What happens when someone you care about is grieving a loss and you know you said the wrong thing? That’s what happened to a friend of mine. She attended a family dinner and said something to her sister-in-law that she immediately knew was inappropriate. She didn’t know what to do, so she said nothing and her sister-in-law never mentioned it either. And even though the relationship seems fine, my friend feels guilty and wonders if there is something she can say a year later to make amends.
I suggested she use a note card to write a message and here’s what I recommended: Be honest – let her know that she is someone special in your life and your relationship is very important. Mention that you said something to her a year ago at dinner and you’ve been at a loss ever since as to how you might apologize. You never meant to hurt her and you want to let her know how sorry you are for what was said. You can tell her how fortunate you feel to have her as a family member. And use the same close for your note that you’d use in other correspondence with her.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store. Click here to order.
Image via Flickr Creative Commons / butupa