By Annette Gonzalez —

My parents died within five months of one another.  This was a most difficult time in my life, and I was looking to family and friends for strength and comfort.

At my parents’ funerals, people would say things to me that were of no comfort. In fact, some of their words made me feel worse.  I’m sure that these people did not want to be insensitive; it’s just difficult to know what to say.  Sometimes the right words of comfort elude us.  I believe at times, it is appropriate to say nothing.

I remember people telling me what a good life my father and mother had led, how they were in a better place, and that their time had come.  I didn’t want to hear any of these observations, even if they were true statements.  I wanted my father to live forever; I wanted my mother to live forever.

If you feel the need to say something to someone who has just lost a parent, I hope the following two lists of comments will assist you:

Five Things to Say

* I understand that you are in pain. Let me know if I can help you.

* No matter how old your parent is, I know the death is difficult.

* Even though your mother/father was elderly, I understand that you always want him (or her) to be around for a longer time.

* Even though your parents were sick, we are almost never prepared for the reality of the death.

* Take your time in grieving; there is no time limit.

Five Things Not to Say

* He (or she) was old.

* He (or she) had a good life.

* His (or her) time had come.

* This too shall pass.

* You will get over it in a couple of months

No one knows the depth of the loss, even if one has lost a parent. We should all be aware that our comments can console, or add to the pain, so we should think before we speak.

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Annette Gonzalez

Annette Gonzalez is a lifelong Floridian and was raised in West Tampa, a Latin neighborhood. As a child, she was nurtured in this cultural environment and it influenced her desire to be a writer, speaker, and storyteller. She graduated from the University of South Florida in 1970 with a B.A. degree in sociology. She married Terry DeLisle and they have two sons, Jared and Jacques. In February 2006, when Annette struggled with coping with the loss of her mother, she began documenting her feelings. Five months later, her father passed away. This is when she began to write and speak publicly about her parents’ deaths. Annette believes that we need to treasure our parents while they are alive and honor them when they have passed.

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