This fall semester is my last semester of seminary and it seems fitting that I’m taking a class on death and dying to close it out.
I shared with the class that part of the reason I was taking the class is because saying the wrong thing always scared me enough to never say anything. This way I couldn’t cause any harm, but I also did very little to support those who are mourning a loss of some sort.
Throughout the semester the conversations I’ve had others made me realize this is fairly common among human beings. On the other hand there’s also this problem: people always think they have to say SOMETHING, but many don’t think about how their words come across.
I’ve been taking notes throughout the class and have a list of 25 things NOT to say to those who are mourning. Part of these come directly from my professor, and part of the list are the things I’ve learned not to say by saying them.
I’m not saying these statements are necessarily wrong but they are clearly unhelpful in providing care for the bereaved.
Make sure to add your own list in the comments down below.
- I know how you feel (you don’t).
- How are you doing today? (do you want to know the truth?)
- They’re in a better place now.
- I guess it was their time to go.
- At least you can move on now.
- It was God’s will.
- Give it time, you’ll be able to move on eventually.
- At least you still have (your other kids, your own health, your other parent).
- They wouldn’t want you to be sad about this.
- Make sure to have someone around you for a while.
- Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help (I wonder how many others have said the same thing).
- God was calling them to heaven.
- You’re still young, you can still (remarry, have other kids, etc).
- Everything has a purpose.
- They lived a complete life.
- Think about how happy they are now.
- At least they aren’t suffering anymore.
- You shouldn’t cry. Be strong for your (family, kids, etc).
- You really should move on.
- Be glad they didn’t have to suffer when they died.
- Let’s change the subject.
- You’ll find someone else.
- He (she) got what they deserved.
- I can’t imagine what you’re going through.
- Nothing (certainly listening is vital but empty silence is rarely helpful).