I just spent a couple of hours writing a condolence-letter to a former cousin-in-law, over the loss of her husband to cancer two days ago. It’s a sad thing to write that sort of letter, but it’s also a task that I undertake in earnest; I don’t believe in preprinted condolence-cards – not now, not ever.
I hadn’t spoken to either one of them for years because they are my “former family”, and that is how circumstances have benignly played out … and because the circumstances have been benign, I felt that I had (gentle) dispensation to write the widow who is my age about her husband who was also my age. While I was working to channel what I wanted to be my most compassionate instincts to paper after ten-plus years of no contact with them, however, part of what I was feeling while writing was, actually, anger.
Time after time, it has made me ACHE to see people like that new widow hurting, but watch other people – especially closest friends and family – WIMP OUT … not say anything, not do anything, not BE THERE, solely because “death makes us uncomfortable”.
I’ve got news for you, you cowards: you are still here on this mortal coil. That’s more than we can say for the person who’s gone, and barely more than we can say for the devastated, grieving immediate family they left behind.
For the love of God: tell your loved-ones now, today, while you can, how much they mean to you – and when someone else is hurting over losing theirs, do the same for them, too. It’s not the words that matter – it’s saying them out loud.