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Our Deepest Sympathies – How to Comfort the Grieving

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Tragedy is an unfortunate reality of life, one that we are all faced with at one time or another. Everyone deals with death differently and in their own time, and it can be difficult to know how to approach or respond to someone in mourning in a respectful and compassionate way. Although your actions cannot fill the void created by the death with which someone is dealing, there are some ways to be a supportive and helpful friend in a time of need.


Send condolences

Often times when someone dies, people avoid the surviving partner/family/close friends as they are not sure what to say. They feel awkward and unsure, and feel they should give those in mourning some space, but instead leave them feeling isolated and alone. Instead of avoidance, make it known that you are there to support, so those grieving feel cared for but not pressured to do anything they aren’t yet comfortable doing. You can do this in a number of ways, including



Regardless of the method you choose, it’s important to show you care without saying something insensitive.


Ideas of what to say to some in mourning:
:

  • How can I help?
  • I’m thinking of you.
  • I can’t imagine how you must be feeling, but know that I am here for you.
  • We love you.
  • My deepest sympathies.
  • I was saddened to hear of the loss of XXX.
  • We are here if you need anything.

Things to avoid saying:

  • I know how you must feel.
  • I would be devastated if this happened to me.
  • You’ll get over it.
  • There are so many people worse off than you.
  • How long until you get back to normal?

Image courtesy of https://pixabay.com



Other ways to help

Once you have made the initial contact, there are a number of ways to help in the immediate days following a death, and in the months after as the family/friends adjust back into normal life. Grieving can be a long and difficult process, so be patient, kind and compassionate. Some ways to help include:


  • Offering to help with the funeral arrangements.
  • Cooking some freezer friendly food for the family.
  • Taking any children impacted to school or to their usual activities, so their parents can have time to grieve whilst the kids continue with their routine.
  • Offering financial assistance if appropriate.
  • Arranging the catering and roses UK for the wake.
  • Contacting people to notify them of the funeral details.
  • Organising for a cleaner to tidy up the house of the impacted family for a period of time, to enable them to focus on their wellbeing.

When you can’t find the words

If you’re unsure of what to say or feel your words aren’t expressing how you feel, take inspiration from some poignant, heartfelt and beautiful poems. Our favourites are:


Requiescat
By Oscar Wilde
Tread lightly, she is near
Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
The daisies grow.
All her bright golden hair
Tarnished with rust,
She that was young and fair
Fallen to dust.
Lily-like, white as snow,
She hardly knew
She was a woman, so
Sweetly she grew.
Coffin-board, heavy stone,
Lie on her breast,
I vex my heart alone,
She is at rest.
Peace, Peace, she cannot hear
Lyre or sonnet,
All my life's buried here,
Heap earth upon it.

Roses delivery courtesy of https://www.rosesonly.co.uk


Only as the Day is Long
By Dorianne Laux
Soon she will be no more than a passing thought,
a pang, a timpani of wind in the chimes, bent spoons
hung from the eaves on a first night in a new house
on a street where no dog sings, no cat visits
a neighbor cat in the middle of the street, winding
and rubbing fur against fur, throwing sparks.
Her atoms are out there, circling the earth, minus
her happiness, minus her grief, only her body’s
water atoms, her hair and bone and teeth atoms,
her fleshy atoms, her boozy atoms, her saltines
and cheese and tea, but not her piano concerto
atoms, her atoms of laughter and cruelty, her atoms
of lies and lilies along the driveway and her slippers,
Lord her slippers, where are they now?

Image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com


Consummation of Grief
By Charles Bukowski

I even hear the mountains
the way they laugh
up and down their blue sides
and down in the water
the fish cry
and the water
is their tears.
I listen to the water
on nights I drink away
and the sadness becomes so great
I hear it in my clock
it becomes knobs upon my dresser
it becomes paper on the floor
it becomes a shoehorn
a laundry ticket
it becomes
cigarette smoke
climbing a chapel of dark vines. . .
it matters little
very little love is not so bad
or very little life
what counts
is waiting on walls
I was born for this
I was born to hustle roses down the avenues of the dead.

 

Beautiful roses London courtesy of https://www.rosesonly.co.uk


Bereavement
By Kevin Young

Behind his house, my father's dogs  sleep in kennels, beautiful, he built just for them. They do not bark. Do they know he is dead? They wag their tails & head. They beg & are fed. Their grief is colossal & forgetful. Each day they wake seeking his voice, their names.

By dusk they seem to unremember everything — to them even hunger is a game. For that, I envy. For that, I cannot bear to watch them pacing their cage. I try to remember they love best confined space to feel safe.
Each day a saint comes by to feed the pair & I draw closer the shades. I've begun to think of them
as my father's own sons, as kin. Brothers-in-paw.
My eyes each day thaw. One day the water cuts off. Then back on. They are outside dogs — which is to say, healthy & victorious, purposeful & one giant muscle like the heart.
Dad taught them not to bark, to point out their prey. To stay. Were they there that day? They call me like witnesses & will not say.
I ask for their care & their carelessness — wish of them forgiveness. I must give them away. I must find for them homes, sleep restless in his. All night long I expect they pace as I do, each dog like an eye roaming with the dead beneath an unlocked lid.

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