Losing a loved one is probably listed amongst the top three most painful events in a person’s life. The bereaved are usually in a sad and dark place, where it seems the light of “the-right-words” cannot enter. Interacting with friends, coworkers, or even family members after they’ve lost someone close, is often awkward. Our mission is to make things better and provide the hurting with a little relief. Yet, even though our hearts are in the right place, we sometimes unintentionally bring more stress than comfort. The last thing we want to do, is upset the grieving by being ignorant or overbearing. There’s the chance of coming off as being inhumane or overdoing it—either end of the spectrum can be offensive.
Death is very burdensome, and those affected are most likely vulnerable and sensitive. For these reasons, our actions during their time of bereavement are crucial. In part one of this two part series, we’ll review some simple “Don’ts” to avoid when dealing with the grieving.
Ignore the Tragedy: Pretending as if nothing happened isn’t going to help. Never say that the deceased is still alive just to bring comfort. Sometimes even the bereaved are in denial, which can be used as a coping mechanism, but encouraging him/her in this believe will have negative long term effects on the healing process.
Overstay Your Welcome: It’s understandable you want to show your support, but arriving early and leaving late is overstepping the boundaries. The one experiencing the lost need time to grieve. Stay only if you’re asked to stay or if the grieving individual is a close friend or relative who may need your assistance with certain specifics.
Make it about “You”: In an effort to help the bereaved get their minds off things, it’s tempting to go on a rambling spree about your life. Still, resist the urge. Hearing about your child’s temper-tantrum and your fall-out with the Rep at Walmart is probably the last thing the grieving wants to hear—whether on the phone or in person.
Be Preachy: Regardless if the hurting is a Christian or not, don’t flood him/her with Bible verses, prayers, and inspiring quotations. Also, try to avoid sharing numerous stories and or examples of others in similar situations. By all means, be encouraging and attempt to console. Yet at the same time, remember, too much of a good thing can be aggravating.
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Share your views; what are some other “Don’ts” to avoid? Part two will appear on Tuesday. We’ll look at some acceptable “Do’s” when interacting with the bereaved.