Robbie Miller Kaplan's Blog (180)

Must the Obituary Include a Cause of Death?

When I checked the obituaries in my local newspaper today, I found four out of the 33 stated a cause of death. Of the four, only one was specific. While it is customary to state the cause of death in an obituary, not every family is comfortable doing so. Or, the family is…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on February 3, 2016 at 11:00am — 1 Comment

Condolences When a Friendship Is Strained

I t’s hard not to feel sorrow when a friendship flounders. Maybe you are experiencing a difficult time and a friend vanishes; or, a friend experiences life changes and seems to drop out. It can be hard to pinpoint what has happened and if you are uncomfortable asking, you can only speculate.

This happened to…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on January 19, 2016 at 9:30am — 1 Comment

New Year, Fresh Perspective: 4 Timely Tips

The news was horribly sad: The mother of my daughter’s best friend was terminally ill and in hospice care. She and her husband had retired two years ago and relocated to a community nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was a new beginning with different friends and adventures awaiting;…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on January 4, 2016 at 12:00pm — 1 Comment

Our Cherished Objects

My daughter inherited my mother’s strand of pearls. They were housed in a silk case that was very worn and I replaced it with one of mine, more worthy of the cherished heirloom. I was then faced with the dilemma; what to do with the silk case that my mother’s hands touched every time she…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on December 21, 2015 at 10:30am — No Comments

When a Sympathy Note Is Belated – and You Never Met the Deceased

Oh dear – the days and weeks have passed, and you never wrote the sympathy note. You meant to do it, but it was too hard. You don’t know the bereaved well, and you never met the deceased; nor do you know anything about the relationship between the bereaved and the deceased. How can you…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on December 1, 2015 at 8:00am — No Comments

Bereaved at the Holidays

Mourning the loss of a loved one is hard work and it can feel even tougher when you add holidays into the mix. Our holidays are laced with traditions, memories, and familiar faces. When someone is missing, what do you do? Celebrate as you always did or bury your head under the covers and hope the day and season quickly pass?

The holidays will come and go whether you feel like…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on November 10, 2015 at 6:00am — 2 Comments

How To Deal With Insensitivity After a Death

There seem to be no conversational boundaries when it comes to death. The bereaved are often subjected to inappropriate comments and questions that can shock, hurt, or leave us speechless. We are often left wondering, how can friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, and even acquaintances say or ask…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on November 2, 2015 at 10:00am — No Comments

Healing With Stories

The son of a public figure had lunch with several of his father’s former colleagues following his dad’s death. The stories they told painted a vivid picture of a father he did not know. He was so grateful to better understand his dad that it motivated him to seek out even…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on October 23, 2015 at 9:30am — No Comments

How Best To Communicate With the Bereaved

It’s so important to reach out to the bereaved in the weeks and months following a death. Loss is painful and the bereaved can feel isolated and lonely while mourning their loved one. Connecting to someone who is so very sad can be complicated…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on October 12, 2015 at 12:00pm — No Comments

No Cancer Is a Good Cancer

A young woman shared with friends and family that her mother was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She became frustrated when many of them told her “At least your mom got a good cancer.” While it is true that thyroid cancer has a very high survival rate, the young woman wondered, “How can any cancer be…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on September 24, 2015 at 3:30pm — 2 Comments

Regaining Control in Difficult Times

When illness, death, or another of life’s crises strikes, most of us crave normalcy; we want to once again feel in charge of our lives. What do you do when life feels like it is spinning out of control?

My family knows that in times of difficulty one of the first things I do is load the washing…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on September 15, 2015 at 12:00pm — No Comments

Will You Get To Say Goodbye?

This morning I read in an obituary that a woman in my community “Left this life peacefully in the arms of her husband, children and grandchildren.” Another obituary stated, “She died peacefully surrounded by her loving family.” 

The deaths described sound almost surreal. Is it realistic for us to want to have this type of death experience with our own loved ones? And if so, are we setting…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on August 18, 2015 at 4:30pm — 3 Comments

Extending Sympathy When You’re out of Touch

When I opened the morning newspaper, the death of a former school superintendent was front page news. I worked for the schools during the superintendent’s tenure and his widow had been in my book club. I had not seen either of them in over a decade.

Later that day I remembered that my former…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on August 10, 2015 at 12:54pm — No Comments

Making a Memorial Donation

Many of us choose to make donations in memory of our loved ones and those of our friends, colleagues, family members and neighbors. I made one just today in the memory of a friend’s mom. The donation was easy; the death announcement indicated where donations should be made, and I went online and made the payment.

But when…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on July 10, 2015 at 7:30am — No Comments

Why Obituaries Matter

After the death of a close friend, I searched the paper each morning for her obituary. I never found it. My friend was very accomplished; she was an innovator in her field and a philanthropist and she made a real difference in this world. I’m not sure why it was so important for me to relentlessly search; maybe I needed the written validation of her death or this…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on July 1, 2015 at 7:30am — 4 Comments

The Importance of Tangible Memories

There are reminders of my mother all over the house; the family heirlooms I inherited, the gifts she gave me, family photographs, and the personal items I chose to save. I would not part with the family heirlooms or her handwritten recipe cards, but what about all the letters, cards, and her personal items I elected to keep?…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on June 17, 2015 at 2:30pm — No Comments

Your Role in Helping the Bereaved

With several high profile deaths in the news there have been many media references to grief and what actions help the bereaved. There are no new insights, just reminders on the vital role we each can play in helping the bereaved heal following a difficult loss.

Let’s start with what does not help; avoiding or…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on June 9, 2015 at 10:30am — No Comments

Mom in the Kitchen

If you ask someone to share a memory of their mom, chances are it involves food. Nothing triggers more memories of mom than her cooking. For many of us, it’s a favorite recipe or it could be the time we spent in the warm kitchen where we felt safe and sheltered.

I was blessed with a mom who was a wonderful cook. My childhood…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on May 6, 2015 at 10:00am — No Comments

Why We Need Good Listeners

Have you ever felt the need to talk and been disappointed? I know I have. One particular friend can cut a phone call short without any notice, and yet she is a wonderful listener and one of my closest confidantes. I have learned that when I need her to listen, I must ask.

All of us experience difficult times that leave us…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on April 28, 2015 at 4:30pm — 1 Comment

Tips for Visiting Someone Who Is Ill

A friend sent an email requesting friends visit her ailing spouse. He’s at home recovering from an accident and he is lonely while she is at work. She shared in her message that her spouse tires easily after at home therapy. While it’s clear he could use companionship, he has yet to regain his stamina.

Many of…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on April 1, 2015 at 10:00am — No Comments

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