Comforting Words - When You Don't Know What To Say

This is the blog of Robbie Miller Kaplan, author of "How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say." Please bookmark my site as a resource on helpful ways to comfort those facing tough times. Comments and questions are welcome!

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Welcome to Comforting Words! We’ve all faced a situation that’s left us speechless. A friend shares a devastating medical diagnosis, you learn via email of a relative’s death, or an acquaintance with a long-standing marriage tells you she’s getting divorced. What do you say? We’ve all been at a loss for words when we've needed them most. My goal in creating this blog is to provide a forum to share stories, ideas, and resources that will help us communicate effectively when confronted with unexpected news of loss and difficult times. And most important, I’d like to give insight into the best ways to help others so they don’t feel isolated and unsupported when facing difficult times. I feel so passionately about the importance of providing support that I wrote a book on the topic: How to Say It When You Don’t Know What to Say: The Right Words for Difficult Times. It's now available in volumes on Illness & Death, Miscarriage, Suicide and e-books on Death of a Child, Death of Newborn or Stillborn Baby, Divorce, Pet Loss and Caregiver Responsiblities at

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What to say to a grieving spouse

A colleague, Joan Price, recently lost her beloved husband, Robert. Many folks she encountered found it hard to say the right thing and too often she was asked, “How are you doing?" Joan wondered, “What was I supposed to answer? The truth was ‘Horrible, of course!’ but I restrained myself."

I asked Joan to share what she wished folks had said so we could learn how to better communicate with a grieving spouse. Joan reminded me that we each grieve differently and statements that she liked might not work as well with others. But these are her heartfelt suggestions:

1. “Tell me about him.”
With people who didn’t know him or barely knew him, this is a wonderful opening for me to talk about him.

2. “I miss him, too.”
From people who did know him, this is the perfect thing to say.

3. “Here’s what I loved about him” or “Here’s something special he did that I’ll always remember.”
How beautiful to add to my memories of him during this time.

Thanks, Joan!

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