What Do I Say?

I woke up this morning to unbelievable tragic news.  Unimaginable news that left a friend of mine, alone, losing her three precious daughters and her parents in a house fire early Christmas day.  I can’t get her and them out of my mind.  Feeling such loss for her and trying hard to make some sense of “how” can something like this happen?  Not how did the fire happen, right now those questions seem irrelevant, but how can someone’s life be challenged to a degree that surviving this and moving on can even be possible?  If there is a God…how can he or she allow this to happen?   I normally am a fatalist and believe that things happen for reasons, but this one…I can’t even begin to understand.  The utter devastation of her losing all that matters to her is painful for everyone who hears this story.  I’m at a loss.  Searching for anything, a thought, a prayer, an experience that can bring some comfort to her. Some hope to live on.  Something to hang on to and hope she can move forward one day at a time.  I don’t know what that is and need help to find it.  I need to find it to help her.  I need help from others who have different experiences and can provide some needed words of wisdom I can learn form and in turn share with her.

 Words that might bring comfort, words that might say “I understand”.  My reality and many of us, who know her, don’t understand or even know how to be helpful for what will be a long, difficult and painful recovery.  I have lived through some loss, but nothing like this and I don’t know what to say, other than, I’m here and I care.

If you read this and you or someone you know can provide some advice, please send it my way and I will look for a way to help her through what is the most, difficult and painful time in her life.  Thank you.


  1. Anne Smithson says:

    Francine this is a terrible tragic event and no words will be heard due to the extreme magnitude of this. What can be said, nothing. The most you can do is just be there to listen and comfort. Sometimes there are no words but a physical presence of support can speak volumes. My deepest sympathy, Anne

  2. Jamie Mooney says:

    Francine – other than assuring her that you are there for her now and in the future, there is so little you can say. I will share something written by Blaise Pascal that I recently came across that helps direct us to the present, which is all we have. Hope this helps:

    – We never keep to the present. We recall the past; we anticipate the future as if we found it too slow in coming and we are trying to hurry it up, or we recall the past as if to stay its rapid flight. We are so unwise that we wander about in times that do not belong to us, and do no think of the only one that does; so vain that we dream of times that are not and blindly flee the only one that is. The fact is that the present usually hurts.


  3. Francine, Ralph and I heard this on the news and could never imagine it was someone you knew. Not that it even matters, it is a tragedy beyond words or comprehesion whomever it is.
    I don’t know that there are any words that can offer comfort or hope. I think it is a personal journey, a process that no one knows the outcome. That is what I have learned in experiencing loss, and somehow we must focus on the memories we have in our hearts. All I would do is let her know you are there for her in any capacity. N.

  4. My dear Francine – I know I’m weighing in on this belatedly – when I lost my parents (a FAR less tragic circumstance) I KNEW you were there for me and that was great comfort in itself. No words had to be spoken. Equally as important, I knew you would be there for me moving forward and getting past the initial grief. Making sure your friend has the knowledge that you are — and will be –there for her now and through the coming phases of her journey, will be a great comfort. I say this as someone who is so blessed to be your friend.

    A thought (and I’m probably not the first or last to suggest this) is that the place where the children last lived, laughed and loved, be turned into a park with a playground and a garden do they will live on through other children and blossom again and again.
    Love you. Susan

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