People make appalling comments to us bereft. At a time when we can barely manage to drag ourselves through our days, we have to find the energy and graciousness to make allowances for people’s tactlessness, ignorance, and downright meanness. Most people are unaware of what it feels like to lose a significant part of their life, such as a spouse or a child, and they seem to be terrified of even thinking about that unthinkable happenstance, so they distance themselves from our pain with unfeeling words. They want to believe that the universe makes sense; that God is in his heaven and all is right with the world (except for that one little slip when he let your loved one die); that everything happens for the best. It is almost impossible for people to comprehend that bad things happen for no reason at all, so of course, the deceased had to have done something to cause his or her death.
Although people were generally kind to me after the death of my 63-year-old life mate/soul mate, I still got my share of inexcusable remarks such as:
Blank stare, then, “My second cousin’s great aunt just died.” (How does that in any way relate to my having lost the man with whom I shared the past thirty-three years of my life?)
“I didn’t know he smoked.” (He didn’t. And what does smoking have to do with kidney cancer?)
“How did allow himself to get so sick?” (He took excellent care of himself, better than anyone else I ever met.)
“I know how you feel. My cat just died.” (There simply is no response to this.)
“You’ll find someone else.” (What kind of comfort is that supposed to be, especially a few days after the death of the one man who ever truly loved me and had time for me?)
“It’s God’s will.” (You don’t want to know what I think of a God who allows a good man to suffer for years and then die a horrible death just to satisfy His whims.)
“God never gives you more than you can handle.” (Wanna bet?)
“Everything happens for the best.” (Who’s best?)
As grief continues, even those who started out kind become impatient. They say things such as:
“You have to get on with your life.” (This is my life).
“He wouldn’t want you to grieve.” (Well, then, he shouldn’t have died!)
“Get over it.” (I’ll get over it when he gets over being dead.)
But the worst thing anyone ever said was:
“God will never take something away from you without replacing it with something better.” It’s bad enough to say (as so many people did) “God never closes a door without opening a window.” At least this door/window analogy acknowledges that the replacement might not be as good as what was lost. But for someone to say that He will replace what was taken with something better is totally reprehensible. How could He possible replace my life mate/soul mate/business partner/best friend/comforter/supporter/companion with anyone or anything that would be better than what I had? If you lose a job, perhaps (in a good market) you can find a better one. If you lose your wedding ring, perhaps you can buy a better one. But a person? How can one unique individual be replaced with another?
Besides, I know for a fact that the aphorism is wrong. It’s been twenty-one months since my mate was taken from me, and though many things, both good and bad, have happened to me in these months, nothing comes even close to being as good as what I once had.
Click here if you want to know: What to Say to Someone Who is Grieving