I don’t like funerals. I actually can’t stand them. My people have been notified that there is to be no funeral in my honor when I leave this realm–lest they suffer through me haunting them all the days of their lives. And I will too. I just never liked the feeling they evoke. I don’t know what your beliefs are, but I just feel like death is not sad for the departed. It’s sad for those of us who remain. Some have gotten the bright idea to call a funeral a home going service. Yet, that hasn’t seemed to change the feeling a funeral elicits for me. I do my best to not attend funerals because I hate them so much. But when it calls I go. A very close friend of my family recently passed away. She was so close to our family that she actually felt more like family than some people I’m actually related to. Her funeral was held over this past weekend and I did attend. I attended to support those who remained and I was left with the same feeling I always have. I just don’t like funerals.
However, I’m not really talking about funerals today. Today I want to talk about how many of us call ourselves comforting those who are bereaved. I’ve been on the receiving end of it and I have to say, people you aren’t very good at consoling. And you know what? It’s ok. There really is nothing that you can possibly say or do to ease the pain that death elicits. So don’t try. Just offer a hug, a pat on the back. Food. Food is good. But there are just some things that we need to stop saying to those who are bereaved. I wrote a list and here it is.
- Be strong. What in the hell does this mean? What do you mean? Do you even know what you mean? Why are you telling me this? How exactly do you “Be strong” after a loved one dies any way?
- This too shall pass. You don’t say? Isn’t that exactly why I’m sad, because my loved one passed away?
- Everything happens for a reason. Is this really supposed to make me feel better? I honestly don’t give two dead flies smashed as to what the reason is my loved one is now dead. All I know is that they are dead and I don’t want them to be. Like Rick James with Charlie Murphy’s couch, Eff your reasons!
- Don’t cry. Now this is one of the most asinine things I’ve ever heard. I’m hurt. I’m in pain. What do you do when you’re hurting and in pain? You cry! Why are you telling me not to cry? What do you suggest I do then?
- I know how you feel. No you don’t. And it’s ok that you don’t. You may be able to empathize with me and that is awesome. While I’m hurting too much to grasp that right now, it is nice to know that. However, you don’t know how I feel. You know how you felt when your loved one passed away. That’s not the same.
- At least they’re not suffering anymore. I get that this is an attempt to console and I actually understand it. But in the immediate moments after experiencing the death of a loved one, I don’t want to hear that. At least they were STILL here to possibly get better. Look here, death is a most rude visitor who doesn’t give two sh*ts about suffering or not. When it’s time to go, death is taking you. I don’t feel better right now hearing this.
- Think of all the good times you shared. Yes, I have. And that’s exactly why I’m so sad right now. There will be no more good times to share.
- Well think of *insert Momma, daughter, best friend, spouse,etc.* They’re suffering more right now. What the hell? This is by far the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. You’re actually comparing the pain between all of us who are in bereavement? For why? There is no prize to be won in maxing out pain or suffering. We are all more than just the one role we fill in another’s life. To quote R.E.M., “Everybody hurts.”
- They’re in a better place. I really do understand why this would be a go-to. But at the moment, I don’t want to hear this. All I know is that my preferred place for them would be right here and they are not here.
- And finally, the dreaded How are you? Why are you asking me this? How in the hell do you think I am? I’m sad, mad, stunned, numb, crazy, and a host of other emotions I can’t even put into words right now.
I don’t say any of this to be judgmental. I do believe that people mean well when they say these things. Death brings with it a lot of uncomfortable feelings. And we don’t like being uncomfortable. The most logical thing to do when we feel discomfort is to find (or try to find) some way to ease the discomfort. I get it. But when it comes to death, there is no way around the discomfort. You can only go through it. Furthermore, as I’ve said earlier, there really is nothing that you can say or do to ease the pain one feels when they’re loved one has passed. They’re not looking for you to anyway. So just offer a hug, “I’m sorry for your loss,” a prayer if they allow. But don’t feel compelled to offer anything if you have nothing. Your presence alone is a gift.
This is just a brief list of things I remember hearing and things I witnessed being said at the funeral the other day. Can you think of anything that should be added to the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts.