Previously published in Examiner
Part 11 of the Dealing with grief and loss and helping others series
Let’s face it we all can say dumb things when it comes to addressing grief stricken individuals. Some people don’t know what to say and do not say anything. Sometimes that leaves the griever feeling like they don’t care. Other people will be nervous and say the platitudes they have heard other people say or say the first thing that comes off the top of their head. Better to say nothing or simply say I am sorry than to talk nervously and say the first thing that comes to your mind without thinking about it first.
However, there are certain things we must take into consideration when we try to be helpful. We must start with avoiding the platitudes. LA Atheism Examiner Hugh Kramer reminds us that we must be sensitive of the lifestyle of the grieving individual. Your purpose is to be comforting to the grieving person; but if your comment is coming from you own belief system and not from that of the griever it will not be supportive. It will be irritating or just empty words depending upon the griever. A religious person saying that the “deceased is now in a better place, means nothing to an atheist as Hugh has pointed out.
For the deceased who was suffering from a horrible disease such as cancer, it might be better just to say, I am so sorry for your loss, and I wish that your loved one was still with us. However, I personally believe that Aunt Mary is no longer suffering, she is at peace at last. This last statement reflects back to you, and your feelings, without expecting the griever to feel the same way. Again, many grievers will appreciate your feelings, while others are in too much pain and can only concentrate on their own hurt. In time they will come to the point where see that deceased was in great pain ( providing this is the case of course) and for them death was a blessing even when they will still miss their love one and hurt because of it.
The next article will cover some more helpful statements for the griever
Certified Grief Counsellor and Educator in Montreal
Dawn Cruchet, BN, M.ED, CT
Canada Telephone Counselling Confidential http://lucymacdonald.typepad.com/counselling/grief/
Montreal tel: 514-223-1015
Montreal Therapy Center
The Montreal Counselling Clinic
Auberge Shalom Counselling and Resource Centre