Category: What to Say

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The Power of Empathy

Here’s a short video that I came across and thought was worth sharing.

It is hard to “connect” to pain and suffering, but it really is the only way to make a meaningful difference.


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Don’t Know What to Say when Someone Dies?


Before losing our six-year-old Ellie, I had no idea what to say to someone that experienced loss. The fear of saying the wrong thing was paralyzing and very uncomfortable.

I ran a poll in several groups that I belong to and asked “What are the best things someone could say to you as you grieve the loss of your loved one?” These were the top answers:

    I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care.
    We all need help at times like this, I am here for you.
    ____ was such a wonderful person.
    My favorite memory of ____ is ____.
    Say nothing. Just be with the person.

Here’s a couple of stories that relate to this topic.

Ellie’s T-Ball Coach

I was in line at a restaurant. The man behind me looked familiar, but he would not look my way. He was busy ordering and I considered just not engaging in any conversation. But, then there was a delay at the register, and I thought why not just go for it.

I said, “weren’t you a T-ball coach?” He replied, “Yes, years ago”. I asked him about his kids and he informed me about his new twins and other kids. He asked me about my kids, and I told him I had three, two boys and a little girl in heaven. I said, “I think you were her T-ball coach”.

Tears welled up in his eyes and I could see the pain in his face. He told me that of course he remembered Ellie and me. He was so afraid to say anything. He told me that they cried and cried when she died in January and wanted me to know that they sent a card. I told him that “it is okay”.

I was fine, but this man was crying right there. I felt good that I could ease his burden, and that he remembered Ellie so fondly. I guess people do look the other way. They are afraid and also in lots of pain. The conversation brought back a bunch of great T-ball memories and I’m thankful for that.

The Baseball Instructor

About two years ago, I took my son to his baseball hitting lesson. We really liked the instructor. I was just being friendly and inquired about his kids. He informed me that his son had committed suicide several years before. I remember being shocked and at a complete loss as to what to do or say. I think I probably looked very uncomfortable, and I was. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I probably changed the subject, and I would bet that I didn’t offer up very much in the way of comfort. And, I definitely never brought that up again, until…

Well, things change. After losing six-year-old Ellie, I have a whole new understanding. First, I give people the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they care, even if it doesn’t seem like it. The fact is that unless you’ve experienced a deep loss, it is hard to empathize and understand. Second, I try to help people with their reactions. I try to make it easy for them as best I can.

I saw the baseball instructor at a game a few months ago. I jumped up and walked up to him. I told him about the conversation we had several years ago and I apologized for my insensitivity and lack of understanding. I told him that I understood that he was so hurt, and that I would be happy to talk to him anytime. Although the circumstances of our children’s deaths were different, we were both fathers without our babies. We shared a hug and a few tears and it was a memorable moment in my life.

Other Articles To Help You

This topic is complicated and there are many opinions. It is our goal to give you useful information from a variety of sources.

I Wish You’d Say

Heartbreak of How are the Kids

How Not to Say the Wrong Thing

How to talk to a parent who has lost a child.

What Not to Say to Bereaved Parents

Comforting Those Who Have Lost

When You Don’t Know What to Say


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