What can you say?

I have co-workers that I consider friends. I have co-workers that I consider acquaintances. I have a couple of co-workers that I hardly know at all, even though I’ve been working with them for years.

When I had my training on my birthday last month, I ended up eating lunch with one of my co-worker acquaintances. She took a call in the middle of lunch and then apologized, her mother was quite ill and she had been struggling with insurance to get her treatment. She spoke briefly about what was going on and then we finished our training and moved on. We’ve interacted at work since then but not really spoken about anything personal.

Today, I overheard her talking to someone about the trouble she was having with funeral arrangements for her mom.

Seriously, what can you say to someone who’s just lost a parent? It’s hard for me to think of anything to say to a friend that would be supportive but not intrusive.

I would never say, even to a friend,

“Well, they’re in a better place now.” Even if the person believes in an afterlife or something akin to it, it’s a stupid thing to say. People mourn the passing of their loved ones because they’re not here. Pointing out that minor detail seems to be almost rubbing it in.

“At least it wasn’t sudden, you had time to prepare.” When are you ever prepared for someone you love dying? Even if I knew the exact date and time, down to the last second, it would still be a horrible shock.

“Well, you can take comfort in the fact they’re not suffering anymore.” Maybe they aren’t suffering anymore… But I am.

“I remember when I lost my…” Yeah, cuz making it about you is really going to help.

“You should just try and stay positive!” Fuck. You.

“I’m sorry.” Pity is never really helpful in my experience.

“Is there anything I can do?” Is there ever really anything? Unless you’re very close and can help with things like funeral arrangements and sorting belongings and whatnot, there’s not a lot of help you can give. It’s not a boo-boo you can put a band-aid on. The only thing that really helps is time. I dunno, maybe some people DO want to hear that.

So what do you say?

I dunno. I just said,

“Can I give you a hug?”


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ninjasinstitches
    Jul 11, 2013 @ 11:57:15

    I think that’s the best thing you could have said..


  2. movieguy41
    Jul 11, 2013 @ 12:06:46

    This is 100% spot on.



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