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When you have lost a loved one, was there ANYTHING anyone said that actually helped?


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My friend's dh died suddenly of a heart attack at age 47. I have no words for her. I would like to have something to say when I talk to her. I know she is a Christian, not sure about him.

 

He called and told her he was having chest pain and was driving himself to the hospital. She went to meet him, got there before him. She called him on his cell, he told her he was turning in the ER lot. She saw him turn in the parking lot, slump over the wheel, accelerate across the lot, hit a curb, go airborne into a grassy area and crash into a drainage ditch. She ran to the car, wading knee-deep in the water to get to him, but he was already gone. Her 18 dd saw the whole thing, too. Needless to say, she has been inconsolable.

 

When someone you love has died, has anyone ever said anything that was a comfort?

 

Thanks

Kim

Edited by home4school
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My father in law passed away 3 years ago and it was extremely difficult for me as he and I were very close. I do not remember so much any words that were said to me but I remember that others I loved and that loved him were there and offered comfort. Their presence is what I took comfort in - not so much the actual words.

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I have lost my father, brother, and sister and I can't recall anyone saying anything that helped me either. Just them being there was what helped. But you always see in the movies where someone says something so profound.

 

I never know what to say and then when I do try to say something, it comes out all wrong.

 

Thanks

Kim

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One thing I remember when I lost a cousin. My Gmother stayed with my aunt AFTER everyone else had gone.

 

You get a ton of visitors at first, and then everyone leaves at once. Now when I visit, I go after the crowd has gone. Of course, sometimes people are ready for the crowd to leave, so you have to judge it and ask the person if they feel like having company.

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Those first days and weeks are just a blur. It is the folks who came by, who wrote, and who called weeks after my brother died that I remember best.

 

To this day, almost eighteen years later, it is the people who are not afraid to mention his name, to remember a time with him, that mean the most to me.

 

So many people worry that mentioning a lost loved one will bring up difficult memories, but in my case it means so much more to me that my brother meant enough to someone that they want to talk about him; to say his name and remember a story that involved him.

 

I would rather have someone come to me and say, "I wish I knew what to say to you, but I just have no words," than to avoid me and say nothing.

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Sigh...I lost my dad to a sudden heart attack. He was buried on his 47th birthday. Please offer a cyber hug to your friend for me.

 

Be there is great advice. To that I add, be a great big pair of ears attached to a loving heart. Over the next two years your friend will need a strong, loving, LISTENING friend.

 

I especially love Doug Manning's book on grief...'Don't Take My Grief Away From Me.' It is the kindest book on grief I've ever found. Both of you will learn from it.

 

As bad as it is right now, the worst is in six or eight or ten weeks (or months) when all reality sinks in and grief crashes over her. Be there. Love her. Listen to her.

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For me, yes. My dad died suddenly right after his 49th birthday. We'd had a rough relationship, & I had a long talk w/ his ex-wife afterward. She was able to convince me not only that my dad had loved me but that he'd known that I loved him, too.

 

Friends who lived 4 hrs away took off work & drove up to attend his funeral. These were *my* friends, not dad's. In my whole life, I've never seen such a huge gesture. I've never been so touched. I was literally speechless.

 

Since it was my dad & he was so young, most people sent cards, flowers, & food to my grandmother. I appreciated the people who sent food to us, too. My sis & bro stayed w/ me for about 3 days while we went through piles of pics, scanning, printing, etc. for the visitation. Add in 2 spouses, my mom, & 2 dc, & food was really helpful & appreciated.

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"I'm here anytime you want to talk, day or night" Those words were the most comforting. I also agree with the post that said be there when everyone else isn't. The first month everyone cares. Flowers are sent, cards arrive, dinners are brought to you, and the phone rings endlessly. After that the grief sets in and everyone has moved on with their lives...except you. That's when you need a friend to call and let you know they are thinking of you. When a special day arrives is another big one. Don't intrude, but kindly ask if they want dinner brought to them, go to dinner, or just to talk on the birthday, anniversary, or even holidays. Those are hard days to spend alone when you are used to your loved one being next to you and celebrating with you. It's unimaginable how a listening ear and kind heart is the largest gesture of kindness one can extend. :grouphug:

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One thing that helped me a lot when my dad died (2006, lung cancer) was to have people tell me that grieving is an individual process, and by that gave me permission to take as long as I wanted to with it. No one rushed me through it, but I can imagine that one of the worst things to experience when grieving would be trying to accomodate someone else's time table. Your friend had a horrible experience, and your presence and your prayers, no matter what you say, will be a comfort.

