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Bereavement

A “good innings?”

(74 Posts)
MawBroon Fri 26-Jan-18 08:41:13

How often have we heard this phrase or something similar?
“Sorry to hear [insert name here] has died/passed away, but he/she had a good innings
Recently I had a comment (expression of sympathy) re losing paw in November which went on to say “ but as he must have been one of the early transplant patients, he did well......” etc etc
He wasn’t actually, and despite an “extra” 20 years’ “reprieve” it doesn’t lessen the impact (or indeed the fact that for me, his death is premature ) . 🤔
Somehow it bothers me and I will be more careful about what I say myself in future.

MawBroon Fri 26-Jan-18 08:51:35

I should add that the comment above came from the husband of the friend who emailed me with the following,
Perhaps we can meet up when we return and things start to calm down for you. Never back to normal I’m afraid as you’ll have “no one to do nothing with” (A friend recently widowed said this)Talk soon
I wasn't sure how to respond!
Perhaps I am just being over sensitive or perhaps it says more about them than about me? sad

Jane10 Fri 26-Jan-18 09:01:47

It's a bit blatant and maybe too soon and too direct but somehow it sounds sincere and kindly meant. Maybe you are being a bit sensitive but you're allowed to be!
Older people seem to be better at this sort of thing. At least they took the trouble to write. When my sister was widowed in her 30s people she had thought of as friends literally crossed the road to avoid her. I asked one of them to at least contact her but was told that they couldn't as they didn't know what to say!
It's a rotten time in your life Maw and I'm so sorry that it's happened so soon. flowers

Teetime Fri 26-Jan-18 09:03:02

Three of my firnds have been widowed recently- all three husbands died in their early sixties and I hope I have never said anything like that to any of them. How horrible that must feel. I am so sorry. flowers

Teetime Fri 26-Jan-18 09:03:16

friends sorry!!!

eazybee Fri 26-Jan-18 09:09:44

We are not used to talking about death, and expressions of sympathy can appear insensitive and inept. You have to take them in the spirit in which they are intended, that of reaching out to offer comfort, however clumsily they are phrased.
Your friend is speaking from her experience of widowhood, and suggesting something practical in an attempt to alleviate your perceived loneliness. Take it; it is kindly meant.

gillybob Fri 26-Jan-18 09:11:33

I had to read the paragraph in italics a few times to fully understand it mawbroon but wonder if the husband of the friend meant what my dad always says which is that.... he misses having someone to do nothing at all with, someone just being there at home.
Having lost my mum in 2016 (she was only 74) he is now managing to get out and about a bit (he looked after her for many years as she was a dialysis patient and had bone cancer too) he sees “the lads” 2-3 times a week, he goes to watch football on a Saturday and I see him /take him out a couple of times a week too (shopping,coffee etc), I take my grandchildren to see him every week and we include him in virtually everything we do as a family but he still misses someone just being there. Does that make sense?

I really don’t count 70’s as “being a good innings” especially considering my poor mum was very ill for the last 12 years of her life. Now my gran died just a few months before my mum and she was 99.... and in my opinion that’s a bloody “good innings” smile

Maggiemaybe Fri 26-Jan-18 09:12:13

I think they were both just trying to be supportive, and the words were kindly meant. They'd be sorry to know they've upset you. It's often been said that the worst thing we can say to a bereaved person is nothing, but it's very hard to know what words will help and it's very easy to give offence. Which is why so many of us stick to mumbling the usual platitudes.

lemongrove Fri 26-Jan-18 09:13:59

Maw I agree with you that it seems thoughtless for people to say that, crass even.Paw wasn’t old enough for the good innings comment, especially as he was ill for a long time as well.
As Jane says, the email was surely meant kindly, but a bit direct.I would never say the ‘good innings’ comment to somebody who has been recently bereaved, even if privately
saying it ( to somebody else) but only for somebody who had died that was really old.
I do think that most of us find it hard to say the right thing around bereavement though, trying to hit the right note isn’t easy.💐Try not to be upset about it.

Jane10 Fri 26-Jan-18 09:20:12

My sister said the best thing anyone could say to her was 'how are you?'
It indicates concern but leaves it to the bereaved person to respond in whatever way they want to.
What do you think MawBroon?

MawBroon Fri 26-Jan-18 09:21:05

Thank you, I am probably being over sensitive as they are not intrinsically unkind people (if a little smug I am afraid) he is very “hail fellow well met” if you know what I mean.
Need to let it go.
But memo to self - just express sympathy in future, refer to the person’s qualities, do not qualify the bereavement with a “but...” and if intending to meet for lunch or coffee don’t make it a “we must do lunch sometime “ invitation !

kittylester Fri 26-Jan-18 09:21:09

I too think it was kindly meant, Maw. I think that one of the hardest things would be to not have some one just being there! My nan said that one of the worst things about being a widow was thinking 'i must tell Tom that when I get home' and then realising that he would never be there to tell things to ever again.

