Thursday, December 6, 2012
I received word this week that a friend of mine had lost her mother over the weekend. I made sure to send her a handwritten note, expressing my sympathies and letting her know that I was thinking of her.
Much has been written over the years about death and the varied rituals that surround it. Every culture is obviously different in how it treats death and the lack of any consistent approach can leave us feeling pretty awkward and uncomfortable. I imagine that in societies where elderly people routinely live with their children until they die, death becomes somewhat more accepted as a normal part of the "cycle of life." However, in our current American culture, many of us (myself included for sure) have very limited exposure to people dying and therefore struggle to know how to handle it in our own families as well as how to support our friends.
What do you say to someone who's lost a loved one? How much do you smother them with attention and how much "space" do you give them? Of course, everyone's needs are different and there can be no blanket rule that works for all people. I've found that I just make sure that I send a handwritten note and that I write at least a few meaningful sentences of support, letting them know they're in my thoughts.