Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

How to offer condolence…what I learned from watching my father

Susan Tweit Pink Peony
Photo by Susan Tweit

From witnessing my father at ceremonies surrounding death, I've learned a new approach to being at these events.

He is completely natural. He visits. He chats. He may even make a joke. He tells stories. These are transmissions of comfort through the transmission of culture.

I have never heard him utter any of the classic phrases of condolence. Yet, all the time, he is actively condoling, comforting, and providing companionship.

This is what is needed in times of loss: a human response from the heart, not a canned response from a book.

My father visits during a visitation with no false solemnity. As children we are comforted in our mother's arms. As adults, we are held in the arms of community, extended in love.

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