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    #1

    How it feels when...

    Dear teachers,
    I have just received a letter from my American friend, who told me in her letter that a series of unfortunate things happened to her family recently. I plan to say to her in my reply letter "I know how it feels when we lose our loved one." to comfort her, but I am not sure of the structure of "how it feels when...". I know I can instead say "I know it is hard to lose our loved ones.", whose structure I am sure of;however, I like the former better, as really I know how it feels to lose our loved one, for I lost my mother and father 11 years ago and 2 years ago respectively. Losing those we love so much makes us feel desperate and depressed.
    I don't like the expression of "My heart goes out to you" either, for, in my possibly incorrect opinion, this expression is something diplomatic and seems like cold comfort.
    I always want to be accurate in expression. So, please help me to get where I want to be.
    Thanks.
    Richard

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    #2

    Re: How it feels when...

    Hello OMR,
    My heart goes out to you is actually fine.

    I know how it feels to lose a loved one. I know how it feels when we lose someone we love. Either of those would be fine. If her loss was also a parent, you could even say "I know how it feels to lose a parent."

    (I also think that your friend will appreciate your thoughts, even if there are tiny grammatical mistakes, because what is in your heart is more important that the way the words are arranged on the page.)

    Just a little word of caution though -- people don't necessarily feel things the same way. For example, if the death in her family was after a long, painful illness, she may feel differently than someone who lost a parent very suddenly in a car accident. So it may be best to say something like "I know how I felt when I lost my parents, and I can only imagine how you must feel now. You are in my thoughts."
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #3

    Re: How it feels when...

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    Hello OMR,
    My heart goes out to you is actually fine.

    I know how it feels to lose a loved one. I know how it feels when we lose someone we love. Either of those would be fine. If her loss was also a parent, you could even say "I know how it feels to lose a parent."

    (I also think that your friend will appreciate your thoughts, even if there are tiny grammatical mistakes, because what is in your heart is more important that the way the words are arranged on the page.)

    Just a little word of caution though -- people don't necessarily feel things the same way. For example, if the death in her family was after a long, painful illness, she may feel differently than someone who lost a parent very suddenly in a car accident. So it may be best to say something like "I know how I felt when I lost my parents, and I can only imagine how you must feel now. You are in my thoughts."
    Thank you for answering my question. I have to make it clear: Really my American friend lost two loved ones in a quick succession not long ago; I am not talking carelessly. What confuses me a little bit is that I have no idea whether they can still be called her loved ones, as it was her former father-in-law and her former son-in-law that died. Ever since her divorce many years ago, she and her former father-in-law had(Should I use "have" instead? Her former father-in-law died last month.) had a good relationship and frequently visited each other and in her own words, "We are good friends." She felt very bad to lose him and she attended his funeral. In another thread, when her daughter heard the new of her former son-in-law's death in a road accident, her daughter was plunged into a bad mood; and my friend sympathized with her daughter a lot. However, her newly-wed son-in-law found it very hard to understand why his wife was so saddended by the death of someone who now had nothing to do with her.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: How it feels when...

    Oh dear. How sad for everyone.

    And shame on the new husband for not having more sympathy. "Nothing to do with her" is hardly applicable when he was part of the family. I can't say I like my ex-husband very much, but I would still feel very sad if he were killed because of what we once shared.

    Maybe you could say simply "to lose people we care about." That doesn't imply a strong relationship (like a current marriage), but acknowledges that the person is grieving.

    Not very long ago, I wrote in a sympathy card that I wished I had better words to say, but still wanted to extend my sympathies and let the person know that he was in my thoughts. It wasn't very eloquent, but it was heartfelt and I hope the person who received it knew that.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #5

    Re: How it feels when...

    [QUOTE=Barb_D;547732]
    Not very long ago, I wrote in a sympathy card that I wished I had better words to say, but still wanted to extend my sympathies and let the person know that he was in my thoughts. QUOTE]
    Thanks for giving me this further explanation. I am afraid you will agree that in every society there are those who are so selfish that they care about only their own gains and losses. And we will never expect them to do anything beyond that.
    By the way, what is the actual meaning of "he was in my thoughts" in your sentence "Not very long ago, I wrote in a sympathy card that I wished I had better words to say, but still wanted to extend my sympathies and let the person know that he was in my thoughts"? In what writing situations can we say "you are in my thoughts"? Is it only used in a letter of condolence? I remember that about one year ago I made an unforgivable mistake in my letter to my Italian engineer friend due to my inaccurate understanding of "a letter of condolence". I apologized sincerely and was forgiven. But during the whole process, I sweated all over. Ever since then, I have always been careful about how to express myself accurately in English. I will not use anything I am not sure of, especially in my important pieces of writing.
    Thanks in advance.

  3. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: How it feels when...

    Whenever anyone is going through a challenge, or really, anything very emotional. You could say it to someone who is grieving, certainly. It's possible that it would also work with someone who was taking their final exams, or the day she will find out whether she is pregnant, or other situations.

    Really, for most people, the very fact that you wrote will be appreciated, even if your words are not perfect.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #7

    Re: How it feels when...

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    Whenever anyone is going through a challenge, or really, anything very emotional. You could say it to someone who is grieving, certainly. It's possible that it would also work with someone who was taking their final exams, or the day she will find out whether she is pregnant, or other situations.

    Really, for most people, the very fact that you wrote will be appreciated, even if your words are not perfect.
    Thanks a lot.
    Richard

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