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Author Topic: How do I respond?
TurquoiseGirl
The "Was on Sale" Song


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I found out this weekend that some neighbors' 3 week old baby died. Evidently, he (the baby) had problems since birth and was not expected ever to live without life support, but still. I am totally at a loss on what to say when I see my neighbors. I cannot fathom how they must be feeling or what I could say that does not seem tepid ("I'm so sorry", for example, seems too little) or assumes too much. What do you say to someone who has had such a blow, particularly around this time of the year?

Any suggestions?

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There are people who drive really nice cars who feel that [those] cars won't be as special if other people drive them too. Where I come from, we call those people "selfish self-satisfied gits." -Chloe

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Neffti Noel
We Three Blings


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How very sad. I would suggest that you let them know that you are thinking of them with a card or small bunch of flowers. Freesias are very appropriate, being small and pretty.

Is it their first baby? It's important to recognise that they are, and will continue to be, parents despite their loss.

Whatever you do, don't worry that you might make things worse by approaching them. Any gesture of concern and kindness will probably be appreciated more than you can imagine.

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GenYus
Away in a Manager's Special


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Try to remember that there are no magic words that will make their pain go away. So don't rack your brain trying to figure out the best words to say. Just say what feels best. I know you are smart enough to avoid the stupid cliches like "I know how you feel." and "It is God's will." A heartfelt "I'm so sorry for your loss." is probably best.

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IIRC, it wasn't the shoe bomber's loud prayers that sparked the takedown by the other passengers; it was that he was trying to light his shoe on fire. Very, very different. Canuckistan

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Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Neffti and GenYus are both very wise.

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How homophobic do you have to be to have penguin gaydar? - Lewis Black

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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I don't imagine the English language, or any other combination of languages spoken at any time on the planet have the words appropriate for expressing sorrow at the loss of someone's child. I second GenYus' suggestion.

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"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."--George Bernard Shaw

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Buckleupp
Away in a Manager


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It doesn't matter what you say, just that you said something. Don't try to ease their sorrow; you likely can't. Just a card with a short statement saying you're thinking about them.

If you want to do something more, I would recommend making specific offers of help, rather than saying "If there's anything I can do..." For instance, you might offer to do their grocery shopping this week, help shuttle people to/from the airport, etc.

I would also recommend making these offers of help, and expressing your sympathy, in a few weeks rather than now. They are probably being flooded with support and calls and cards...in a month or so when it trails off and people call less often, the reality sinks in and people need help and love even more.

Just some suggestions, based on my experiences with grief. God bless you for wanting to help them.

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HA! That's so funny I forgot to laugh...excluding that first Ha. -Stewie Griffin

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TurquoiseGirl
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Another neighbor came by with a card and collected some money. This is not their only child. In fact, when the neighbor collecting told me that their baby died, I was terrified that it was the very cute toddler who loves to pet The Boutros.

I like the idea of fresias. The other thing I am wondering is if it would be possible to plant a tree in the baby's memory at the park at the end of the cul-de-sac.

My immediate, Minnesota Lutheran, response is to bring them a casserole.

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There are people who drive really nice cars who feel that [those] cars won't be as special if other people drive them too. Where I come from, we call those people "selfish self-satisfied gits." -Chloe

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Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by TurquoiseGirl:
I like the idea of fresias. The other thing I am wondering is if it would be possible to plant a tree in the baby's memory at the park at the end of the cul-de-sac.

TGirl, that would be a lovely gesture. It would be especially nice for the older sibling, I think.

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How homophobic do you have to be to have penguin gaydar? - Lewis Black

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frogpond
Jingle Sales


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quote:
Originally posted by TurquoiseGirl:

I like the idea of fresias. The other thing I am wondering is if it would be possible to plant a tree in the baby's memory at the park at the end of the cul-de-sac.


The tree would be very nice if that is possible. We were given a ginko sapling in memory of my brother that my family really appreciated.

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So many books, so little time.

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Nick Theodorakis
We Three Blings


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Nothing wrong with a sincere "I'm so sorry." Trying to force something more than is natural may seem a bit stilted or phony. If you know them well enough to offer anything, you could always go the "if there's anything I can do..." route, but don't say it if you don't mean it. You have a good heart; if you say what comes natural to you you will say the right thing.

Nick

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ThistleSoftware
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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Ann Landers always said you should offer to do something specific for those who are grieving- say how sorry you are, and then offer to cook them some food, or mow their lawn, or any little thing that might make their day to day lives easier. This also takes the burden of asking for help away so that all they have to do is say "yes, a casserole would be nice" or "yes, it would be nice to not have to mow the lawn."

I agree with Neffti that you shouldn't worry about making it worse. I'd like to add that I don't think it's too small to just say you're sorry for their loss. Getting into anything more runs the risk of being presumptuous.

ETA: I took forever to actually hit reply and was spanked several times.

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Officially Heartless

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nurple
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by TurquoiseGirl:
The other thing I am wondering is if it would be possible to plant a tree in the baby's memory at the park at the end of the cul-de-sac.

