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Middletown Transcript
  • Dr. Murray Feingold: Updating words of condolence

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  • Unfortunately, I have attended too many funerals this past month. Although there is a sense of sadness at funerals, at times there is also a celebration of the life of the person who died. Either way, many emotions are present.
    I have noticed at funerals that some people have difficulty expressing their feelings to the family of the deceased. This leads them to utter one of the many standard expressions of grief such as, “I’m sorry for your loss.” There is nothing wrong with this expression but it may not represent the totality of what you are thinking and it also may not express or communicate your individual personality.
    Build upon this comment so it better represents you. Make it more personal. For example, “Mary, Sally and I feel so sorry for your loss of Jim, whom we loved so much. We will miss his thoughtfulness and sense of humor.”
    Another common condolence phrase is, “Our prayers and thoughts are with you at this most difficult time.” This saying is quite standard and may not totally represent you.
    That doesn’t mean you can’t use certain parts of the phrase, but make changes so it better symbolizes who you are. “Bill, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, and I know it is difficult to adjust to the loss of your wonderful wife, Joan.”
    The saying, “Our condolences to you and your family” is also a comment that needs to be more personalized.
    Today, during a wake or funeral, the words “death” or “died” are less frequently said to the bereaved, such as, “I was so sorry to hear about John’s death.” Now, more commonly said is, “I was so sorry to hear about John’s passing.” The word “passing” has replaced “passed away,” which replaced “died.”
    There is obviously nothing wrong with crying at a funeral if that is the emotion you are feeling. It can also be very therapeutic. Hugging is another way to express your sorrow and closeness to the family.
    Recalling happy memories of the deceased to the family is not only appropriate but usually brings them much joy.
    It is also very important to remember that the family still needs your love and support after the funeral — so don’t forget them.
    Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of The Feingold Center for Children, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio and president of The Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.

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