TRIGGER WORDS: funeral, grief, insensitivity
What NOT to say &/or do at a funeral, visitation, or in the weeks thereafter (these were unfortunately gleaned from friends’ and my own experiences):
1. Do NOT bring up a former dating relationship that you had with the deceased unless you were the last person that they dated right up until they died. Comments about how they loved you best or you were better for them are NOT helpful.
2. Do NOT show up inebriated or high or smelling higher than the moon. Drown your sorrows after the funeral, if you must; but please remember that your loved ones want you alive. Please be responsible. Besides, numbing the pain now does not deal with it, it only results in a headache as you attempt to deal with it later.
a. If only s/he had lived a more righteous life, they would still be here….
b.Romans 8:28 has its place….IT IS NOT HELPFUL AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME. Don’t do it!
c. Don’t you think that your spouse would have wanted you to dress up a bit more? How about some make-up?
d. You’re young. You’ll find another.
e. They wouldn’t want you to be sad…stop crying.
f. Oh! this is SO horrible! What are you going to do now?
g. I am sorry that ___________ died, but look on the bright side; pretty soon their spouse will die too and then they will be together again in Heaven!
4. When invited to share a positive memory of the deceased, DO NOT, Under any duress or circumstances, share a negative memory.
5. Do NOT focus solely on your grief. Others are grieving, too. Be NICE.
6. DO NOT USE YOUR GRIEF AS AN EXCUSE TO BE ABUSIVE AND CRUEL.
7. Do NOT hold onto bitterness, life is too short to not forgive.
8. DO NOT hit on someone at visitation….JUST DON’T! Seriously, just don’t.
What is helpful? A hug, a clean tissue, flowers, a flowering plant, or a card listing your favorite (KIND) memories of the deceased. Prayers. A verse that speaks about how near God is in our sorrow. A simple, “I am so sorry”…like you mean it. A genuine, “I don’t know what to say, but I am here.” An honest, “God, I don’t know what to pray, but you know what we need. Please show us that you care.” Simply sit in silence, holding their hand, or merely just sitting. Make a meal that can be frozen. Ask if they need help with anything…and BE WILLING TO SCHEDULE TIME TO HELP.
Accept the different faces of their grief. I DO mean faces. Sometimes it’s an angry one, or a wenchy one, or sarcastic, bitter, exhausted, and maybe eventually, a half-hearted happy face. They are all okay.
My dear Dr. H. used to say, “People who cuss have limited vocabularies.” He is right. Sometimes, grief limits our vocabulary and we just need to string together a long line of expletives.
Please, avoid the religious vulgarities.