I think that is a lovely idea.

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"You better respect the Rap or the Rap won't respect you." Ledatru

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TurquoiseGirl
The "Was on Sale" Song


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I think I will suggest the tree idea to a couple of other neighbors. Would it be better in their yard or in the park?

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There are people who drive really nice cars who feel that [those] cars won't be as special if other people drive them too. Where I come from, we call those people "selfish self-satisfied gits." -Chloe

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Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by ThistleSoftware:
Ann Landers always said you should offer to do something specific for those who are grieving- say how sorry you are, and then offer to cook them some food, or mow their lawn, or any little thing that might make their day to day lives easier. This also takes the burden of asking for help away so that all they have to do is say "yes, a casserole would be nice" or "yes, it would be nice to not have to mow the lawn."

Good advice, and I would add, on a general note, that if you know the grieving well enough, it might even be appropriate to just jump in and do something. After my father's death a good friend, when asked to deliver my snowboots (that seemed important at the time), called off work and spent the day at my mother's house, answering the phone and door, washing dishes, doing laundry, etc.

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How homophobic do you have to be to have penguin gaydar? - Lewis Black

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frogpond
Jingle Sales


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quote:
Originally posted by TurquoiseGirl:
I think I will suggest the tree idea to a couple of other neighbors. Would it be better in their yard or in the park?

I'd say in the park in case they ever move - that way it could still be visited. But then, it might be best to ask them what they would prefer.

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So many books, so little time.

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Neffti Noel
We Three Blings


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I second the park. It would help to recognise that the community shares in the loss of the child.

Personally I would wait until after they have held their own funeral or memorial before taking definite action on this, though, just in case the family is already planning a tree.

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guruwan2b
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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I would think the park would be better. Not so much an constant reminder but close enough to visit when the mood strikes.

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Too much of this navel gazing and we'll disappear up our own arses.
Danvers Carew

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LongTallBlonde
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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You mentioned that they have a toddler. I think that if you are well known to them that offering to take the toddler for a few hours a day might be nice. My rationale is that they (the Parents) probably don't want (or can't) enjoy the holiday time. By offering to take the toddler, you can let the toddler experience the holidays without the pain of having the parents go through it. The toddler doesn't really know what is going on and he/she wants to enjoy Santa Claus just like everyone else. Your offer to take her for a few hours will enable her to do that.

I also like the idea of a tree.

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A woman needs a man like fish needs a bicycle....People don't care how much you know, but they know how much you care.

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Jenn
Layaway in a Manger


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Perhaps (if you're available) offer to babysit the toddler if they don't have someone already lined up?

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"You're the opposite of troll. It's a compliment!"

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Signora Del Drago
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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How sad.

The tree sounds like a very nice idea. You were sweet to think of it. I vote for the park. Don't worry about what to say. You'll say the right thing because you're you. A casserole would be a good thing, too, or a tasty meatloaf.

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"This air we're breathing. Oxygen, isn't it?"~I’mNotDedalus, impersonating Vincent D’Onofrio.|"Sometimes trying to communicate can be like walking through a minefield."~wanderwoman
"Give people a break. It's not easy doing a life."~Joshua Halberstam

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Aud
We Three Blings


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11 years ago today my husband's godson died at 2 months. I highly doubt that you can make things worse for the parents. Talking to the GS's parents recently even though they've had several children since there is still a lot of pain.

Back then everyone did little things to help - shoveled the walk, made food, sent plants/flowers etc. Once that ordinary stuff was done we did different things to remember him. Someone bought a star. I made a donation to a children's hospital that does research on SIDS.

Every year we donate a gift for a boy the age the godson would be. I think it means a lot to the family that we still have a picture of the baby displayed in our home.

I worry about getting a tree. It's a good symbol but sometimes trees just die. If the toddler gets attached it could get messy. Just a thought.

Now, I'm thinking about William - a cute little baby with very big eyes. October 11 to December 18th, 1995. [Frown]

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callee
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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my sister just miscarried late term, and they are grieving it just as one would the loss of any child. talking to her frankly, she told me that she needed no more words at all, what she needed was:

someone to cook food for her other kids
someone to fold the laundry
someone to walk to let the dog out
someone to take care of the other kids
someone to clean the bathroom and wash some fresh towels already
someone to wash the big pile of dirty dishes in the sink, or maybe buy them some disposable

etc.

wishing you the best as you try to respond well, Tgirl. I think just the fact that you are showing such concern indicates that whatever you do will be good in the end.

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a moment for old friends now estranged, victims of the flux of alliances and changing perceptions. There was something there once, and that something is worth honoring as well. - John Carroll

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Morrigan
Happy Holly Days


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Jenn-that's just what LongTallBlonde suggested, two posts up.

Morrigan

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"The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep." Robert Frost, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening

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Mickey is a Hanukkah Bush
O Come Let Us Adore Sales


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I know that in Judaism, people bring food for the grieving, as they may be too upset to cook themselves.

I agree, offer to do specific things. "Would you like me to make a casserole for you?" or "If you want some help around the house with the toddler, just let me know" may be good things to say.