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Losing my mom was the hardest thing. It still is in many ways.

 

I was in university when she died. I thought I had to just keep going because I thought that's what she'd have wanted. Then one day, several weeks after she'd passed, I remember walking across campus with a good friend. All of a sudden, I just couldn't take another step. It was like a wall of grief just rose up a hit me. I was physically unable to move, even to breathe.

 

My friend stopped and -- wonderful friend that she was -- recognized something in the look on my face. She took my backpack, sat it on the ground, took my hands and stood there with me for several minutes until I could snap out of whatever had grabbed hold of me.

 

She told me "It's okay to grieve." I kind of lost it then and cried a while on her shoulder. We never did go to class. She took me home and let me talk and cry.

 

That was the greatest thing anyone could have ever said or done for me. I'll never be able to thank her enough for that.

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I agree with those who said that your words may not even penetrate, much less be helpful or remembered. But, your presence will be treasured and remembered forever.

 

I speak from the experience of losing my dad, and a year later, my little brother. I will always remember who came to me, though I have no recollection of what they said. They were my lifeline.

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no words comforted me, but I was glad when my father's suffering came to an end. That's the only comfort I had.

 

What your friend and her daughter saw is absolutely HORRIFIC. I can't even imagine! Just tell your friend how sorry you are about everything and that words are so meaningless at such a time but you want her to know that you're praying for her, you're there for her, and you really care.

 

The 6 month mark is very, very hard. It seems that things are really sinking in by that point. Also all the firsts are hard (anniversary, birthday, holidays, etc.) so try to remember that and do something special for her so she knows you care.

 

Denise

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That pretty much sums up the good stuff.

 

Bad stuff:

"I know just how you feel."

"I felt even worse than you when my XXx died."

"Isn't it great that she's in heaven now." (Yes, but I don't really want to hear that this particular minute.)

"It's actually selfish to want him back; he was in so much pain." (Great, I'm already devastated, and now I'm selfish, too.)

 

Another good thing, this is a touchy one, but wow--

An old pastor said to our family when my GM died, "Imagine what it must have been like for her when she opened her eyes and saw heaven all around!" I am not completely sure why that was so helpful when the similar question, above, was so anti-helpful. But it was fabulous.

 

Something I often tell people is not to be surprised if they feel better and then worse again for a while. That was a surprise to me, and not a good one. I don't know for sure whether people find it helpful or not, but I would have.

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Those first days and weeks are just a blur. It is the folks who came by, who wrote, and who called weeks after my brother died that I remember best.

 

To this day, almost eighteen years later, it is the people who are not afraid to mention his name, to remember a time with him, that mean the most to me.

 

So many people worry that mentioning a lost loved one will bring up difficult memories, but in my case it means so much more to me that my brother meant enough to someone that they want to talk about him; to say his name and remember a story that involved him.

 

I would rather have someone come to me and say, "I wish I knew what to say to you, but I just have no words," than to avoid me and say nothing.

 

If I were more eloquent, I could have written this post. My brother has only been dead for six years, and I CRAVE him being the topic of discussion.

 

With a lump in my throat,

Melissa

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...there may not be anything you can say.

 

Some old friends of ours lost their daughter in a car crash, and had another daughter (who was in the same car), clinging to life in the hospital, and the dad told me later that my husband really blessed him...by simply sitting with him and crying.

 

He said nothing, because he didn't know what to say...and that was okay.

 

If you're just there for her, following her cues about what she needs (ask, if you're not sure), I don't know how you can go wrong.

 

I'm so sorry. :-(

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Does she have anyone to help her with the funeral arrangements, such as family or friends nearby ?

When my Dad died my Uncle was visiting us and helped with the funeral arrangements. It would have been a big ordeal for my brother and I. I was 16. But no one thought or knew to bring any food to us for after the funeral. My brother and I ended up being alone at home after the funeral while everyone else went out to eat because we had nothing to offer everyone for food and no money to go out with.

It's not so much what you say but being there as a friend that makes a difference.

 

But don't be surprised if in a year or even much longer she still needs to talk about missing her dear husband.

 

It was very hurtful to me when a friend once said to me "Do you have to talk about your Dad" when I was talking about him a year or so after he died. But she was an immature teenager.

But my Mom couldn't stand it if I cried about him. She actually told me to stop crying about him, which I had only done a couple of times in front of her.

Really, others can be very selfish about the grief others are going through. The fact that you care about your friend will make a difference.

If you find her grief annoying after it has gone on for a year or two or longer don't say anything to show your impatience in that. Not that I think you will. But it is surprising how mean others can be about it at times.

