Robbie Miller Kaplan's Blog (169)

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…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on August 18, 2015 at 4:30pm — 1 Comment

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

Five Ways Facebook Changed the Way We Grieve

A young woman chose to announce her mother’s death on her mom’s Facebook page. She had no other access to her mother’s wide circle of friends and she felt this was the best way to share details for her mother’s funeral. Facebook friends “shared” the funeral plans and the young woman was surprised and comforted at the large turnout at her mom’s…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on March 26, 2015 at 10:30am — No Comments

What happens when a Facebook user dies?

It is unnerving to see Facebook recommend a deceased friend or acquaintance under “Suggestions for People you May Know.” Even creepier to get notified by Facebook to wish a friend happy birthday when your friend has died.

Facebook has processes in place to help you before or…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on March 15, 2015 at 4:00pm — 1 Comment

How Families Can Grieve Together From Afar

With families settled all over the country, even the world, it can be difficult for them to come together to mourn a death. That’s what happened to a friend when her nephew died in Alaska. Her immediate family was spread out on both coasts and a funeral in Alaska was logistically impossible. Her nephew’s death was a devastating loss to my…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on February 24, 2015 at 11:30am — No Comments

Acknowledging Death Anniversaries

It does not matter how long it has been, the date a loved one died is a sad day. When that date occurs, however we choose to spend it, eventually we all remember and reflect on our loved one and the void their death created in our lives.

Grief is a lonely experience so it is very comforting when others remember our…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on February 5, 2015 at 11:00am — No Comments

When the News We Receive Is Bad

The telephone was once the culprit. When it rang at 2 or 3 a.m., you knew it meant bad news. Now, in the era of 24/7 communications, we receive bad news at any time and in any form, whether it’s an email, text message, Skype, Facetime, Facebook post, Twitter or even Facebook messaging.

The telephone is no longer the…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on January 21, 2015 at 2:00pm — No Comments

What Is Your Legacy? Ponder That in 2015

My mom was an English teacher who taught for several years in an inner-city school. Many of her eighth-grade students read on the third-grade level, and my mom said if she taught one child to read each year, it was a successful year. She taught many children to read, but that wasn’t her only achievement. Her friends and family repeatedly…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on January 3, 2015 at 5:30am — No Comments

Communicating With the Bereaved

Death is an inevitable part of life and it’s something we will all experience. Even if we understand that death is unavoidable or we anticipate the death of a loved one, it is still a shocking and painfully difficult experience. No one is truly prepared to mourn the death of a loved one.

The bereaved need our support…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on December 10, 2014 at 9:00am — No Comments

Surviving the Holidays Without Your Loved One



The period of mourning is sad enough but when holiday season hits, it can be harder to cope. Holidays are laced with memories; it’s not just the actual day that is difficult but, it’s the days and weeks leading up to the holiday that are filled with reminders in the foods, smells, music, store displays and activities. You really can’t…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on December 1, 2014 at 6:30am — No Comments

Why Is It So Hard to Ask for Help?

A family in my neighborhood has been quietly struggling for months. The mom has a stubborn virus that is taking a long time to heal and the dad is shopping, cooking, cleaning, and ensuring his kids get wherever they need to go. When he finally shared his family’s situation, neighbors quickly offered to prepare meals. I asked him why he didn’t ask for…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on November 17, 2014 at 8:00am — No Comments

Small Kindnesses With Big Impact

In the best of circumstances, life is not easy. And we all experience rough patches, some harder to navigate than others. When life feels overwhelmingly difficult, a kind gesture can feel like a lifeline.

I have two friends who were feeling overwhelmed, as caregivers for their elderly mothers. I interviewed them…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on November 3, 2014 at 9:00am — No Comments

How to Help Friends and Loved Ones in Difficult Times

When we hear sad news we want to help, but we often do not know how. Instead of figuring out a way to help we say, “Call me if you need anything.” Individuals facing difficult times frequently find it difficult to put one foot in front of the other; they do not have energy to call and even if they did, they probably would not know what to ask for.  So…

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Added by Robbie Miller Kaplan on October 14, 2014 at 7:00am — No Comments

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