Everytime a friend has someone that dies, I stalk their Facebook page. I look for the phrases that send me reeling. The ones that I still can’t believe people say. This, of course, is coming from someone who isn’t that religious anymore, so some of these phrases have a lot of religious connotations that I once understood better. In speaking with other widow(er)s and those who have grieved the loss of a loved one, I do know that even those who are more religious don’t like certain phrases being said to them. No matter what we are taught, there is still so much pain with death, that rejoicing in it seems ridiculous. I decided to go back and stalk some of the things people said, well meaning, to those who are grieving.
Free at last!
I’m sorry for you loss, but thankful he/she’s in Heaven with his father.
So happy he/she has a new body!
He/She is experiencing the ultimate healing!
He/She wouldn’t want you to hurt.
These are just a few of the ones I read that hurt me. Our friends and family mean well, I know this, or at least, I have learned this. They do not say these things to make us more upset, they say these things to give us a bit of comfort. They want to tell us something that will break through the pain and anguish we feel and give us light. It’s an honorable thing, and to this day, it’s probably something I still do, without realizing. It’s natural for us to want to give advice at a critical time of need.
Advice isn’t needed. Not yet. When it’s needed, we’ll ask. There are no quick solutions to grief, no waving of the wand, or words that suddenly alter all our emotions towards the positive. Grief is real and deep and painful. It brings all of our inadequacies, our guilt, memories, reflections to a maximum level of cruelty. We are devastated in our loss.
“Think before you speak” is the only advice I can give to friends hoping to comfort loved ones in their time of grief. Be available, share with them how you ache for them, for their loss. There is no need to apologize, or give them words of advice, or tidbits to get through it, or even tell them that in time they’ll get through it. When I heard all of these things, I cringed. I wanted to feel my pain, and I wanted validation to feel that pain. For me, the advice I was given felt like someone telling me how to grieve, and to me, that was unacceptable.
We grieve on our own, we have to, it is part of the healing process. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t reach out to our friends and family to find solace and comfort, but we have to find our own paths to healing. Stop for a moment before you speak and share with ones who are grieving, then attempt, in some way, to relate to them – put yourself in a position where you can feel their pain. Walk with them, as they need.