Monday, June 02, 2008

How to Survive the Grief Process: 10 Tacky Questions - 10 Tips on How to Respond

The funeral is over.

You’ve written ten thousand checks and you've signed your name ten thousand times. Your tongue is numb from licking and stamping stamping ten thousand envelopes for ten thousand thank you notes, to ten thousand individuals. Is it any wonder, ten thousand times you wished you were dead?

The sight of Mr. Mailman, FTD, and your next-door friendly neighbor reduces you to tears.

You don’t hear the sound of water gushing out a faucet.

Your eyes blink, but they don't focus. You can’t see.
You’re numb.

So, what’s wrong with you?

You wonder.
The answer:

You are gripped in grief.

It’s time to get out of the house.

But before you step one bunny-slippered foot out that front door, beware -- friendly neighbor is waiting.

It's okay, though, because after reading my top ten tacky things people will say and 10 tips on how you can react to them - like a good girlscout - you will be prepared.

Here they are, starting with the least tacky to the most tacky:

10. How much money did he leave you?
I know what you’re thinking. No one will ask you that question.


They will.
Money questions are paramount on nosey people’s minds -- Soon as news gets out your husband is dead.

They’ll also ask, Did he have insurance? Did he leave a will?
T-A-C-K-Y .
Best response:


In simple language, None of your business.
9. Don’t worry, you’re young. You’ll meet someone else.
On the long list of UGLY, this one rockets to the top.

A new widow needs desperately to preserve her late husband’s memory. Replacing him, even in thought, at this time in her life is her choice.

Best answer:

I am really not up to this conversation, at this time.
Then steal yourself.
Walk away.
8. Can I list your house?
Everyone believes they know what is best for you, dear newly widowed.
Even your next-door friendly realtor.
Selling your home and moving away is at the top of his/her list.
Secretly, I wonder if realtors and funeral directors network.

Best advice:

When you find yourself barraged by FNR *friendly neighbor realtor*, tell him, or her, I am not interested.

If FNR persists, take action.

Contact the realty company that holds his license.
Request your name be removed from their mailing list.
Contact your local police department and file a complaint.
7. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you.
Yikes. Make dust!
Fast, faster, fastest!
6. I’m not really married. My wife and I have an understanding.
Meet this one with a cold stare.
For effect, ask friendly neighbor to, Speak louder, please. Tell him, I’m recording this conversation.

5. Don’t tell my wife, but...
Same response as Number 6, above.
4. I know what you need.
Unless friendly neighbor’s toting a crystal ball, nobody knows what, you, dear newly widowed needs. Not even another widow.
Choose answer number 7, 6, or 5.
3. When are you going to go out? C’mon! It’s been more than (fill in the blank) years!
Put the burden of a response to this question on your friendly neighbor.

Ask: What’s so terrible about being alone?
2. OH MY GOD! I CAN’T TAKE IT! Can I have his watch? Or, some other husbandly possession.
I have 8 wristwatches that belonged to Him. They sit in a shoebox in my dresser.
Best answer: No.
1. I’m going to sue you!

This happened to me.
Best advice: Keep your mouth shut. Hire a lawyer.
Coping with the death of a spouse is difficult.
You, dear newly widowed, may feel overwhelmed, and, unwittingly, you may find yourself volunteering information when what you really want is to be private.
Don’t be afraid -- be prepared.
Read my top ten tacky things people will say.
Practice my ten tips on how to react to them before going out the house, and before you know it, you will see each new day filled with the music of laughter and the sunlight of hope instead of your friends’ and neighbors’ tacky comments and questions.
Griefcase is a nonprofit organization, created for and dedicated to widows, and individuals, going though the grief process. If you or your company would like to make a tax deductible dollar donation, volunteer your time to work on the website, submit your writing, work for fund-raisers, in support, please feel free to contact:

P. O. Box 624
Hartsdale, NY 10530
To learn more about Griefcase and the important work it does, you have permission to visit coming soon.


  1. I lost my husband last month. I have no ideas what my parameters are. I lost 2/3 of my income, have all this stuff and find that the unlikeliest people are vultures. I don't trust anyone.
    I don't have a question. I am just overwhelmed and underpaid.

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