“I'm sorry for your trouble”

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 29 March 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:699
  1. Daniel C Riordan, specialist registrar in psychiatry and psychotherapy
  1. St George's Hospital Medical School, London

    My father had been called back to rural Ireland to represent the family at a funeral. I must have been 6 years old and was holding my father's hand as we stood in line to pass the recently bereaved family. I strained to hear what was being whispered to the widow as she shook hands with the people who filed past the front row. It came to our turn, and my father leant across, almost touching the widow's face furrowed with the pain of loss. Five simple words were exchanged: “I'm sorry for …

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