HOW TO CONSOLE
Your visit to the mourner at home is more than a courtesy call. In Jewish tradition,
the moment is too critical for mere courtesy. It calls for consolation. During
this brief visit you could bring comfort to someone in need, or you could act
as just another spectator to tragedy. The mandate of our humanity and of our
religion is that we bring sensitivity and empathy to those who mourn. The following
are suggestions for helping implement your natural healthy feelings during such
WHEN VISITING THE MOURNER
In Judaism, we believe that your very presence in the. mourner's home marks
the beginning of consolation. If you feel uncomfortable, know that it is understandable
and perfectly natural.
- Let the mourner begin to talk and set the tone, especially in sensitive
situations such as suicide or young deaths or guilt-ridden grief.
- Listen considerably - not as though you are taking a breather before beginning
to talk again. It is better to be silent than overly talkative.
- Show concern for the mourner's well-being. Your face should wear a mien
of seriousness, not necessarily sadness.
- Ideally, your conversation should not be distracting, but therapeutic. The
mourner's "small talk" should trigger your interest as though it
is of great import.
- Speak of the departed. It may appear to be hurtful, but in fact it helps
the mourner to unburden himself. Recall the major events in his life, his
opinions on important matters, the quality of his relationships.
- Levity may bring you relief - but it is inappropriate for the mourners.
However, humorous anecdotes of the deceased spoken respectfully are quite
- Do not dwell on your own mourning experiences as it may appear to belittle
the grief of the newly-bereaved.
- Do not offer gratuitous psychological advice.
- Conclude your words of consolation with hope that the values of the departed
will be incorporated by his relatives and friends; that the sunlight of health
and happiness will shine once again on the family members; that this tragedy
will turn into an experience of personal growth; and that the behavior of
his survivors will reflect on the worth of the departed.
In order to obviate fumbling with cumbersome goodbyes, some people conclude
their visit with a traditional formula of consolation: "May God comfort
you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Other good-byes are:
"Please accept my sincerest condolences. I wish that sharing your grief
could remove it. I will call to see if I can be of help:'
"I know 's memory will always be with you.
I have many fond memories of "
"I hope that this will be the last such sadness, and that we will share
many happy occasions together."
Reprinted by permission from: National Institute for Jewish Hospice
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