Roland Mann on his Ramblin’ Web Log (rolandmann.wordpress.com) opened the subject about what a pastor might say when someone dies while out of the fold, so to speak. The usual platitude, ‘He’s in a better place’ doesn’t really work because the dear departed just might not be in a better place at all.
Then some of the comments to Roland’s blog moved the subject to things that are said to bereaved persons that are well-meaning but, well, for lack of a better term, insensitive.
When we speak to a grieving person we need to remember that what we say is being heard through a layer of pain and may not come across the way we want it to sound. Many are at a loss when it comes to speaking to the bereaved.
My husband died in October (1996) and by Thanksgiving I was back singing in the church choir. One person told me she ‘didn’t know how I did it –‘ (sing Christmas music) so soon after my loss. I heard that comment as an accusation that I must not have cared much for Ed if I could recover so quickly. Now, I realize she just wanted to talk about her own loss.
Another comment on Roland’s blog was that we say ‘If there’s anything I can do, let me know,’ thereby putting the responsibility on the grieving one. They must ask if they are in need. How many have the emotional ability to do that?
Which reminds me (again) of the first Christmas I was a widow. I had shopped for our son’s presents, putting them in the trunk of my car, away from an 8-year-old’s curious eyes. On Christmas Eve we went to an 11:00 communion service, arriving home at midnight just as a fine mist began to fall. I hustled him off to bed and about 30 minutes later went to the car to retrieve Santa Claus. The trunk of the car was frozen shut.
Well, I did what I usually do in difficulties like that — I cried. And I wondered, which one of those people who offered to do anything at anytime would like to come help me at 1:00 am on Christmas morning?
The answer is they all were let off the hook. A pan of warm water and a rubber hammer solved my problem. Christmas was saved and I didn’t have to ask for help.
So, back to what to say. You can say, ‘I know you miss him.’ Or ‘I’m so sorry.’ But, it’s not really necessary to say anything. Give a hug. Let them talk about their grief. Many people don’t want to listen to pain and the ones who will are a blessing to the person who is hurting.
“God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4