Smart thing that people say

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    We all heard of the stupid things people said at a Shiva R”L or to a childless couple etc. I know that there are smart people out there. Do you have a story to share of how someone said just the right thing when it was assumed that there is no right thing to say?


    When attending a Shiva the Halacha is that one does not say anything until spoken to or brought into a conversation. I have heard the most horrendous things at a Shiva, mainly because people felt uncomfortable keeping quiet or felt a need to ‘make things better’. If you need to say something, it is best to tell an anecdote about the niftar, something that you personally experienced or witnessed. If you didn’t know the niftar, then asking those sitting shiva, please tell me about (e.g.) your father, is an appropriate statement and allows them the option of opening up and beginning the long journey towards nechama. Giving drashos or vortlach about how special the niftar or the family must be will almost always not be appropriate unless you are extremely great. I don’t know if that is helpful


    Sometimes, people just want to be acknowledged how they feel. For example, someone mentions a certain challenge, and the other person replies, that sounds very difficult.


    This is what you wrote in the threads about stupid people.


    Me? I’m outta this one. (That’s the smartest thing I ever said)


    OK, I’ll respond in earnest (WHAT?!?)

    I once wrote someone a really moving piece, a nechamah for the difficult time she was going through. She really thanked me for it. (too personal, don’t want to disclose here).

    I also once came to be menachem a father who had lost a darling daughter r”l, and said that while I cannot fathom nor feel his pain, I’m there just to share in his grief. I expanded on this a bit, I said other soothing, comforting thoughts. He appreciated it, he actually thanked me afterwards.

    There’s a slight advantage over writing, where one has time to properly compose thoughts, emotions, feelings properly into coherent sentences. When talking one cannot edit, delete or rearrange.

    Some people have a knack for always saying the right thing at the right time – ???? ???? ????? ??? ???? ????? ?? ???. A true happiness to be able to accomplish such a feat. No, I’m not NEAR that.


    “There’s a slight advantage over writing, where one has time to properly compose thoughts, emotions, feelings properly into coherent sentences. When talking one cannot edit, delete or rearrange.”

    That doesn’t sound like speaking has an “advantage over writing” to me.


    Randomex: You’re right, it should read “There’s a slight advantage to writing OVER speaking” (or whatever the proper way is). Thanks for pointing it out.

    I don’t always reread and edit everything I write, even though it’s possible and most beneficial.


    So there’s an advantage over rereading?


    When I don’t know what to say, or if I do not know the niftar personally but do know the aveil, I will typically express my deep sadness for the pain and loss they are going through, and (in the case of parental death) that although I was not privileged to have met the niftar, I can see what a wonderful person he/she must have been just by knowing the type of children he produced. In the case of the loss of a child, R”L, there is simply NOTHING that can be said. Sometimes all that can be done is to sit and cry with the parent. NEVER EVER EVER EVER say, “I know how you must feel,” even if YOU suffered an equivalent loss. Each person’s pain is owned by him or her alone. None of us can possibly know what another person feels. We each perceive loss in a different way, despite our commonalities. Even two children who lost the same parent, do not experience the loss in exactly the same way.


    I was at a shiva and it was amazing because people there were doing the right thing: make their pain your own.


    I was recently talking to someone who said they were just diagnosed with ALS. I had no idea what to say. After sitting quietly for a minute, I told him, “You’ve done so many great things for so many people. Someday they’re going to call this “Person X’s disease” instead of “Lou Gerig’s disease” and the whole world will work to fight illnesses in your memory.”


    That does sound very Chizuk worthy. Thanks, Sam, for posting the first example.

    Btw, what is ALS?


    “I know how you must feel” implies that there is a way a person “must feel”.


    ALS is a progressive disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

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