What Not To Say To The Grieving Person


I got a call from a friend today. Her dad passed away. I could hear great sadness in her voice although she said she was doing ok. She told me she was trying to comfort herself by thinking about his long, healthy life (he was 87 years old)before the cancer struck, and that he was in heaven now. I said, “It doesn’t help much does it?” She replied, “No.” I tried to give her a little hope and said,”Eventually it will help. It just takes time.”

You know I’ve said before I believe that it’s necessary to walk in someone’s shoes before assuming how that person feels. Well I’ve walked in shoes very similar to these… twice. I was there when my dad took his last breath. Then I sat by my mom’s hospital bed and waited for hours after the machines were turned off until she finally let go of this world. These were the hardest days of my life.

There were many well-meaning family and friends who commented “he’s in a much better place now”, or “she’s no longer suffering and we should be thankful.”
Both true statements but at the time I didn’t want to hear those things. I guess I was just hurting so much I couldn’t imagine my life without them in it. How would I go on without those long talks my dad and I used to have early in the morning over coffee? How would I survive life without my best friend and shopping partner, my mom? These were the thoughts running through my head. Life would never be the same and I knew it. My heart was broke in half and for someone to remind me I would never see either of them again just deepened the pain. Believe me I have said the same things to those who were grieving because I felt it would help, good intentions and all. Maybe this offends some who have made these comments, please know this is meant to help not harm.

As time went by eventually I truly could say it and believe it…my parents are much better off in heaven with Jesus than they are here in this place. I know they would never want to come back here. God has helped me release some of my selfishness of wanting them here and I have allowed Him to fill the emptiness.

As for those well-meaning friends and family they really did mean well and I’m thankful for them. However I have learned a different way to comfort from that situation. When someone I know experiences the death of a loved one, I listen, offer my help and give my love and support. Sometimes a lot of words just aren’t necessary. You’d be surprised at how far a hug, or an “I love you” will go at a time like this.

I’m praying for my friend at this time of loss and would appreciate your prayers too.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort 2 Corinthians 1:3

As far as The Georgia Girl Writes, well it’s under construction. I worked on the website most of Saturday. Ran into quite a few kinks because I’m an amateur trying to do a professional’s job. But I promised a little bit of info., so here it is: I have written my first book! It’s a family biography, soon to be published. Now it won’t be on the bestseller’s list but it is the first book that will be published with my name on it as the author!

Also, I’ve written a children’s book and now I’m looking for an illustrator. I love the story but what’s really fun is it has some extras other than just reading.
How will I publish? Praying for guidance but most likely self-publishing will be the way we go with this one.

Have an awesome night!

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Comments

  1. This is a much needed article. People (ME!) need to realize others don’t need to be ‘fixed’ just loved. I need to listen more and let others just cry and stop trying to get them to stop. Why can’t people cry? Why can’t people morn? We need to talk to them about their loved ones, remember the good times and listen and cry with them.

    • Yep but if you don’t know then you don’t know but now you know. Right? We do need to cry and just talk about them, we don’t want to avoid the subject of our loved ones. More than anything just listen and then go with it from there. You are a good listener by the way.

  2. Very true. I lost my dad 15 years ago. He died of a sudden heart attack. People would say to me, “At least it was quick.” Ya. Not comforting. However, I do understand how awkward death is to most.
    Great post Julie.

    • Thanks Sandra. Losing a loved one is the hardest thing for us to have to experience. I guess we all handle it different. I left a funeral home once and told my friend “I enjoyed it.”, so yea sometimes we just don’t know what to say.

      • Pam Lopez says:

        I’m learning Julie that sometimes the “STRONGEST” and most “POWERFUL” words….are silence..!! Well, and like you said, just to say nothing. Sometime presence alone says THOUSANDS of words. I’m learning that with those that I care about who are hurting even if it’s not necessarily the loss of someone.

  3. Julie, there is a young man at the church named Timothy Strippling. He has illustrated one childs book that I am aware of and he is an awesome artist. Thought I would let you know if in case you might want to look him up. D

  4. A relative committed suicide after a long time trying to get off drugs. I told his mother “I’m so sorry you have lost your beautiful son”. She wrote me back that she appreciated me NOT telling her all the other things that you just mentioned. Everyone told her how wonderful it was that he was free now but she only wanted HIM and couldn’t have HIM so that didn’t help her then. Like you said, just hug them and tell them that you care. M

  5. I was touched by your story, Julie, and also the comments left here. God has led me to a place where I am constantly in the presence of death (humming strains of “Both Sides Now”), but if we can offer prayers and silence (see Pam’s comment!), that transition can begin a process of healing, and self discovery, and tremendous caring for others who are in their own dark days of loss.

    And I’m so glad you stumbled into your blog. 🙂

    • Thanks for the encouragement kassandra. Is that what I should call you? I try to be more considerate now that i know what it’s like to be on the side of loss. I believe we do have a responsibility to be in touch with what others really need from us and sometimes that’s just listening, like you said. Thanks for subscribing, I hope you receive some kind of encouragement from me too.

  6. Kassandra is fine, thank you. That’s my facebook moniker, so I’m used to it.

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