What do I say to someone who has just experienced a death?

Through my very painful experience of losing my son Kory, I gained valuable insight to a difficult problem. What do you say to someone that has just experienced the most difficult of life’s experiences, the death of a loved one. It is a tricky tightrope to walk. We do not want to cause them additional pain, and we also want them to know that we care about them and are feeling loss also. So how do we do that? Is it better to remain silent and say nothing at all? If we decide to talk to the grieving individuals, we wonder if we should mention the deceased person, or pretend that nothing happened. There are many conflicting emotions at such a time as this. After being in the unenviable position I was in at Kory’s death let me share what really meant a lot to me and my family and what helped and what did not.

First of all before Kory died I did not know what to do in such a situation. I had not always been happy with my comments and actions in the face of a tragic event. From experience let me tell you what really helped me. It surprised me how simple that it was. There is one thing that you can say, that is always right. It is more comforting than you realize.

It is as simple as, “I am sorry for your loss.” That is it, nothing profound or heart wrenching. It means a lot to just have someone acknowledge you have lost someone and they care about you and their loved one that has passed. I think it is important to realize that being sincere is important in this situation. All of us feel sadness when someone is faced with this situation. It is the beautiful part of being human and connected.

Yes, we too had some really painful comments. “Well at least you have other sons.” was probably the worst. Or someone that says that they could just kill their kids, or wish they would go away, (of course in frustration). Those comments feel like icy cold water thrown in my face. I do not think that anyone purposely says something that is hurtful. Do not feel that you have to walk on egg shells around grieving individuals. Let them know you care, and offer your support. It is not more complicated than that. Even mention memories of the person that has passed away. I loved hearing about Kory and his antics. I just do not want him forgotten. Because of that it is very difficult to be around anyone who pretends it did not happen or does not mention my son at all.  If you come into my world you will see pictures of him and we talk of him always. He is still very much a part of our family and we love him dearly.

Another phrase that I never liked was, “it will get better.” I would think to myself, “how? I do not want it to get better!” As strange as that sounds, I did not want the pain to ever go away. How could it? Kory died tragically and I would feel that loss everyday of my life until I held him in my arms again. Things go on and time passes but I will never be the same. I am different, but that is okay. I am surviving. Life is beautiful again, but I still dream of the day……..

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