I read the obituaries nearly every day.

Most faces and names that appear are unfamiliar to me. It becomes almost repetitive to read each one: name, death date, birth date, survivors and funeral details. Sometimes there are extra bits sprinkled in, like their life achievements or memberships. Most of the time, though, I don’t have a clue who the person is, and I simply move on to another block of text on the page.

But every now and then, I do know the person, or I know their family. It’s those times I recall the gravity of the word “died.”

Yes, “died.” Not passed away or dearly departed. They died.

It’s easy to disassociate from the gravity of a death when you’re not related. It’s also easy to try to smooth over it with those soft alternatives to the D-word.

Does that make their death any easier, though?

I’m personally guilty of walking on eggshells at a funeral –– you don’t know when or if someone is going to erupt in tears. You also don’t want to insult anyone or worsen their emotional state. You’re there to comfort them in their time of grieving, after all.

But there are times actions with good intentions don’t come across as pleasant.

My grandmother (Cline) and I were talking the other day about her pastor in Florida, a man who lost his son to a motorbike accident. Some of those trying to comfort him often repeated the phrase, “At least you’ve still got your daughter.”

It’s faintly reminiscent of the ideology that life could be worse. But things can always be worse.

Telling someone to be grateful for what they’ve got left isn’t comforting. If anything, it makes them feel even worse. They’ve got enough to deal with as it is.

I’ve been fortunate –– my parents and both sets of grandparents are still around. Well, that is, except for my mom’s father, Herb Moorman. He died before I was born. (Grandma Moorman remarried the man I’ve always known as Grandpa.) But the stories Herb left behind have cycled through family reunions ever since.

The same goes for other relatives I never met, like my great-grandmother and great-grandfather (Silvers) on my dad’s side. My grandmother’s eyes shined brightly earlier his week as she spoke to me, “Oh, they would’ve loved you.”

There are times, as I’m driving home after a long chat with her, I find myself on the verge of tears at the thought of life without her, without my grandparents or parents.

The older you get, the more people you lose, right?

If only we could encase our loved ones in a timeless bubble and stop them from growing too old. But nothing can live forever … in that sense.

The stories we leave behind –– the memories –– are what keep us alive.

I may not have met Grandpa Herb, but I do know how lovely it is to see that soft smile my mom gives whenever she and Dad talk about him.

This is a reminder to check in on those who have lost a loved one. If you knew a grieving person’s deceased relative, friend or colleague, talk about them. Share stories you recall or things about them you adored. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since they died. Highlight the good.

Because, after it’s all said and done, memories are the only valuable remnants of the deceased we’ve got left.