Archive for the ‘Loss’ Category

Service of Condolences

Monday, March 18th, 2019


A friend told me that when he was in college another student’s mother died and he didn’t say a word. When his father died and anyone said “I am sorry,” nothing more, it soothed him and he never again ducked from reaching out to a bereaved acquaintance.

Some are afraid or feel awkward about approaching a person who is grieving. This is natural. Try to remember it’s not about you but about them. If they don’t have time to speak with you when you call or if they don’t immediately respond to your email or text or if they don’t acknowledge the card you sent within a reasonable amount of time, you’ve done nothing wrong. Remember: they are adjusting to a life without a loved one. There may be all sorts of pressures on their time in addition to routine obligations at work and at home. And all along the loss and sadness fight for attention.

I don’t know if they still do it but in France mourners wore a black band around their sleeve or a black button in a lapel. I always thought that this was a good idea so that a grouchy salesperson or bus driver might be kind to a customer who holds them up by taking too much time to find a credit card or carfare.

Do you dodge expressing condolences? I hope you don’t have experience relating to death but if so, did you appreciate the slightest acknowledgement of your loss?



Service of Questions and Loss

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

I just lost my dearest friend and companion. Many times daily one of us would ask the other: “what do you think about _______?” In 34 + years we never tired of discussing the news, information we read in books and events and concerns involving the people we knew. Weren’t we lucky? It broke my heart of late when I’d ask and he’d reply “I don’t know.”

Until very recently, since November 2008, he added beautifully crafted often surprising and erudite comments to my twice a week posts. You might have read some of them and enjoyed a glimpse of his remarkable mind, grasp of history and memories of his quirky, colorful life. He signed in as Protius, Lucan, hb, mbj, Horace Peabody, Seneca, Dave Cummings, Charlie S., CKP, Hester Craddock–to name just a few pseudonyms. He rarely if ever signed in as Homer Byington.

So in this brief post I will ask you what I would have asked him:

  • What do you think about the people involved in the college entrance scandal? There were many players from the mastermind Rick Singer and participating parents and children [though some allegedly didn’t know], to the bribed, whether college officials and coaches or SAT administrators. Were the parents really helping their kids in the end even if they’d not been caught? Should the students involved be refused a diploma? Are colleges culpable because they don’t seem to vet students recommended by sports coaches?
  • And what’s with the FAA/Boeing 737 MAX story? Why were we so slow to the table to stop flights? Wall Street Journal reporters wrote: “Since the crash on Sunday, regulators in dozens of countries suspended flights by the single-aisle airliners, including longtime safety partners such as the U.K., Australia and Canada, whose airspace U.S. airlines regularly enter, even during domestic flights.” We didn’t ground the planes until yesterday. And how could Boeing sell a product that had problems and required essential training before it could be flown?

All these years you’ve also been my sounding board. Thank you.

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