My friend’s father-in-law recently died. It came on suddenly. It wasn’t supposed to happen that way. They weren’t prepared. I wonder, when it comes to losing someone we love, if we’re ever really prepared.

The hole that’s left while we are mourning seems like an endless chasm, and yet it’s the perfect size for kindness. Kindness shown through phone calls, flowers, shared memories and stories that come to life only after the living are gone.

My friend says she and her family were tremendously blessed by one of those stories, sent from a man they had never met.

“Yesterday morning before we left for the funeral, my husband received an email from his mother, sharing a comment made on the newspaper website in conjunction with the obituary. I guess comments and photos may be uploaded onto their site for the family to view, just as it is on the funeral home’s site. The following comment was left:

‘I only met Larry once in my life, when I was a 12-year-old boy who loved trains. Larry was working in Jackson, Ohio, and was kind enough to give my brother and me a ride in the locomotive as he and the crew switched the yard, back in 1983. I remember him as a kind man. He sure created a lasting memory with me; giving a young rail fan a ride in the cab! My dad took a picture of us with Larry the next morning before he left with the train back to Springfield. I saw a posting about Larry’s death and I thought his face looked familiar from the picture I had.

My sympathies for your loss.’

“The kindness that my father-in-law showed this man when he was a young boy was typical of the man Larry was. He would show kindness but never ask for accolades to accompany it. No one ever knew of this kindness until he passed. This was such a precious memory for our family to receive.

“In my mind, Larry’s kindness was not the only one exhibited. The second came from the man who left this story. He did not have to go onto the site and share this memory. As a matter of fact, how often do people shy away from doing exactly that simply out of embarrassment or lack of time? Yet, our family could not have asked for a more precious gift in a time of need. My husband’s mother even printed the story and photo out and had it sitting on a table by the casket, showing how very much this meant to her and the family.

“To me, kindness is God’s love walking itself out through the hands and feet of His people. This man was certainly God’s hands and feet to our family during this time of saying goodbye.”

Kindness can’t take away the pain, but even in the smallest doses, it does act as a powerful balm until we are able to find our balance once again.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Friday. You can visit Nicole at