Hax: A simple note of condolence

The Washington PostMarch 4, 2014 

While I’m away, readers give the advice.

On a perfect thing to say when you don’t know what to say:

Carolyn: The nicest handwritten note I received from a pupil read, “Mrs. (K.), I don’t know what to say in light of your recent loss, but I was taught always to say something in such a case, so, ’I’m sorry.’ ” I still have it 17 years later. It was such a small gesture, but the kindest of all.


On finding compassion for the awkward neighbor kid:

Carolyn: Parents of young children often look harshly at the behavior of older children out of inexperience. Much like childless couples who judge the parenting of others, parents of 5-and-unders may not realize their little sweeties will be 9 someday too, and 9-year-olds are awkward and just learning to handle social skills with much independence. A kid may be a brat, or he may just be not acting his best in your yard. Having friends in different stages of parenting can be a treasured source of learning experiences.


On “Are you dating/getting married/having children/having another child”-type questions:

Carolyn: A friend once suggested the greatest reply to all loaded questions: “It is on the to-do list.” I use it frequently.


On the prevalence of sexual assault:

Carolyn: The Jan. 7, 2014, column included a lovely, supportive letter to a rape survivor that also stated, “I’ve never been raped nor do I think I know anyone who has been.”

YES YOU DO. Sexual assault and sexual violence is visited on 1/4 to 1/3 of the women in this country. Saying you don’t know anyone who has survived sexual assault is willful blindness. Implying this is unusual also inadvertently distances and isolates the survivor.

These survivors might be your daughter, mother, colleague, boss, running partner, personal trainer, taxi driver.

It is statistically impossible that you don’t know any.


Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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