I read a recent post on FaceBook of a woman whose child had died.  A friend said to her, "It will get better."  She took great offense. 

Why?  The comment was a bleated out greeting card cliche.  It was inauthentic as comfort.  I believe it was self directed by a speaker that had no wish to experience the overwhelming emotion.  Not mean-spirited.  What was offensive was that it was not really directed at the grieving person.

I worked in a level one trauma center in New York City.  Death cannot be escaped.  When dealing with anyone involved, the only thing I could say that felt "right" was to speak truth.  Recount what was done, what was observed, reveal how I felt.  Speaking  inauthentically would have felt terribly wrong and even disrespectful.  I could reveal that I have some understanding, reveal that I don't have understanding, or reveal my personal feelings.   Less insulation from death taught me important, albeit hard  lessons.

I especially remember a child that died one night.  She had fallen from a two story window.  There was a close connection  to me since my son was only a little older at the time.  Sympathy, empathy, and compassion were very clear that night.  I did not meet her parents.  If I had, I hope I would have said or done something to ease suffering.

--Dave
 





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