What To Say, Or Not To Say

How often have you heard someone say, “Oh, I didn’t go to the service because I never know what to say”? Certainly, attending a funeral or a memorial service for the sake of someone who has experienced the tragic loss of a child is indeed an intense and stressful situation. Being with someone you know who is in shock, grieving, and in the depths of sadness and despair is very difficult to witness. Oftentimes, we struggle to communicate our feelings and we search desperately for something to say that will help ease their pain. Perhaps we reach for “canned” phrases from our shelf of compassion and comfort thinking that these are the very words that the person needs to hear. Is it indeed that they “need” to hear it or perhaps we “need” to say something to them? More often than not, the person offering the words is doing so out of kindness. Sometimes there are words spoken with all good intentions that will not be successful in bringing comfort. Pulled from The Grief Toolbox that was written by Daphne Carroll, she shares with us some of those words and phrases along with ours:

Words that hurt when we are grieving:

“I know how you feel”
“They are in a better place”
“Stop thinking about it”
“Get over it”
“Are you over it yet”
“Be strong”
“Stop being sad”
“There is a reason for everything”
“Move on”
“We miss the ‘old’ you”
“Find closure”
“God needed another angel”
“Thank God you have (insert other child’s name here)”
“You’re young, you can have more children”

Words that comfort:

“I am very sorry”
“I remember”
“My heart breaks for you”
“You are loved”
“I don’t understand, but I will listen”
“I am here”
“I am praying for you”

In these times you should “just show up” and don’t worry about saying anything profound or even anything at all. Remember that your presence, your hug, your holding someone’s hand communicated all the things your words could not. Although your friend may not remember that you were there they will most likely remember if you weren’t there.