One of my main goals in supporting those who have lost loved ones is to refrain from saying something stupid. Something insensitive. While giving my love and support. We've all heard them.
God only gives you...
God needed an angel...
I can't think of all the stupid things I have heard, but I am sure you have a few yourself.(and no doubt I have not succeeded) My friends and colleagues have been hit hard time after time for the past 2 years with shocking, unexpected, out of time loss. I have just returned from the visitation for a young man who disappeared 2 years ago after leaving his house without his seizure medication. His body was lost for over 2 years. And of course, even an expected death after a hard fought illness that devastates the body and mind is still so difficult for loved ones.
Many years ago my little niece, aged 4 at the time, received a terminal diagnosis. My son was 3, I had to study and learn how to deal with impending death and loss of someone like one's own, of someone like a sister to my son, of someone so small ravaged by cells that seemed so evil. I was forced to learn to deal as I had not been taught while growing up. Growing up it was "children have no business" with the business of death. I made a few regrettable decisions based on that rearing. I had to deal because I had to help my son. I read Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, I talked, I took him to therapy in advance when he woke up one morning with his hair pulled out and laying on his pillow. He was only three and felt the fear without being told. My niece lived 4 years and the last bit was horrifying. I was allowed to make her dress and the dress her little sister wore to the funeral. I have always been grateful to my sister in law for allowing me to make those dresses. I picked her up from school on the very last day she ever attended, I remember clearly the song playing as I drove down the drive to gather her up. The mental exhaustion after that was unbelievable. Another niece was murdered at age 8 and I had to stand by my baby sister because our mother would not. I had to be the mom my mom could not be. The very next year a student had a brother murdered and I remembered saying I know how that is and talk to me any time. The awful things that happen in one's life give you empathy for the awful things that happen in the lives of others.
Today I feel like I am reeling from all this. Last year I thought we needed a grief group at school for the adults.. maybe that is not a bad idea.
I would count the major losses for my colleagues, my students, my friends, but I would miss some.