Both before and after my mother died, I would see the occasional blog post about the 5, 10 or trillion things you should NEVER say to someone who is grieving. I mean, do not dare tell someone their loved one is in a better place. Heaven help you if you tell someone who does not want to be prayed for that you are, indeed, praying for them. And OH NO, you did not just say "they are no longer in pain."
As a person who has attempted to comfort others and a person who has experienced a major loss, I want to advise everyone to chill the fuck out. I understand it is hard to process things other people say when you have just lost someone. Maybe something trite is truly infuriating. Just because I never had that feeling doesn't mean it isn't a real, true feeling. Here is where I'm coming from with this: PEOPLE MEAN WELL.
If you don't want to talk to people, go be alone. You totally can. You are grieving, and that's a good enough reason to tell everyone to go away if that is what you need. You do you. But if you are going to be out greeting and chatting and socializing, understand that people do not know what to say to you. They have a few ways to go:
1. Say something that helped them at a time of grief
2. Use a cliche
3. Attempt being a Pollyanna (something trite, cheesy, or overly optimistic)
4. Say nothing
Personally I would rather hear the most meaningless, Pollyanna bullshit in the world than have someone silently dance around the big, dead elephant in the room.
In case I haven't made it clear yet, according to my own expert opinion, the one thing you should never say to someone who is grieving is: NOTHING.
Everyone dies. Even if you haven't experienced a traumatic death before, you will. Death and taxes, amiright? So let's talk about it. You say something awkward and possibly inappropriate, I'll know that your crazy comments are coming from a good place (even if they are REALLY crazy) and we can go from there.
Better idea: Let's build a campfire, break out the hot chocolate, s'mores, and peppermint schnapps, and let's talk about death. We can talk about how sad it makes us and how much it sucks. Let's tell hilarious stories about the people we have lost. Let's make fun of their weird quirks (you won't have to pay for that until later). Let's all stop pretending that we can't be sad AND happy at the same time. Devastated by a loss and grateful for the opportunity to have encountered the life of such a meaningful person.
More to come.