A friend of mine recently lost her husband of almost fifty years. Their deep love for one another is apparent on her face each time she speaks of him. Her eyes light up and her voice softens with love and remembrance. She feels blessed to have shared a lifetime with a partner who seemed hand-chosen for her by God.
But she doesn’t dwell on the sadness of his passing. She realizes that although her time with her husband is now over, his memories will linger forever in her heart. Because of that knowledge she greets each day with a warm smile and eyes bright with a sense of anticipation for what the day will bring.
It’s only when well-meaning acquaintances and strangers, as well as family and friends with good intentions, attempt to offer condolences and comfort. It’s then that her smile sometimes becomes chilly and her eyes begin to darken. And it’s not that she doesn’t welcome their attempts, it’s more what they’ve chosen to say. Although these persons believe their words and actions are meant to be comforting, to a widow or widower some of their words can come across as rude or insensitive.
Here is a list of do’s and don’ts that may be helpful to anyone struggling to comfort a recent widow or widower:
He was sick anyway….simply because their partner was ill, does not make the wife/husband want or expect the person’s passing to be any easier or filled with less love.
You’re young and attractive or I have someone you might like to meet….these kinds of comments are the epitome of insensitivity. A recent widow/widower isn’t likely to be on the prowl for other prospects. They’re more likely to be focused on getting through each day. To suggest otherwise belittles the relationship that the widow/widower had with his/her partner.
Are you going to move….to leave the home that is filled with love and memories of a shared life with the person they’ve loved for most of their lives would be like adding more heartache and grief onto an already overflowing well.
Everything happens for a reason….to the one left behind, there is no reason good enough to lose someone you love.
You look tired….of course, he/she looks tired. The nights are long and lonely after losing the person who shared your life.
I can imagine what you’re going through….unless you’ve lost a partner; you really don’t know what they’re going through.
At least he/she isn’t suffering anymore….it’s insensitive to judge another person’s quality of life whether they’re ill or not.
It was his/her time….the only answer to that is, “Who set the clock?”
I’m sorry for your loss.
Positive, concrete memories of the couple if you knew them well.
I think of you often.
You memories will help you through this difficult time.
And remember that a simple hug works wonders.
After reading the obituary, send a card. That small gesture will mean so much.
Don’t turn away or turn your back on the widow/widower. Your discomfort is only a tenth of theirs.
If you’re a close friend or family member, suggest that the two of you get together. Make a definite time to visit and then show up.
Instead of asking, “Is there anything I can do for you?” Offer something specific, i.e. – yard work, household repairs, winterizing the house, preparing and freezing meals, etc. If he/she is alone, then they need your help.
Send a note or call simply saying, “Hi, I’m thinking of you.”
Be supportive, helpful and encouraging. These are what will truly help your friend get through their grief.
About the AuthorFor more visit Deb’s website at debracolbyconklin.wordpress.com.
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