Have you ever been the person who’s never experienced grief before and are at a funeral to show support? I have. And I’m sure I’ve put my foot in my mouth before. Perhaps you have experienced loss, but are just unsure what to say.
A person’s journey through grief and the loss of someone, especially someone close, is incredibly unique and personal. Even comments made with good intentions can hurt a grieving family member or friend. Christian grief counseling training can help you to know what to say and it’s good to know what to say, but sometimes it’s just as important to know what NOT to say.
Below are 5 comments to avoid when talking with someone who is grieving…and some ideas of what to say or do instead.
1. You’re Young, You’ll Get Married Again.
The pain of losing a spouse is such a harsh sting. Though you might find solace in thinking of how this pain won’t last forever and you won’t be alone forever, this statement feels quite irreverent and dismissive of the dearly departed and isn’t usually on a grieving widow/er’s mind in the weeks following their spouse’s death. To show your support and care for them, ask the bereaved if they will need any help around the house or make a meal for them since grieving can really drop your energy and motivation levels.
2. Your Child Won’t Remember, They’re So Young
In the same vein as the comment above, some might say “Oh, Emily’s so young, she won’t remember her dad’s death”. As Emily’s mom, that would really hurt me to think of my daughter not remembering her dad and all of the fun and love they shared. Again, this can feel dismissive of the passed loved one and their impact on the bereaved family’s lives. Try to support them by offering your condolences, and if you’d like to go the extra mile, maybe offer to babysit for the newly single parent so they can do something as simple as run errands without the hassle of bringing young children.
3. God/Heaven Needed Another Angel
So, this cliché is problematic for a couple of reasons. One is that it’s not at all biblically based. If your loved one has accepted Jesus as their savior into their heart and life, then they will surely be praising Him in heaven, but it does not equate to becoming an angel. The second reason is that to the sensitive soul of a person in mourning, the response to this would be, “well why didn’t He just make another angel instead of taking my loved one?” Try instead to offer your condolences, and if it’s appropriate offer some help. If this person is in your church congregation, you could even look into Christian grief counseling training for your pastor or the grief and loss group curriculum your church could offer.
4. They’re Your Guardian Angel Now
Just like in #3, this cliché is often said with good intentions to make the mourning family feel better, but it is just not biblically based. Psalm 91:1-16 tells us that God is our protector, not angels. Angels are merely servants of the Lord (Psalm 103:20). Surely, we carry the love of and for our passed loved ones in our hearts with us, but the Bible tells us where they go when they physically leave the earth and is always a good guide for those in mourning. You can remind them of Jesus’ promise of the resurrection and just be in the moment with them or point them in the direction for guidance through this trying time in their lives.
5. I Know How You’re Feeling
If you’ve experienced grief before and wish to impart some wisdom on your friend in mourning, you may feel inclined to say, “I know how you feel.” It comes off as insensitive and dismissive of their own uniquely personal grief journey. You don’t know how they feel. You know how you felt. Instead, try saying, “I lost my mom in 2006, if you need to talk about your grieving process, let me know, and we can talk when you’re ready”.
Contact us today for more information about the grief and loss group curriculum for churches!