Friend of Leo's
- Feb 6, 2007
- central illinois
Like many things in life, I suppose we all have our own approach to how we offer sympathy. To me, the anecdote tops the generalization every time, but only if you're willing to, as you say, put a little forethought into it. Even though the dad was a drunk and a lousy provider (or whatever), a redeeming thought or two can never hurt. Chances are that a little healing is taking place, maybe wiping away some of the bitter. Just my thought.like anything, any forethought is probably helpful. i was recently at a wedding where the daughter of an old old friend attended. Her dad (who was about my age) passed away after a terrible illness. There had been only a very small funeral due to recent circumstances, so none of us had been able to attend. they live at a good distance from us and over the years, we haven't seen them in years.
It was important for her to find me and say hi. When she saw me, she came over and gave me a HUGE hug (she is in her 30's now) and was tearing up. I thought, 'oh my, what can I say that will make this livable?' She said, "I wanted to thank you, my favorite memories of childhood are when you would come to visit." And that just killed me, I knew that she'd endured some very hard times. When I would be up in their area working (in my early 20's) I could hire her dad to work with me and I'd stay with them and go to the grocery and load everything up. (her dad was a carpenter)
all I could think of to say was, 'I just want you to know how much I love your mom and dad (they have both passed way too young) and I want you to know, you were one of the sweetest, coolest, best, little kids..' and she hugged me again and said, 'you never change, you always made me feel important'
She is doing well. She has 2 little ones, her own business (in Vegas!) and her husband also has a business and they are thriving.
I kind of decided that from now on, I'm just going to tell people that I loved the person that passed (assuming that is true.) I've had enough loss in my life to know what I appreciate and what can cause other issues. I steer clear of the anecdote as it can make others feel weird or left out. I steer clear of expressing how great the person was because often the family had a different experience or there is the 'well, he may have helped you, but he was always drunk at home' or something.
I have buried people who struggled at life and caused a LOT of pain and all the 'kind words' were rough to hear... graciousness always wins out... but, bs is pretty much never a good call.
Maybe, when you really don't know the right thing... I just leave it at, 'I'm just so very sorry for your loss.' which is heartfelt, I don't want anyone to have to lose anything and it doesn't tromp into other territory that may not be appreciated.