After cremation services offered in Dayton, OH, the family members and close friends of someone who has died will begin the full and, initially, intense process of grieving their loss. In a time when family members are deeply mourning the loss of their loved one, people can unintentionally make their pain and that sorrow much more intense because they say the wrong things.
People who are grieving are, first and foremost, emotionally overloaded. Even if the death of their loved one was expected, the actual event of losing someone you love can knock the wind out of your emotional sails. Every emotion you have is raw and at the surface.
Therefore, even when we’re talking with someone who is emotionally overloaded, the most seemingly innocent words we say may come across the wrong way and the reaction may not be pleasant.
It may surprise you to find, especially if you have not lost someone very close to you, that anger and grief are closely related emotions. Therefore, a bereaved person is very likely to get upset when you say something that seems to them to be trite, callous, rude, disrespectful, or dismissive.
There are many things that you can, without thinking, say after someone dies that fit into this category. Your intent is not to make the grieving person angry or to be disrespectful, callous, or dismissive, but you may not understand how to properly console someone who is bereaved.
One way to hurt the grieving with your words is to give them platitudes. Platitudes are phrases or words that have been repeated so often that it conveys thoughtlessness if you say them. The world is full of platitudes, even in grief and mourning, but they all end up causing more pain people who have lost a loved one.
One example of a platitude is, “They’re in a better place.” This makes grief more intense for two reasons. One reason is that it reminds the bereaved that their own place is missing someone they love. The second reason is that there is an unintended suggestion that the loved one’s place with the grieving family was inferior or defective.
Another example of a platitude is, “Everything happens for the best.” Bereaved people may logically know that for their loved one, if the dying process was long and hard, they are no longer suffering. However, emotionally the death of their loved one is not the best for them.
This platitude conveys heartlessness even though your intentions and motives behind saying these words are not meant to be heartless.
“Let me know if you need anything,” is a platitude that most people say to grieving people. In some cases, they genuinely mean it. However, bereaved people have no idea what they need right away. And, when they do know what they need, instinctively they will not ask, because this platitude has an implicit immediate time limit on it, and they will see that as having expired.
One final thing that you can say that will intensify the pain of grieving people is: “I know how you feel.” This phrase will likely trigger the anger side of grief, because, you can never really know exactly how someone else feels.
You may share a similar experience with the bereaved, such as the loss of a parent, a child, or a sibling, but that’s where your understanding ends. All of our relationships are unique and individual. In this case, you are better off saying nothing, but offering comfort and an empathetic ear.