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by Abigail Van Buren

Daughter Takes Offense at Condolences After Father's Death

DEAR ABBY: My dad recently passed away. It was unexpected. Many people have sent condolences, which was very thoughtful. My problem is, I'm an atheist, and many of them have said things like "He's in a better place now."

I don't mind the prayers accompanied with the condolences. I believe everyone's beliefs should be respected, and the prayers are heartfelt good wishes. I have a huge problem, however, with people basically telling me that Dad is better off dead than alive. That's preposterous! My father is better off here, laughing with his family, enjoying life and playing with his grandchildren.

How do I respond to those people without sounding snarky? I have been biting my tongue so I won't let them know how much it offends me, but I really think people should know that those words in particular are just horrible. -- GRIEVING DAUGHTER

DEAR GRIEVING: I'm printing your letter because you are not the first grieving family member to have shared those sentiments with me. But please understand that the subject of death makes many people very uncomfortable, and they don't know what the comforting thing to say is. Readers, it's sufficient to say, "I heard the sad news. I'm so very sorry for your loss." (Period.)

Read more in: Death | Etiquette & Ethics