Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Condole? Can do!

A friend recently lost someone (they died) and I have been seeing people express their sympathies on Facebook, where I've learned some things about how to and how not to do that, funky-fresh for the 2017s-style. Think this is a difficult position to be in? Think about yourself and how hard this is for you!

  • Don't LOL - If you know what 'LOL' stands for, you probably already know you shouldn't do it. If you don't know what it stands for, you still shouldn't do it.
  • Maximize the minimization - Your friend feels bad, because they're burdened by overwhelming grief and sadness. Of course you don't want that. You want your friend to feel good, and the way you do that is by minimizing their grief and sadness. Take it down a notch! Helpfully remind them of things that they may have forgotten, such as "death is part of life", "he/she is in a better place" and "God has a plan". Don't be harsh in pointing these things out; they might have just slipped their mind. 
  • Make sure everyone knows how you feel - You want to relate to your friend in this situation. Establish common ground by telling a story about how you knew someone else who died once and how sad you were and how that means you know exactly how your friend feels. Don't be afraid to dig deep (side note: try to avoid metaphors like 'dig deep' when possible) to find common ground (side note: maybe avoid mentioning 'ground', while you're at it). If their mom died and yours is still alive, tell them that you knew somebody once who had a mom but that was a long time ago and she's probably dead by now (you've lost touch over the years) and even if she might not be dead, just the idea that it is likely true has affected you profoundly, because that's how deeply you feel things.
  • Don't waste an opportunity - When you post on a social media platform like Facebook, you have to think of it as posting to the entire world, because that's how pervasive the reach is. With that in mind, it would be downright silly to not let folks know what side projects you have going on, even as your friend deals with the aftermath of a loved one's absence from their life: "I'll miss (person who died) and I'm very sorry (he/she) didn't live long enough to read the new book I'm writing that will be available on Amazon as well as several local, independent book stores in the Tampa Bay area. I know (person who died) would have wanted it that way, and by 'it' I mean global distribution via the world's leading on-line retailer while also supporting local 'niche' merchants."
  • Go big - Try not to be the first one to express your condolences because there's a lot of pressure that comes from setting the bar and you don't need that in a time like this. Wait until a few people weigh and then be better than them. If someone says "You have my sympathies", say "You have my deepest sympathies". If they say, "I know this is a difficult time", say "I know this is an extremely difficult time". Adjectives will be tremendously helpful but be judicious; avoid extreme modifiers unless circumstances warrant. Somebody's 91-year-old grandfather passing away peacefully in his sleep might qualify as "tragic" but probably not "horrific".
  • Be inclusive - Kind of along the same lines as the previous bullet point: If someone says "I'm holding you in my heart", say "I'm holding you and your family in my heart". This is a great way to earn points with cousins and other outliers. If someone says "You are in my thoughts", say "You are in my thoughts and prayers". A great philosopher (I don't recall the name) once posed the fundamental question, "Conjunction Junction, what's your function?" Think about it.
  • Spelling matters - It doesn't matter how casually you normally regard spelling and grammar; a situation like this requires that you buckle down and do it the right way for a change. Don't say "I'm sorry for your lost" because that doesn't make sense and it doesn't matter how sincere your condolences are, nobody wants to hear from a dumbass when they're trying to deal with a lost. 
  • Don't say "I'm sorry" - It's trite. Plus, why would you apologize? It's not your fault. Unless it is, in which case it's probably best that you not say anything at all. Until you talk to a lawyer, at least.

1 comment:

Dianna Austin Lacey said...

All good advice. (Still funny tho)