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My mom, about my nervousness with Jeopardy!: "Don't worry about it. Just get drunk and you'll do fine."
Blog Just call me Mickey 2

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Rainmom
Deck the Malls


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The tree is a nice idea, but I would check and ask their permission first. They might not want to be reminded in that way.

A donation of preemie/infant clothes or a blanket to the NICU where the baby stayed is an idea.

Rainmom

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Jenn
Layaway in a Manger


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quote:
Originally posted by Morrigan:
Jenn-that's just what LongTallBlonde suggested, two posts up.

It wasn't for lack of reading on my part, Morrigan. If you notice, we posted just five minutes apart; LongTallBlonde's post was not yet up when I began my own.

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"You're the opposite of troll. It's a compliment!"

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Starla
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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If you want to do something like mow their lawn or clean their bathroom, I suggest just doing it instead of asking. Mow their lawn when you mow your own, or show up at their door, cleaning supplies in hand and say you're there to help immediately unless another time would be better. Or give them food they can freeze in case they already have meals covered at the moment.

When my friend's 8 week old son died from SIDS, people offered many things, but Friend was too overwhelmed to take people up on their offers. She says now that what helped her most were the people who just showed up and did something.

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This used to be the life, but I don't need another one.
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TurquoiseGirl
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Both of our lawns are xeriscaped, so mowing the lawn is not an option. I am leaving this weekend to visit my parents, but I will offer some help when I get back. I can probably handle watching the toddler or walking their dog.

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There are people who drive really nice cars who feel that [those] cars won't be as special if other people drive them too. Where I come from, we call those people "selfish self-satisfied gits." -Chloe

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Buckleupp
Away in a Manager


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I have to disagree with Starla, although I appreciate the spirit of helpfulness. It's one thing to show up with food, that you could drop off, and quite another to show up with cleaning supplies. They would feel obligated to let you in when they might not be up for it. And mowing a lawn without permission is just not wise, no matter what good spirit it's intended in. I think it's best to respect the wishes of the person who is grieving by offering some specific service - they can say "yes" or "no."

If weeks go by and things look neglected, perhaps close family or friends could show up to help, but I don't think that's the neighborly thing to do.

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HA! That's so funny I forgot to laugh...excluding that first Ha. -Stewie Griffin

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callee
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by Buckleupp:
...I don't think that's the neighborly thing to do.

just so long as you realise that you have a different definition of neighbourliness than other people do.

My parents, for example, could never do anything for their neighbours without asking first. Mrs. callee's parents, however, would offend their neighbours if they asked first! Different people do community differently. I'm sure Tgirl will know what's best for her situation. Overall, though, I think Starla would be right more often than not: in situations like these, doing the right thing often means moving out of your own comfort zone.

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a moment for old friends now estranged, victims of the flux of alliances and changing perceptions. There was something there once, and that something is worth honoring as well. - John Carroll

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sparklygirl
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I agree that food is always a good item. I usually try to send a 5lb (or what used to be a 5 lb) container of coffee, and some nice tea. Disposable cups & plates to go with it. Makes it easier with all the people coming and going. Perhaps also some gift certificates for some local take out places for days they aren't up to cooking later on. A small stuffed animal for the toddler.
I think I'd just say "There are no words, I'm so sorry."
Sparklygirl

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Few things are harder to put up with than a good example. -- Mark Twain
_ _______________________________ _

For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.

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Lady Moon
Jingle Bell Hock


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If you are close enough to them and they are receptive to it -- hug them. A LOT.

When I suffered miscarriages #3 and #4, nothing else helped like hugs. Nothing.

Lady Moon

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"We've got a fifth member of the band round here, and he's DEFINITELY out of tune!" -- Keith Moon

"If I had a thousand quid for every time I've introduced this song --- oh, I do!" -- John Entwistle

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LyndaD
Jingle Bell Hock


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I agree with previous posts, nothing you can do or say will take away the pain, but that you say it and do it will always be remembered. Sinply acknowledging their loss can be of tremendous comfort. So many people tend to think if they mention a tragedy it will remind the grievers and renew their pain. That's not the case! They remember constantly, and your acknowledgement of that is a comfort.
Depending on how close you are, they may need someone to talk through their pain with. After my miscarriage, I felt compelled to talk about it and the lost baby for several months. This made some people very uncomfortable, and some people avoided me because of it. If they begin talking about their baby and the whole ordeal of hospital, let them talk. I know that was the greatest gift peope gave to me.

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I'll drive it ugly. You can't see the paint job when you're behind the wheel, anyway.

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Saran Wrap
I Saw Three Shipments


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LyndaD, I agree. The thing I needed the most was for someone to listen, to validate my feelings, and to not act like it had never happened.

Also, one of my good friends noted the date of my children's death, and on that day a year later arranged to be with me all day so that I wouldn't be alone. So many people forget a parent's pain after a few months, but I guarantee that the parent will be remembering for years to come.

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"I find in myself desires which nothing in this earth can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world." C.S. Lewis

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