1401 Charlestown Road
Phoenixville, PA 19460
800.432.8322 | 610.935.0450
1401 Charlestown Road | Phoenixville, PA 19460 | 610.935.0450
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“You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.” Jan Glidewell
“I never know what to say at times like this,” my friend said to me as we stood in a receiving line waiting to visit with a grieving family who had recently lost a loved one. Graciously he added, “I’m sure you do, though.” Actually I don’t.
I think we all struggle at times like that. And even with considerable training and experience (unfortunately), I am not an exception either.
Someone compiled a list of “Ten Ways You Can Help Me in My Grief.” They helped me. Perhaps they’ll help you.
I’m sure you could add a host of additional suggestions to this short list. At our best we all can be a bit clumsy when we are trying to express in word or deed our deepest sympathy to those who have suffered profound loss. One of my dearest friends still grieves over what was said to him at his daughter’s funeral after she was killed by a drunk driver leaving behind her husband and small children.
Comments like “Time heals all wounds” or “Think of all you still have to be thankful for” or “You are holding up so well” are not constructive.
Sympathy cards express our concern but nothing can take the place of our personal handwritten words. When my mother died in 1989, one of my students copied this short poem in long hand inside a sympathy card, “Death is not extinguishing the light, it is turning out the lamp because the dawn has come.” Since those words profoundly comforted me, I usually copy them by hand in almost every sympathy card I send.
We should all remember the words on the Irish headstone, “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
Valley Forge Christian College is a private Christian College located in Chester County, Pennsylvania, 35 miles northwest of downtown Philadelphia. VFCC offers on its sprawling park-like campus, as well as online, 57 undergraduate and six graduate degrees in the Arts, the Sciences and the Professions. The college's mission is to prepare individuals for a life of service and leadership in the church and in the world.