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Nuances around comforting mourners: wishing "long life"?

When you visit someone for shiva, what do you say to the family members? And is there a ‘correct’ response back from the family members?

Background: My partner has had an extended relative die, and we went to prayers/shiva for the relative. At the shiva, my partner said we both should wish “long life” to every family member. I did so, because it’s his family, so his customs. Literally, no I’m sorry or anything just saying “long life”. I was not able to hear how other visitors approached and if they said too “long life”.

I have literally never heard this before, and my usual condolence line is “I’m sorry about X. May his/her memory be for a blessing”. I have also heard variants of “may you be comforted among the mourners of Zion” and “baruch dayen emet”.

My partner is absolutely adamant that “long life” is the correct way to approach mourners (and has never heard of the other phrases.) He is secular (NOOJ) and uncomfortable around death, while I am more religious than he is, though I did not grow up in Judaism. I often care for dying patients and grieving families (primarily Muslim, Hindu, and Christian), and based on my experiences with the dying and grieving, wishing “long life” to mourners seems callous, especially for older people whose spouse has died and young people whose friends have died.

I feel like I am offering them a curse: may you live a long time alone, without this person whom you deeply loved. This is the deepest fear of many mourners I care for: that they have been abandoned, that this grief will go on for ever, and it will be a very long time to live like this.

For peace in the house, I will say whatever my partner wishes me to say to his mourning family members. But can someone please help me understand this? Or the nuances of what lines to say and when?

Bonus, is there a traditional/correct response from the mourner back? (I will likely be a mourner soon, so want to anticipate what I should say if I am wished ‘long life’.)

Thank you. Todah raba.

submitted by /u/strixoccidentalisi
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Source: Reditt