New York State Funeral Directors Association

Friend consoling a friend

Talking to someone who has just lost a loved one is never easy.

In fact, many people avoid the situation by staying away or sending a generic card. They are afraid of saying the wrong thing.

While there is no one right way to offer condolences, there are a few mistakes well-meaning people often make.

Learn from others so you don’t make the same errors.

“Modern Death: How Medicine Changed the End of Life” by Haider Warraich, M.D. © 2017 St. Martin's Press

What are my chances?

If you’ve ever heard a negative medical diagnosis, those are four of the first words that come to mind.

What are the chances of survival? Is there treatment; a cure; any hope of long, pain-free days to come? Or will death chance upon you before then?

The answers, as you’ll see in “Modern Death” by Haider Warraich, M.D., rest in a swirl of new achievements.

Police marching during 2017 NYS Police Officers Memorial Ceremony

I wrote a note on a piece of plywood that surrounded what was left of the World Trade Center site back in 2002.

It was about four months after the Sept. 11 attacks. My wife and I went to pay our respects, and we added a note to hundreds of other condolences people left as they waited in line to see the site.

I know I expressed remorse for all those killed – but I didn’t know then that so many more would be lost.

Video: Slaves No More

New York's Capital Region honors, re-buries Colonial-era slaves. Found by accident in an unmarked cemetery, scientists pinpointed their African origin and the community held a wake and funeral.

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SympathyNotes is written to stimulate discussion of death and grief. Opinions do not reflect the views of NYSFDA.

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