Worst things to say when someone passes…

Everything happens for a reason

They’re in a better place

Time heals all wounds

This was a post that evoked a lot of reaction from a grief community when I read the comments. How could anyone possibly think any of these are okay to say to someone who is grieving?

No doubt you can think of other platitudes along this vein that also drive you crazy!!

Yet, I am going to play devil's advocate and share a different perspective on these three. 

The reality is, is that there are many people who have not experienced the death of someone which profoundly alters their life. Therefore, they simply have no compass for what that feels like and, more importantly, what is appropriate to say to someone in that circumstance. Just as the grieving person feels adrift in the ocean trying to navigate this grief, those trying to support can be adrift in knowing what is appropriate to say. It is so easy to condemn people for the insensitive things they say during these times. Yet, prior to losing my darling girl, I was probably one of those people. Awkward, lost for words, unable to wrap my head around the enormity of what had happened for that person. Even though I had experienced a lot of grief in my life, I hadn’t suffered a profound grief such as my daughter’s. Yes, it’s annoying that people say inane things. Though I have to confess that I was grateful they were making the attempt to say anything at all. Yes. Sometimes it was messy and ugly. Yet, to me at least they were making an effort. They were showing up when it mattered most.

I am certainly not going to tell you how to do grief – whichever side of it you happen to be on. I also know I will probably not be popular with many in the grief world with I am writing. I am just going to say that, for me personally, giving people grace when they were so uncomfortable trying to come to terms what I experienced was a preferable reaction than getting annoyed and upset with them. I will even go a step further, to say that I instantly recognised those who were floundering with knowing what to say to me and I would often just say – 'I know. There are no words – let’s just hug.'

As for ‘they are in a better place’ – I am actually jealous that my daughter, and others I treasure, get to reside in an amazing afterlife where there is no hurt, hate, or judgement while I continue to navigate that. How absolutely cool is that? They are at peace, able to make sense of their time and purpose on earth (which many of us are still struggling to do!) and get to live in, what I can only imagine, to be the most incredible realm. There have been many moments I would do a swap in an instance. Having said that, I also understand why I am still here doing my thing. It just isn’t my time yet. Just as many didn't get a choice of when they died, neither do we. I often hear people say, 'they aren't in a better place, they should be here beside me.' In the natural order of things where parents are supposed to die after living to to a ripe old age and before their children, I guess you could feel cheated. However, from my experiences, life has never been fair and panned out as it should. It is true. There isn’t a moment I wouldn’t love to have my daughter back here and sharing life and experiences with her. Though no matter how much I wish that, it will simply never be. So, I am grateful to know where she is now is simply amazing!

Lastly, ‘time heals all wounds’ … that gut-wrenching, overwhelming hurt I felt initially has dimmed and muted, though will always be there on some level. What I have replaced it with is gratitude for the many wonderful memories Tahl has left me with, the experiences we got to share together, along with many learnings for each of us along the way. If Tahl hadn’t died I don’t know that I would ever have reached the degree of healing I have. Both of the grief I’ve experienced, plus the many layers of trauma that have built up over time. Having to face my life head-on, in a reality I never expected, forced me to confront many, many things in my life. All the conditioning and masks I wore to fit in. The need to be liked. The struggle to get ahead. Keeping up with the Jones's. To be ‘successful’. What I discovered was that most of those things held no value whatsoever after Tahl died. What I had thought was important no longer was. In fact, my entire life has become easier, more pleasurable and happier. And this is because of the journey I was forced to endure. Maybe, without Tahl dying, I would never have discovered the ability of innate healing and the incredible difference this has made to my life and wellbeing. Perhaps my life would have continued to be good, though without the greatness that I now know I am capable of having. Yes. I accept that there will be many that will argue how could I possibly know. What I do know, is that in my instance, this journey became the healer of many wounds… and for that I will always be grateful. I am not grateful Tahl died. Though I am grateful for the opportunities of growth it has provided me with. 

I know I go against the norm with this type of post. Though I believe there are enough shades of grief in this world for everyone’s perspective to be of value. 

This is mine xx

Let me know your thoughts.


[Photo Credit: @Krakenimages ]

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