I think some people do not know the kind of things not to say to a grieving fellow.
People are majorly insensitive because they haven’t been through what you are going through. It’s not just about grief but it comes to play in other aspects of life as well.
People open their buccal cavity anyhow and say things that are grossly insensitive, prudish and outlandish whenever they don’t know how much hurt/pain one is going through.
However, there are some special ones whose words are just like soothing balms. They walk with you through your pain. They know the meaning of pain, they’ve gone through it. So they aren’t economical with the truth. They tell you point blank that ‘it will never go away, you just have to live with it. It’s okay to feel like blaming God, yourself or even the devil”.
Also, there are some who have never felt such pain but have a genuine caring heart. They call you and say “my thought has been with you for a long time. I just called to check up on you”.
Here are few examples of what not to say to anyone close to you who is going through a hard period in life especially the loss of a loved one
1. I called her on phone and she was talking to me grudgingly
I’ve had people say this to me over and over again. Some of those people still went on to be great friends while a few never called back. When someone is going through loss, depending on whether the person is an introvert or extrovert, we all have varying measure of abilities when dealing with pain. While some need time to recover, some can pick up the pieces almost immediately and keep talking like nothing happened.
But if it’s those that internalizes pain a lot, then you shouldn’t expect them to be cool and dandy with you when expressing your condolence. They will sound aloof, distant, uninterested, sad etc. Because every word of condolence to them, is like re-opening of fresh wound. They are trying not to dwell in the reality of it but you are making it sound so real to their ears through no fault of yours. So it’s not a personal war against you, it’s about their state of mind at that time. If you can understand this, then you understand.
If that would be your excuse for not ever talking to the person again…then its your decision. Anyone is allowed to be petty.
Your pettiness would also be permitted since you don’t understand what loss means and moreover, you still have both parents alive. You have not had any pain that’d slice through your heart and cut it in pieces not once, not twice.
2. I hope you are praying very well
What you are actually trying to say is ‘I hope you are praying very well so that you don’t die too or so that you get a job soon or get married soon.’ This is very insulting and denigrating. You are saying to someone “eeya, you mean you just lost another one in so short a period? Mehn, you need a lot of prayers ooo”
Then, you go on to ask for more information as to the exact cause of death so that you can offer more unsolicited advice. Please, grow up. Stop being silly.
Stop making people look like they have offended God somewhere when bad things keep happening to them or that they don’t pray enough or as much as you do. You think it’s only your prayers that keep you alive?
When bad things happen, it doesn’t mean that people aren’t praying. It doesn’t mean they are blind to the cause. It doesn’t mean that God is angry with them. It doesn’t mean that they have to be reminded to pray to God. You don’t even pray as much as they do. You aren’t even committed to God as they are.
When someone keeps looking for the fruit of the womb or a job, it doesn’t mean you have been praying better or harder than them that’s why you got a job a month after graduation or that you conceived on the night of your marital conjugation. Time and chance happens to them all.
3. Stop talking about your loss every time. You are taking it too far.
There are losses and there are losses. There are people who’d be out of your life either by death or by their personal decision to walk and you’d never wink. I mean you’d never remember they were ever in your life. Why? Because all the while, they never made a difference.
But there are people who have sacrificed, labored, made all the entire difference in your life and they left when you least expected. These are people who mean the world to you, who are responsible after God, for where you are in life.
So, who art thou who thinks in a small corner of your head that it’s extreme to constantly relive the memories and count your loss?
4. Your father is gone and he’s not coming back forever. You are just wasting your time.
I know. So what?
It’s why I feel pained.
So you saying ‘you are just wasting your time thinking about him’ is grossly demeaning and insensitive.
Here Is How To Commiserate With People
1. Be genuinely kind.
Maybe you should imagine the enormity of what they are going through before you open your mouth. If you can’t be kind genuinely, please stay away.
2. If they don’t sound friendly on phone, stop calling at that period but check up on them with random texts.
They are not in a good mood to respond to calls. They are probably picking random calls from different parts of the country and going over the details over and over again. Give them time to come around. They will later be cool and dandy but not at that period. It’s very insensitive to pick offense with them at that point.
3. If you can visit them, do. Talk about things they like. Avoid ghost stories.
It’s the wrong time to recount how your grandmother appeared to you in your bedroom after she died.
4. Let them rant whenever they feel like.
What you don’t know is that the more they rant, the more they come to terms with the loss. It’s therapeutic, so encourage it. Don’t say it’s too extreme or that they never stop talking about it.
5. If you cannot do any of the above, leave them to grieve in peace.
Do not add salt to their injury. Be silent. Because even the book of proverb says “when a fool is silent, he is sometimes taken as a wise man.”
Yetunde Olasiyan has M.Sc in International Affairs and Diplomacy from ABU, Zaria. She writes great content on her blog http://yetundeolasiyan.com
Connect with her on facebook: Yetunde Olasiyan