What Not To Say To A Grieving Person
I talked to a friend yesterday. Her dad died. She told me she doing okay but I could hear the extreme sadness in her voice. As she struggled to talk she said," Well I'm trying to comfort myself with the fact that he lived a long and relatively healthy life up until the cancer." My response,"It doesn't help much does it?" A whisper, "No."
The way I see things is that unless I've walked in your shoes I couldn't possibly know how you feel, in this case I had walked in very similar shoes. I was there with my dad the moment he took his last breath. Again 5 years later I waited by my mom's hospital bed for hours after the machines were turned off, waited, for her to let go of this world.
Family and friends came to the funeral home and though they meant well some of their comments hurt more than they helped. Comments like, "He's so much better off now" or "She not suffering anymore in heaven". Though I knew these things were true I did not want to hear them because all I wanted at this time was my parents back. I couldn't imagine not having those long talks with my dad in the mornings over coffee. Thinking about never going shopping with my best friend, my mom, again was uncomprehendable. Life would not be the same again and I knew it.
What I needed was someone to listen, someone to tell me about the good times they had with my loved one, someone to hold my hand or give a hug, or someone to simply say, "I love you." Sometimes fewer words are better than many.
Selfishness takes over when we lose a loved one and we just want them back, here, not in heaven. No, I did not want either to suffer any longer but I did want them healthy, here, with me. Eventually I came to be able to say and believe those cliche things my well meaning family and friends said to me, but it took years.
Don't be offended if you are a well meaning person who has said these things because I have said them myself before I knew how it felt. Just know I say this to help not harm.
Just be there, listen, offer love and support, however that might look, to the grieving person you are trying to help.
Have you ever had an experience like this one?