O.K. I didn't mean to vent so much.

Edited by Miss Sherry
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Bad stuff:

"I know just how you feel."

"I felt even worse than you when my XXx died."

"Isn't it great that she's in heaven now." (Yes, but I don't really want to hear that this particular minute.)

"It's actually selfish to want him back; he was in so much pain." (Great, I'm already devastated, and now I'm selfish, too.)

 

:iagree:

 

Although I'm a Christian, I've heard these things before when I've lost a loved one, and they were not at all helpful. It's better not to comfort someone with platitudes and just be there for them, allowing them to grieve, talk, vent, etc. Trying to find ways to be helpful with food, errands, and generally being available to help is the best thing you can possibly do for someone.

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Words cannot make the pain easier, but knowing you are there for her will mean everything to her. Let her talk if she wants to talk. Just be there for her if she doesn't. An "I'm so sorry", a hug, a hand to hold. Those things are what will get her through.

 

I am so sorry for your friend's loss.

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When mourning losses, I personally cling to Matthew 5:4, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Simply put, it gives me permission to go through all the grief, hurt, pain, anger, disappointment, etc. It also reassures me to know that my Lord knows my pain and desires to comfort me.

 

Even as I type though, my heart aches for the losses I've had over the past couple of years and I recognize some losses are harder than others. I would imagine your friend's loss would be among the most difficult and painful to mourn. I pray she feels the presence of our Lord during this time.

 

Blessings to you as you stand by her. I think your friendship before her loss will be of far greater comfort than anything you say or express during this time. She will know you by your love that was always there.

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As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death. Leonardo da Vinci

 

When we lost our grampa, I think the most touching thing was the card my friend sent me. It was not full of platitudes, it was not uncomfortable. It was a sincere apology, that things like this happen, a sincere wish, that we would feel less bad (her words) and that we would be able to keep him in our hearts forever.

 

I'm so sorry for your friend and her child. What an incredibly horrible, hard moment to face.

 

Be there for her and remember that these things never stop hurting. You can never cry enough, or grieve enough, or scream enough, to make it feel better. There's never enough hugs or well wishes to fill the chasm. Bitterness is protective.

 

:grouphug:

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The thing that helped me the most after both my grandfathers died in within a few months, was when I expressed doubts to someone about my beliefs, and instead of judging me, they just listened, and tried to understand, and explained that it was normal for me to feel that way.

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The simple acknowledgement of having lossed a loved one were the best words for me. When there were no words or mention of my great loss (my mother) it was very painful. My in-laws (brothers & sisters) made no mention of it when I saw them the summer my mother died (they did not attend any service - due to long distances or send any cards).

 

A hug is always welcomed too.

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My friend's dh died suddenly of a heart attack at age 47. I have no words for her. I would like to have something to say when I talk to her. I know she is a Christian, not sure about him.

 

He called and told her he was having chest pain and was driving himself to the hospital. She went to meet him, got there before him. She called him on his cell, he told her he was turning in the ER lot. She saw him turn in the parking lot, slump over the wheel, accelerate across the lot, hit a curb, go airborne into a grassy area and crash into a drainage ditch. She ran to the car, wading knee-deep in the water to get to him, but he was already gone. Her 18 dd saw the whole thing, too. Needless to say, she has been inconsolable.

 

When someone you love has died, has anyone ever said anything that was a comfort?

 

Thanks

Kim

 

Honestly, no. However.. just be there. At first, in this kind of loss, she will get a lot of outside help & attention. I know for me, what ment the most looking back was getting a card from a dear friend about 6 months after the loss. She wrote a sweet note about the person I'd lost- she gave me a story along w/ telling me how that person inpacted her life. I am glad she waited the 6 months, I was dealing w/ different emotions at that point & wasn't overwhelmed w/ the loss in the same way. Her 18 yr old would get a lot out of a letter, expressing maybe a story from her childhood about her dad. I'm sry your friend has to go through this...

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We lost one of our children six years ago (January 20, in fact, so this is fresh in my mind today). He had a genetic condition which was very serious and we knew from Day One that we were on limited time with him -- and were able to enjoy almost five wonderful, awful, scary, joyful years with him.

 

When he died, the things which comforted us the most were ALWAYS when people were honest with their feelings -- having someone say, "I have no way to comfort you right now, but my heart is breaking for you," or "I heard about your son and went home and hugged each of my children tight," meant so much more to us than those (well-meaning, I'm sure) people who said absolutely inane things like, "Well, I'm sure God needed another angel," (no, people don't turn into angels and you're an idiot for saying so -- my inside-my-head response, while hugging them and gritting my teeth).

