How do I speak to my brother who just lost his 12-year-old son in an accident? He and his wife are devastated and I want to make sure I choose the right words.
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
The Bible tells about Job who suffered terrible afflictions – he lost his home, his family died, and he was stricken with disease. When Job's friends came to console him, they stayed for an entire week without saying anything. They simply sat there and empathized.
So instead of thinking about what you can say to your brother, just try to feel what he is feeling. That will communicate much deeper than words. Because in truth, there probably are no words that can console him – at least not while the tragedy is so fresh.
This approach is codified in Jewish law, which says that when you go visit a mourner, you should not speak until the mourner says something first. Just wait until they say something and then try to be as understanding as possible. Let them express how they feel.
In addition, try to help out with everyday things like cooking, shopping, etc. Doing so will relieve them of any distractions, and enable them to fully process their grief.
For more, see "A Practical Guide to Paying a Shiva Call" - http://www.aish.com/jl/l/dam/48970361.html
May your family know no more sorrow.