Guest Blog: “20 Sayings that Do Not Bring Comfort”
Article copyright 2015 by Jan Moore
(The following guest post is from my friend, Jan Moore. She ministers as a volunteer chaplain at the same hospital where I work, and is a very involved in other ministry in her own church and community. She and her husband recently experienced the loss of their son. Below she shares 20 things not to say to someone who has just lost a loved one. I’m reminded that Job’s three friends actually comforted Job when they sat with him and wept with him in silence ( Job 2:11-13). It was when they opened their mouths that they caused Job pain. May Jan’s list below be a caution to each of us before we open our mouths.)
My son Jeffrey died three months ago at age 24. His death was unexpected and tragic and left his family shocked and devastated. Our lives have been changed forever.
I have been blessed by the comforting presence of my priest, fellow chaplains, good friends. They have known that there are no words that can truly help so they show their love by hugs, touches, and smiles. They do not need details and do not expect me to ‘get over this and move on’ any time soon.
The comments I have listed below were made by people who I also consider friends: fellow churchgoers, neighbors, relatives. I do believe they thought they were being of comfort, but they were not. I do not believe they meant to cause me even more pain, but they did.
I know some bother me because of my own theology but still I think we need to be sensitive to everyone’s beliefs. Here is the list:
- You don’t seem to be yourself anymore. What’s wrong?
- You aren’t smiling as much as you used to. What’s wrong?
- God wanted another angel in heaven.
- Jeffrey was too good for this world.
- God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle.
- God will lead you to it and then He’ll get you through it.
- Jeffrey would not want you to be sad (or grieving or angry).
- God is testing your faith.
- God is testing your call to ministry.
- I wonder why God took Jeffrey and not (fill in the blank).
- Now you have your own guardian angel looking after you.
- Now what exactly caused his death?
- I understand exactly how you feel. My grandma died when she was 96 and it just killed me.
- Stay busy and you’ll feel better quicker.
- Well, at least you have one child left.
- How’s your marriage doing? A lot of times, people divorce after the death of a child.
- Well, it won’t be that long before you join Jeffrey in heaven.
- Was Jeffrey baptized?
- Where’s God when you need Him?
- Why did God let this happen?