 

Sometimes the best thing is to say, "I have nothing that can be of any comfort to you right now, because it doesn't seem to make sense, but I am here if you need to talk or scream or whatever." One of my neighbors had lost her 19yo son in a car accident the summer before our son died, and she told me it helped her one day to drive somewhere remote and scream inside her closed car. Everyone deals differently.

 

Also, be there for her long after everyone else fades into the sunset. The days and weeks following all the hubbub are when people need someone the most.

 

Lynda

Edited by datmama4
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I got the best advice from my girlfriend regarding this.

 

Her daughter was abducted when she was 10 years old, and they didn't find the body for 15 years.

 

She said that a lot of times when someone tried to say something, or console her, it would come out wrong and make them both feel uncomfortable. If the situation is bad enough there just isn't anything that can be said to make the person feel better. What words could possibly consol a mother whose daughter was abducted and missing?

 

She always said that the best thing to say is simply "I'm so sorry." That's all.

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Just say, "I'm so sorry." Repeat, with hugs and love. Don't feel a need to fill silence.

 

Write her a note, and in it mention some things you remember about her dh, perhaps some things you liked about him. It's easier to write it in a card than to say, and then she has that written memento to treasure and re-read.

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Those first days and weeks are just a blur. It is the folks who came by, who wrote, and who called weeks after my brother died that I remember best.

 

To this day, almost eighteen years later, it is the people who are not afraid to mention his name, to remember a time with him, that mean the most to me.

 

So many people worry that mentioning a lost loved one will bring up difficult memories, but in my case it means so much more to me that my brother meant enough to someone that they want to talk about him; to say his name and remember a story that involved him.

 

I would rather have someone come to me and say, "I wish I knew what to say to you, but I just have no words," than to avoid me and say nothing.

 

When you have a memory of her dh pop up, TELL HER. Don't be afraid to mention his name. She's thinking of him every minute, and NOT talking about him can be very hard. She may need to talk about finding him -- over and over. Or, she may want to talk about happier times. Let her.

 

Say, "I'm sorry." Say, "This stinks." Or say, "I don't know what to say." Just be with her and let her talk. You CANNOT heal her -- only time can (but don't tell her time will heal!). Listen to her, hug her, cry with her, and listen some more.

 

Hugs,

 

Lisa

P.S. Remembering to call/see her on their anniversary, the family birthdays, and major holidays is really helpful. She'll feel especially sad on those "reminder" days.

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Thank you for all your heartfelt replies. I thought I was ready, but when I finally was able to talk to her, all I could manage was "I have no words." I stumbled along and we actually had a really good talk. We laughed a bit and then she broke down. I will just take all your advice and try not to say just the right thing because there's just not one and any time I try to say something, it just comes out wrong.:(

 

I will just be there now and in future days. Thanks for reminding me to do that. I get so caught up in hsing, that I forget there's life outside this house sometimes.

 

It will be easy for me to remember their anniversary, bc my sister was a photographer and was to do their wedding. But she had a heart attack and died the day before their wedding. She was only 43. I'm 43 now.:(

 

She said people had brought food to the house, but she's not much for eating. So, I'm going to take some munchy stuff, drinks, and brownies to the funeral home. I thought maybe when she needed to just walk away for a bit of a break, she might be tempted to pick up a cracker and cheese or fruit or something than sitting down to a plate full. I also decided not to do flowers now, but wait until the spring and take a flowering something to plant in her yard.

 

Think that will be okay?

 

Blessings and thanks so much!

Kim

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I cannot imagine. I haven't read through the posts and I'm sure someone (more like several someones) has given you wonderful advice. A friend of mine who lost her mother several years ago sent me this link because she found it very helpful - and true.

 

http://rocksinmydryer.typepad.com/shannon/what_id_like_for_you_to_know/

 

Prayers for your friend and for you as you look to help her.

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I'm glad you found some help from the store of sad experiences people have been able to share. That was the one bright spot about losing my mom, I was able to be more empathetic to other peoples' losses.

 

The most helpful thing someone said to me was at my mother's funeral. A gray-haired old lady (the mother of a friend of mine) came to me and said, "You never have to stop missing your mom. I still sometimes think 'Oh, I want to tell Mom about this!' and I have to remember that she's gone. I still miss her today."

 

Strangely enough, that was such a comfort. To know that I wasn't ever going to stop missing my mom, and that it was ok.

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