I’m So Over, “I’m so sorry for your loss”

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I really shouldn’t be as irritated as I am by the phrase. I tend to not talk about it especially not when it is used! So welcome to another side of The Lively Death Lady, the feisty side.

I am stepping up on my soap box and I’m gonna say it. Please stop using the phrase, “I’m so sorry for your loss”.

While I think Wilde’s quote about losing a parent is a good enough reason that is not my main challenge with the phrase. Family and friends of the dead hear “I’m so sorry for your loss” over and over …and over. To the point where it can totally lose its meaning – and become simple and hollow.

It has become so common, it’s like “How are you?” in everyday life. Something we say with the expectation that we will only hear “Fine” in return. The phrase “I’m so sorry for your loss” can have a similar, please don’t say more than “thank you” feeling to it.

Just read it ten times.

I’m so sorry for your loss

I’m so sorry for your loss

I’m so sorry for your loss

I’m so sorry for your loss

I’m so sorry for your loss

I’m so sorry for your loss

I’m so sorry for your loss

I’m so sorry for your loss

I’m so sorry for your loss

I’m so sorry for your loss

How does it make you feel?

I do appreciate the power of reinforcing words to those struggling with a death. It is good for them to repeatedly hear the truth, that a person in their life really is dead. It helps with the process of accepting that reality.

Also, I do get it. We are struggling to say the right thing. “I’m so sorry for your loss” are the six words that are the easiest to push out when our emotions are bound up and twisted, struggling to say the right words.

I’m here to say, I think we can do better.

We can rise above the low, though polite, “I’m so sorry for your loss” bar.

Here’s How, Share a Memory.

Sharing a memory of an experience shows connection and how much they meant to you too.

It doesn’t have to be deep. Doesn’t have to be serious. Just real. Even if it is simple.

  • “I remember her chocolate chip cookies and how they made her kitchen smell. The stories we told over those cookies will always be treasured by me.”
  • “He was such a great fisherman. I remember this one time when he claimed he caught a whopper but when his bucket overturned we saw barely a minnow”
  • “When I was going through a hard time with my divorce, they reached out to me to share their care and concern.”

See the difference. It makes a connection, shares affection, and has true meaning. Sometimes a memory might even allow for a smile in the surrounding gloom.

Sharing memories is especially powerful when a child dies. If you can focus on the joy of that child and things that they did, it is a welcome relief from “I’m so sorry for your loss”. “Her jokes and smile could really light up a room”, “I loved watching him play baseball with his brother”, or “It was great to hear her sing at the school concert”.

Obviously, it’s hard to share a memory about a stranger, a person linked to someone you care about but haven’t met. Try and connect how, who they are, reflects on the person who died. For example, “She must have been an amazing woman to have raised someone as special as yourself” or “I can tell they meant a lot to you. So I’m sure they were a wonderful person in your life”.

Here is some tough love folks. “God must have another plan for them”, “At least their suffering has ended”, “I know how you must feel” should never be said. Avoid these lines at all costs. None are helpful and can be cruel or insulting to those that are grieving a death.

Grieving someone is one of the most emotionally challenging experiences in our lives. It deserves your thoughtful effort on what to say to best comfort people you care about. Give them something to really listen to that brings insight and concern – not just a toss-away, over-used phrase.

You can do better. I believe in you.

Want to use this article in your e-zine or blog? Feel free to do so.

Be sure to include this as well:

Kel McBride, MLS, CEOLS, also known as the Lively Death Lady is a death and dying educator. She supports people in making informed decisions about their death that are in sync with their values. From health care to legacy, McBride makes the morbid intriguing and light-hearted, with amusing examples and details of lesser-known options. Her clients get their documents in order, have quality conversations about their wishes with friends and family – and also find a new focus on LIVING. She primarily works with people who are younger & healthy, people who believe their death is in the distant future. For more information or to be added to her EXPIRATIONS INSPIRATIONS blog email kel.mcbride@clearlydepart.com or visit clearlydepart.com

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By | 2019-10-20T18:28:43+00:00 April 21st, 2019|0 Comments

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