I agree about a good innings being entirely inappropriate.

My sister in law's mum died yesterday so I will watch this thread with interest.

Anniebach Fri 26-Jan-18 09:23:41

I think they were being kind Maw, when I was widowed I was told by an elderly widow - you are young, you will marry again , she was very lonely after a long and happy marriage,

Eglantine21 Fri 26-Jan-18 09:42:01

People perhaps say what they think would comfort them if they were in a similar position. I just hope he does carry through with the lets meet up Maw. People say it, but then somehow don't.....

I found the religious ones the hardest, since I had no belief that my husband was just somewhere else. Especially that one about just being in another room.

I can look back now and laugh (somewhat ironically!) at the well meant comments.
At the funeral "You look lovely. Everyone says you'll be married again in six months."

Perhaps the worst one came from a vicar.

"Ah well, chin up, knees down."

Greenfinch Fri 26-Jan-18 09:57:18

I do agree with Jane10.I had an appointment with my hairdresser yesterday whose DH had died just before Christmas. I asked my DH what I should say to her and he said ask how she is.It was good: she explained exactly how she felt and it gave her the opportunity to change the subject when she wanted too.I basically just listened.

Grandma70s Fri 26-Jan-18 09:58:12

I was widowed when I was 40. No-one ever crossed the road to avoid me. In fact they would cross the road to talk to me. They just said what they could, usually a version of “I’m so sorry”. I commented about this to a friend, and she said she thought it was partly because I had been so open myself about what was happening. My husband, the same age as me, had cancer.

Some years before, I had a friend whose beloved brother had been killed in a climbing accident. I remember we once bumped into some friends of hers who clearly were embarrassed and didn’t know what to say. When they’d gone she said “You have to help them” - that is, ease their embarrassment by saying something yourself.

I remember being irritated by some of the letters I received after my husband’s death. They never seemed to say the right thing. The fact is, there is no “right thing”. How can there be? You just have to remind yourself that they are doing their very best.

In my case, the thing that annoyed me most was when people said that I would probably marry again. Why on earth did they think I would want to?

annodomini Fri 26-Jan-18 10:23:52

When I was in my 30s, a friend came round to spend the afternoon. She had recently lost a badly deformed baby at birth and at that age I simply didn't know how to speak about it or to express my feelings for her. I shudder now to think how I avoided the 'elephant in the room' that day. I was brought up in a household where death was never spoken of. It took me many years to get over this inhibition. Other cultures manage it much better.

Nonnie Fri 26-Jan-18 10:26:53

Just off to the funeral of an elderly relative, will think carefully before I speak.

When DS died we were fortunate to only hear from thoughtful people except one and I am still smarting that they assumed he committed suicide! I mailed back with 'don't make any assumptions' and they didn't respond!

annsixty Fri 26-Jan-18 10:42:41

It's rather like saying " it's a blessing in disguise " when someone has been suffering.
Try not to feel hurt Maw people are embarrassed by death and struggle to know how to react.

OldMeg Fri 26-Jan-18 10:48:19

Very few people are deliberately cruel. Most are hunting around for some words of comfort and sadly come up with these phrases. The truth is there’s nothing to be said that can make the situation easier to bear, but saying nothing doesn’t seem right either.

Try not to feel irritated flowers

Nonnie Fri 26-Jan-18 10:50:25

Why can't people put themselves in others' shoes? Why is it about how they feel? Those who avoid talking about it are not thinking of the bereaved, they are thinking of themselves. So many thoughtless comments.

When my brother died, aged 19, my aunt said that at least my mother had the other 4 of us. Think she felt differently when he son was killed in a road accident just after he started at uni.

When I had miscarriages and a still birth I got all the 'at least' comments. It doesn't help.

Fennel Fri 26-Jan-18 10:55:32

I find it difficult to know what to say, or write, to someone who is recently bereaved.
Does it partly depend on the time since the death?
If face to face, I usually just ask questions and let the person talk (if they want to). In a letter , recall happy memories of the dead person.

annsixty Fri 26-Jan-18 10:58:37

My father died when I was 11 and in the second term at Grammar School.
I went back to school the day after the funeral and one of my Aunts wrote a letter for me to take to the headmistress , she read it in silence, and without looking at me said, who is your form teacher? I told her and she dismissed me. I will never forget that.

mumofmadboys Fri 26-Jan-18 11:26:46

Hopefully pastoral care in schools has improved since then Ann

annsixty Fri 26-Jan-18 11:46:12

It was 69 years ago last week.
No sort of pastoral care at all in those days.
Counselling was unheard of, it was 4 years after the end of the war, many had suffered far worse.