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Published: Saturday, 5/20/2006

Responding to the bereaved

Religion, music, volunteer work, and travel were among the things that helped Sandra Schocket heal after the sudden deaths of her husband and son, but people were probably the greatest source of comfort, says the author of My Life Closed Twice: Surviving a Double Loss.

"There were people who never gave up on me - and sometimes not the people I'd expect," she says.

"I think everyone wants to help, but they don't know how," Ms. Schocket observes. Here are some of her suggestions for how you can help people who have experienced a tragedy:

●Ask if there's something you can do, but don't give up if he or she says "no." "People are sometimes shy about asking for help," Ms. Schocket points out.

●Think of a specific way to help: Suggest taking a walk or going out to dinner or a ball game. Help with a chore or run an errand. "Listen to what the need is," she says.

She also has compiled a list of things not to say:

●"You're lucky you have other children."

●"Your father lived a long life."

●"It was a blessing she died."

●"God takes the best."

●"He's in a better place."

●"You're young. You will a) remarry. b) have more children c) start a new life."

●"I know how you are feeling."

●"Be glad you had her as long as you did."

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