“What if I Say the Wrong Thing?”

Mrs. NJ wrote a letter to her friends in a club she belongs to.  I thought the advice worth sharing . . .

I would like to give everyone a little insight into how to talk to someone in grief over a great loss.  I know that most people don’t know what to say, and most of the time I don’t know what to say either.  Everyone is different in their grief, but with the help of a book and my own preferences, here is some advice:

  • It’s okay to talk about Jack and his death.
  • I appreciate it when you check in, call, or write to me.
  • I feel better when you say that you care about me, or that I’m in your thoughts.
  • It’s okay to ask questions, but please don’t press if I can’t answer.
  • When I seem “zoned out” or overwhelmed, please give me time.  Your presence alone is comforting.
  • Continue to invite me to social events, but understand if I don’t feel able to go.
  • Please feel free to offer help with household chores and babysitting.
  • Have no fear of continuing to acknowledge Jack in the years to come; I want him to be remembered.

A few don’ts:

  • Please keep any negative comments about my parenting to yourself.
  • Please don’t say he’s in a better place.  This is not better.
  • If I laugh and seem normal, please don’t think I don’t care. Trust me, later I will cry myself to sleep and feel guilty for enjoying my time with friends.
  • Don’t worry if you accidentally use one of those common phrases that you think will remind me of Jack’s death.  Just pretend you didn’t say it.  You can talk normally.  His absence is what hurts, and no figure of speech can make it worse.

 Thank you all for your understanding.

Jack in Daddy's shoes

He was so beautiful….


One response to ““What if I Say the Wrong Thing?”

  1. John – I read every word you post. I think warmly of you and your wife and your family often. I have never met you, but your words bring tears to my eyes, and I pray you will all find your own way to move forward, though it will never be OK. This is a beautifully written piece, and is so insightful and helpful for those who want to reach out but do not know how. What a wonderful picture of your little man, trying to fill his daddy’s shoes. He really is beautiful, those eyes speak volumes. I am thinking of you and your wife and family. Sincerely, Sue.

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