How to Avoid Hurting People Who are Grieving

cremations services

Our cremations services include guidance on how to comfort and support families that are grieving the loss of a loved one. At a time when family members who are mourning in great sorrow and pain, people can unintentionally make that pain and that sorrow even more intense because they say the wrong thing.

People who are grieving are, first and foremost, on emotional overload. Every emotion is raw and on the surface. Therefore, even the most seemingly innocent words can hit the wrong way and the reaction may not be pleasant.

Anger and grief are very closely related emotions. So a grieving person is much more likely to get angry at words that seem trite, callous, rude, disrespectful or dismissive. There are many things that people say all the time that fit into this category. It’s not that people mean to elicit anger or be anything but respectful and supportive, but they don’t know how to properly console someone – and many times, being quiet and simply being there is enough – who is bereaved.

One way to hurt the grieving with your words is to offer platitudes. That word “platitudes” refers to saying something that has been repeated so often that it reflects thoughtlessness by the person saying it. Platitudes come in many shapes and sizes, but they all end up causing more pain for people who are in mourning.

One example of a platitude is, “They’re in a better place.” Why this intensifies pain is twofold: first, it reminds the grieving that their own place is minus someone they love, and second, there’s an unintended suggestion that the place with the family was inferior or defective.

Another example of a platitude is, “Everything happens for the best.” Grieving people may rationally know that for their loved one, if the dying process was long and hard, and death is best because they’re no longer suffering, but the death of their loved one is not the best for them. It feels heartless to hear someone say this, although the intentions and motives behind the words are not meant to be heartless.

A final example of a platitude is, “Let me know if you need anything.” People say this all the time to people who are grieving, and they genuinely mean it. But the emotional bottom has dropped out for people who are grieving. They don’t know what they need right away. And, when they do get to a point where they have an inkling of what they need, they’re not going to let anyone know. It’s just how we work as humans.

A final thing that can intensify the pain of grieving people is a phrase that rolls off the tongue with such ease without any thinking far too often: “I know how you feel.” That phrase will trigger the anger side of grief, because in reality, we can never truly know how someone else feels. We may share a similar experience, such as the loss of a parent, a child, or a sibling, but that’s where our understanding ends. Relationships are unique, individual, and personal. No two are the same, so we can’t trivialize those connections by assuming we know what they are.

Guidance in comforting the grieving is part of our cremations services, so you can depend on our compassionate and experienced team at Hopler & Eschbach Funeral Home to help you. You can visit our funeral home at 483 Chenango St., Binghamton, NY 13901, or you can call us today at (607) 722-4023.