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Posts tagged ‘life goes on’

Grieving: Things Not to Say

When someone we know is grieving, we want to comfort them in some way. Many times, we choose to offer support verbally. When doing so, please remember these natural instincts that roll off the tongues of us all listed below – that are actually very damaging. These are things not to say:

*It’ll be okay.  — You do not know the outcome nor can you predict the future, so don’t use this common lie as a comforting measure.

*God needed them more than you. – Seriously? This is not appropriate in any case.

*If there’s anything I can do…you just let me know. – This is so generic, insincere, and can actually lead to anger & ill feelings toward you. Never ever say this unless you are seriously willing to help the mourning person for the rest of your life! If you say this, be prepared to say YES if you’re asked for transportation, monetary assistance, emotional support, letter writing, employment referrals, catalog orders, holiday gatherings, babysitting, random unexpected visits at your home, legal support, etc. If you make this forever promise, you are the lowest form of existence if you say NO when someone mourning calls on you for assistance for the rest of their lives. This is the most common thing that people will say when they attend a funeral service and 98% of the time, they do not mean it in the least.  No matter how much restraint it takes on your part, absolutely do not say this if children are present! I was fortunate enough not to need anyone’s help and I did not call on anyone for several months for anything after losing my husband. But all the random people who made this comment to my children made life difficult. In a child’s mind, they thought that all those random people really would come to their aid for ANYTHING ANYTIME and they developed a sense of abandonment afterwards. If nothing else from this post sticks in your mind, remember this one!  (My children may not be typical. They knew from experience that when I made this comment, I made a commitment that I upheld the rest of that person’s life. They learned from my example and did not understand the concept that other people only said this because they couldn’t think of anything else to say.)

*Another angel got their wings back. – When someone says this it sounds as though they do not have a loving & studied relationship with my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. It just sounds … weird.

*Time heals all wounds. – Even if this is true (which it is), this is not appropriate to say to someone within the first year of mourning or grieving.

*He was a good man – Unless you knew this to be true, do not say this.

*She was a good woman – Unless you knew this to be true, do not say this.

*I am sorry for your loss. – Why? Unless you killed them or made them sick, why are YOU sorry? Although, I will say that this statement is received much better than the previous “If there’s every anything I can do, you let me know”.

*God doesn’t give you more than you can bear. – Although this is true, it is not comforting to hear when mourning.

*Well…at least you’re young. – Yeah, that helps no one… ever 😦 How is that comforting to someone who is already upset about living a long life without their loved one they just lost?

*I know how you feel – Avoid this one at all cost unless you too have lost a relation in the exact same manner. No, just don’t say this at all.

*Try not to cry. He/she wouldn’t want you to. – Excuse my lingo, but that is plain ole’ bull poop. Do you hope that no one mourns you when you pass away? Of course not, we all hope that we are loved enough that we are missed when we pass away. So, why would you say that to anyone?

* Okay, enough time has passed to put this behind you and move on. – I’ve heard that said to my children many times and it honestly infuriated me. It caused more hurt than help.

*It’s time to grow up now and stop crying. – This too has been said to my children and it caused far more harm than anything else. They were just kids!! Kids cry no matter their sex and it was OKAY.

*Something great will come from this. – Only say this if you can take a right hook to the jaw without blinking or budging from your spot. You’ve been warned.

*Don’t cry. It’ll upset the kids/parents/siblings/others. – Again, this causes more harm than good as it places unfounded guilt on the survivor for mourning. Everyone mourns in their own way. Words are powerful during grieving, chose your wisely.

So with all of this, what do you say? Keep it simple and sincere. The less you say, the better you are. Here is a list of very appropriate things to comfort someone mourning or grieving:

  • I love you (This is the absolute best thing you can ever say. Love heals!)
  • Call me if you need to talk. (Be careful though, don’t say this unless you are prepared for the phone calls.)
  • I’ll pray for you.
  • I’m praying for you and your family.
  • God hasn’t left you. (This one can be tricky. If you say this, be ready for mixed emotions unless you know the person’s personal faith.)
  • It’s okay to cry.
  • It’s okay to scream.
  • It’s okay to be angry.
  • It’s okay to write down your thoughts.
  • He/she knew you loved them.
  • Are you okay? (Since this is a question, be prepared for no response or a lengthy period in which you just sit silently and listen without judging them.
  • Nothing/Silence (Sometimes the only thing a person needs is physical comfort – such as: a hug, holding a hand, sitting near them, or standing near them.)

