Friday, August 16, 2013

Fifty Things Not To Say to the Bereaved

As I mentioned in my prior post, I’ve been compiling this list for some time. Others have written on the same theme, and you may have more to add to it. (I’d be grateful if you’d share, please.) I also know, from seminars and seminary classes I’ve taught, that not all of these are immediately clear to everyone. So, if you have questions or concerns about why a particular saying is on the list, please comment and I’ll try to explain concisely enough to fit into the space allowed. (And if you want a little more information on why I find this so important, the previous post, “Silence Is Rarely Golden, but the Alternative Is Often Mercurial,” is found here:

Here’s what not to say:

1.       #1 – Nothing. (As in, don’t just say nothing.)
2.       Close Second – I know how you feel.
3.       How are you doing? (Unless you are sure you have the time to hear the answer.)
4.       It’s for the best. (Or, “It’s probably for the best.”)
5.       At least you still have…(your other children/your health/your youth/your other parent).
6.       Don’t forget you have others who need you. (esp., “Don’t forget your other children need you.”)
7.       You’ll meet someone else eventually.
8.       They wouldn’t want you to be sad/crying/depressed/angry/alone/etc.
9.       It’s not your fault.
10.    They’re in a better place.
11.    It was just their time to go.
12.    You’re strong enough to deal with this.
13.    You can put this behind you and get on with your life.
14.    God needed them in heaven.
15.    How long did the doctor say you have?
16.    Are you feeling any better yet?
17.    They’ll always be with you in your heart.
18.    I’m sorry I brought it up.
19.    You’re still young; you can (have another child/get remarried/etc.).
20.    Cheer up.
21.    It was God’s will.
22.    You’ll get over this.
23.    You were only a little-bit pregnant, right? It’s not like you lost a CHILD.
24.    It was/wasn’t meant to be.
25.    Look at how much you have to be thankful for.
26.    You’ll want to have someone around for awhile.
27.    They’re much happier now.
28.    Nothing will change the love you had for each other.
29.    God had another plan.
30.    I’ve had a similar experience…
31.    I can’t imagine what would have made them commit suicide.
32.    They had a full life.
33.    It’s time you started to move on with your life.
34.    Something good always comes out of tragedy.
35.    They’re no longer suffering.
36.    Call me if there’s anything you need.
37.    You know, the scripture teaches…
38.    You had a good long marriage/life with them.
39.    There, but for the grace of God, go I.
40.    Don’t cry/say that/feel that way.
41.    You couldn’t have known.
42.    Let’s change the subject.
43.    Everything happens for a reason.
44.    This, too, shall pass.
45.    We’ll always be here for you.
46.    Be glad he was _____, and not ______. (“5 mos, not 5 years,” “85 and not 45,” etc.)
47.    You should be glad they went quickly. (Or, “You should be glad they had time to put things in order.”)
48.    Any comparisons with anyone else’s losses.
49.    “You’ll be the youngest person we’ve ever had in long-term care.”
50.    To a teacher whose due-date would have been near the beginning of the school year, had she not miscarried: “At least this way you can plan the timing better next time.” (The teacher’s response: “After three miscarriages, I’ll take a baby on whatever schedule I can get one.”)


Pastor Greg said...

Love this list! We could all learn from it. As an adoptive parent my wife and I had to listen to a lot of stupid comments as well.

Why do we seem to feel that we need to speed up the grieving process of another? It is not for their benefit but for our own as their pain makes us uncomfortable. They don't need to get over it...we do!

Yvonne said...

#51 Were they saved?
#52 God never gives you more than you can handle.

Wm. Darius Myers said...

Good additions. Thanks!

Wm. Darius Myers said...

How did I leave off "Time Heals All Wounds?" Well, it's implied in "This, too, shall pass." But here's a link to Bindi Irwin's take on it:

Read Across America at Burney Elementary School: A Seussian Story

First grade teacher Ginny Casaurang leads her students in an exercise to sort real and imaginary words into two lists as they await their ...