saying something wrong is better than saying nothing at all.
List of comments that will be appreciated.
- “I am so sorry for your loss.” (This can precede and follow most of the following.)
- “I wish I had the right words, but I don’t. Just know that I care.”
- “I don’t know what to say. I wish I had the right words to comfort you.”
- “You and your loved ones (family) are in my thoughts and prayers.
- “Your (parent, sibling, child) was always so nice to me. One of my favorite memories is …”
- “She/he will be missed by so many people.”
- “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.”
- “I can’t imagine how tough this must be for you.”
- “We all need help at times. I will call next week to find out how I can help you.”
- “You can count on me in the coming months.”
- “I’m your friend—and I’m here for you.”
Follow any of the above with “I care about you.” You matter to me,” or “I love you” when it is appropriate.