I think it's safe to say we have all experienced grief. That deep, hurting emotion that consumes your thoughts and leaves you sobbing into your pillow at night.
Grief can manifest through all sorts of life's experiences.
"Grief is a strong, sometimes overwhelming emotion for people, regardless of whether their sadness stems from the loss of a loved one or from a terminal diagnosis they or someone they love have received.
They might find themselves feeling numb and removed from daily life, unable to carry on with regular duties while saddled with their sense of loss.
Grief is the natural reaction to loss...Some examples of loss include the death of a loved one, the ending of an important relationship, job loss, loss through theft or the loss of independence through disability." - Mayo Clinic
No matter the reason, people, most of the time, do not know what to say to you. And so most of the time, they say nothing.
I can only speak from my own experience after suffering deep loss in October 2020 and again in early January 2021. My world seemed to stop spinning. The normal, the routine, the expected, suddenly came to an end. I was forced to look at myself and my situation and evaluate my world. I had a choice to make: Become bitter or become better.
The thing I learned more than any other thing is this. Say something. Anything. Say something to the person that is grieving. If that is too hard, write a note or a letter or a text. Yes, a text. At least it is something. If you have no words, offer a hug or simply say, "I am so sorry!" That's all I needed. I didn't need deep, thoughtful conversations. I didn't need anyone to try and take my pain away. I just needed friends who showed with their words as well as their actions that I was cared about.
Now with that said, there are a few things you should never say, and if you plan ahead, the thing you will say, or not say, will be much easier for you when the occasion arises.
Please never say:
1. “At least they are not suffering anymore, and are in a better place now.”
Even though you might have their best interests at heart, this one statement can break their heart even more. When you lose a loved one, all you care about is the fact that they are not there anymore; it’s an entirely emotional thing, and logic and rationality never help. This statement can also make them feel as if you are taking their grief casually, and minimizing their pain.
2. “I can understand how you might be feeling.”
This statement might seem harmless and supportive, but sometimes it can come across as insensitive and tone-deaf. Everyone’s process of grieving is different, and it’s not always possible to know exactly how they are feeling when they are in pain. So making a statement like this can make them feel invalidated and patronized.
3. “It’s amazing how well you’re handling this.”
Even if they seem alright from the outside, chances are they are just putting on a brave face to deal with their grief. On top of that, if you appreciate them for handling everything perfectly, it might make them think that their grieving is not that big of a deal, and they will end up suppressing their true feelings. Until and unless you know for sure, that they are actually getting better at dealing with the pain, refrain from making statements like this.
4. “How are you holding up?”
Again, this is one of those really harmless statements that everyone asks the grieving person. But what you don’t see is how the aggrieved person is interpreting this seemingly harmless question.
5. “Give it some time, because time heals everything.”
This is one of the worst and most insensitive things you can ever tell to a grieving person. When someone is grieving, all they can think about is the person they have lost forever. So telling them that time will make everything better, is not just minimizing and belittling their pain, it’s also giving off the message that healing from something like this is easy.
6. “It’s okay, you can…”
If someone has lost their spouse, and if you’re suggesting that they can get remarried after some time (even if you have their best interests at heart), it will actually make them feel worse. You know why? Because to them, it sounds like you’re implying that the one they lost is replaceable, and the grief they are feeling is not that big of a deal.
7. “You have to be strong for your family.”
This one-liner is notoriously difficult to endure when someone is grieving, but unfortunately, most people don’t understand how horrible it feels to get this advice. When you tell someone to be strong for their family and keep their emotions in check, you’re giving them the message that their pain doesn’t matter as much as others. They should be strong for others at the cost of their own grief. This makes it difficult for them to heal and can even prove to be a traumatic experience for them.
And of course, there is never bothering to even talk to them. Despite knowing that someone close to you has lost a loved one and is grieving, and you still don’t reach out to them, then that’s insensitive and horrible on another level. Losing a loved one is a heart-wrenching experience, and if you don’t stand by them during such a tumultuous time, you will end up hurting them even more. (Source: themindsjournal.com)
There is one more thing that people often say, and it always causes me to clench my teeth. And that is, "I'm so sorry for your loss. Heaven must have needed another angel."
Certainly those who say it, have good motives. However, it makes God seem selfish and cold. Satan wants us to believe that whenever something needs done in heaven and there is no one to do it, God looks to earth and points, saying "I'll take that one."
Not only is this wrong, it is a direct contradiction to what the Bible teaches about angels. Let's take a very short look.
First, angels were created by the same God that created us.
"For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." Colossians 1:16-17 NKJV
Second, we are not angels and will never become angels.
Angels are not human and have never been human. They are God’s special agents to carry out His plan and to minister to humans.
"But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool”? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?" Hebrews 1:13-14 NKJV.
Nowhere in the Bible does it indicate that angels were formerly humans or anything else—they were created as angels.
Angels have no need of, and cannot experience, the redemption that Christ came to provide for us. We are told in 1 Peter 1:12 they desire to look into the Gospel, but it is not for them to experience.
"To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into." 1 Peter 1:12 NKJV
Think about that. Angels desire to look into the Gospel! And it is those same angels that rejoice when a sinner turns to Christ.
"Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10 NKJV
There will be pain and suffering. Until Jesus comes a 2nd time, we can count on hurt and tears. It's a guarantee. And with all that said, James 1:2 tell us to count it all as joy when we fall into various trials.
Crazy talk! right?
But there is always a reason.
I often say "there is a method to my madness". Well, God too has a method. There is an order to things and apparently trouble can produce joy, the same way pressure can produce a diamond.
I will leave you with The Message version of James 1:2-4
"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way."