Something people often forget to do:

  • Follow up – Many people will go on with their lives and forget about the mourning/grieving person after a week or two. If your memory is bad, make a reminder for yourself to check in on them a couple months after the event. This will mean much more than flowers at a funeral, empty comments at a graveside, or cards in the mail immediately following. All you have to do is not forget them in the first year. Simple 🙂

Changes after Death

This particular article is difficult to write, but part of healing is sharing.
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Death is not easy on survivors, the friends of the deceased, or the survivors friends. We are nearing the 3 year mark after losing my husband, the kids’ father and embarking on the PTSD  journey.  It seems with each passing year, each family member affected by his death is still affected in a different way. It goes without saying that each person heals differently after experiencing a traumatic death in their lives. Some still carry very tender hearts and others just ignore that the date of the event on the calendar exists. Rarely does anyone speak of the actual event any longer. I have heard it said that time heals all wounds, but this is not the case for everyone. If someone brings him up, they mention him, not the event. This too is part of the healing process. I guess we are making progress after all 🙂
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Tragedy can bring people closer together and it can pull people far apart. After a period of time passes, many people tend to forget that there is no correct or incorrect way to grieve. There is no correct or incorrect length of time for someone to move on with life either. Moving on with life or “living” doesn’t mean that you have forgotten what you had, who that person was, or what they meant to you. Because this can be forgotten, some people in a family can turn against the ones that they feel like are not grieving appropriately in their minds. They begin to pass judgement. Along with judgment, comes bitterness, anger, and a complete re-visitation of the grieving process. The person who allows anger to fester inside of them experiences many sets backs from their healing.

Death is not prejudice. It takes who it pleases. Death is not questionable. It is final. Death is not arguable, it wins. It is uncaring, selfish, ugly, and can change people forever. Death can bring out the worst or the best in those around you while one grieves or while one heals. Death changes the image of people that we have in our minds. Death can use a person’s emotions again them. Death changes perception.

Children process death differently in their mind than a spouse, parent, or friend. After losing a parent, children want to see the surviving parent alone. They are unwilling to accept anyone else in the surviving parents life. Another woman will never be good enough. Another man will be unacceptable. Surviving children can be cruel because their emotions over take them. They will feel as though the surviving parent has fallen out of love with the deceased parent at some point, even if they remain alone for the rest of their lives. They will assume that the surviving parent is trying to replace the deceased if they choose to re-marry. They can harbor resentment, anger, and in some cases guilt because they like the new “parent” brought into their lives by the surviving parent.
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A death in the family can actually be quite dangerous to one’s emotional state & the unity of that family. Siblings will turn against Siblings. Mother against father or vice versa.  If everyone involved is not understanding of the other members of the family and their feelings, the family can be destroyed.

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Doctor Day

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve gradually become a grumpy gus. It seems that the aches & pains in my body have intensified of late. Nick continually had been encouraging me to go to the doctor to seek treatment, which I was avoiding. So, today is Dr day.
I very much dread going to the doctor. I don’t like medicine and I don’t like admitting that I can’t or won’t get better on my own 😦 Every visit since my family doctor changed practices has been odd. The last time I saw him, he didn’t seem happy. I guess being a doctor isn’t an easy profession anyway, but he use to have a spring in his step that seemed to be missing last time.
Anyway, today I’ll talk to him about the arthritis and it’s mean friends: pain, inflammation, and twisting joints. Here’s hoping he can put me on a treatment plan to slow this unkind disease and give me quality of life back. It’s hiking time in Tennessee & I want to hike, run, walk, and begin an exercise program badly!

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