The recent death of Indiana football coach Terry Hoeppner is an absolute tragedy. Unfortunately, it has provoked the familiar litany of press-release mourning:
The Indiana AD Rick Greenspan said
, "This is a truly sad day for our community and all of our thoughts and prayers are with the Hoeppner family and to those whose lives he has touched."
So many times we hear this increasingly trite phrase:
-- Upon the death of a Marine
("I extend my deepest thoughts and prayers to his family at this time." -Senator Olympia Snowe)
-- After a burst boiler at a rubber plant
("First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with (Evans))
-- In the wake of the drowning of an 11 year old boy
("Accidents can truly happen," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.")
I'm not trying to minimize the impact of these events or their tragic implications, quite the contrary. I am baffled that people, in a time when families are clinging to every word they hear and trying to pick up the pieces after a tragedy, succumb to laziness and use a virtually meaningless phrase.
I remember in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, every politician discussed how his/her "thoughts and prayers are with the families." This took 2 seconds.
Why couldn't someone, when asked, try to say something
meaningful, like, "I truly cannot imagine what these people are going through. It is unspeakable pain. I wish there was something I could say or do to improve the situation, but I just can't. I'm going to try to make sure the families have the resources they need, both emotionally and financially, and work to try to prevent something like this from happening."
"I just don't know what to say."
But "thoughts and prayers"? All it shows is that you have neither thought nor prayed about the grief you're trying to assuage.