When you hear the news for the first time that someone you know and love has died you are shocked and in disbelief. At times it’s asking yourself or the bearer of such sad news “Are you sure? Is this really happening?”
In our household we have had such sad news in our house once over the past 10 years that my farmer and I have been together. But recently, over the past 5 months, 4 people we were close to, some being family members, have died. We are quickly becoming familiar in the routine of wakes, and cards, and babysitters, and funerals, and grieving, and crying, and an empty place were that person will never be again.
Birthdays they will never celebrate again.
Emails we will never receive from them again.
We will never share another meal together again.
Facebook pages they will never post in again.
There will be no more conversations again.
No more final hugs goodbye.
No more Christmas’s together.
Death’s Final Sting: Death is Final.
And while the funeral and public grieving can be over quickly in a week. That place were that person used to exist in your life is forever vacant. Sure the pain can dull over time, but please don’t tell me that now. I’m grieving.
Tips of etiquette, when offering condolences to a grieving person. (yes there is such a thing, and yes I had to quickly include this)
Never tell a grieving person:
“They are in a better place.”
“The angels needed her more than us.”
“They wanted to go and have no more pain.”
“They are better off now. It was getting really hard at the end.”
“She will be with you in your heart.”
What you could do instead:
- Instead you can offer a short anecdote (if there is time) of a way that the person that passed really touched you. “I will always remember her… (smile, spirit… = fill in the blank)”
- If you don’t know what to say, or don’t have time to stop in a funeral line simply say; “My condolences.” or “Sorry for your loss.” (Don’t forget a firm handshake that says you care)
- If you have more to say to the family but know that you wont have a chance to see them again for a while you can always take the time at home and write out a thoughtful card, send it in the mail. That way if you get stuck on what you are trying to say you can Google condolence phrases or just plain take your time to think about it.
- If you can, ask a grieving person months later “So how are you doing……“ or “How are things going…“ If they want to talk, they will and your job = LISTENING! If they don’t want to talk about their loss, respect that.
- For the busy mom: offer to watch her children, or bring her a supper…. especially during the week of the wakes and funeral. (if you can clear a bit of your schedule that quickly…which can be hard to do, but try!)
- Be there for a friend that has lost a loved one even if it just for the friend to say “I need some space right now. “ Just by asking you will show that you care.
Death is final and deaths finality does sting, but as Christians we believe that death never did get the final say. Jesus conquered death and has the victory. We can have the peace and assurance of that promise. Yes, death does still happen here on earth. Yes, we still grieve and miss our loved ones with an ache but…
God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from there eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. Revelations 21: 3 – 4 J
Jesus’s promise; He is right there with us…
Some encouragement for those that have a funeral to attend this week or are grieving a loved one recently lost:
- 1) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If your a busy mom and can’t handle the house and children right now; call a babysitter or cleaning service or order take-out. If its not in the budget to do either; call a friend or mom to ask for the needed help. Try to be specific; “Can you help me, I don’t have time for the laundry this week…” or “Is it possible for you to watch the kids on Saturday for a couple of hours..”
- 2) If you need someone to talk to; call up a trust friend and say “I need someone to talk to right now…” or call a Pastor that you know and say “Can you meet me at Tim Horton’s. I need someone to talk to sometime this week.” Remember; you are not alone, and you don’t have to be alone = reach out, sometimes aggressively “I really need to talk to RIGHT NOW!”
- 3) Make sure you get enough sleep. Everything, (especially for us hormonal women, and depending on what time of the month that it is…) can hinge on sleep. If you’ve had enough sleep you could possible handle an emotional day. If you wake up drain to face an emotional draining day, chances are you will be crushed or you may crack before the day is done. Get to bed on time, or right after you put the kids to bed.
- 4) Make sure to eat healthy. Even if you don’t feel like eating or if you want to binge eat while grieving, make every bite count. Being in the depths of sadness while on a sugar high or starvation low, is no good for those that are around you, let alone you.
- 5) Take your time to grieve. You have permission to be sad. Cry. Look through photos and remember. Write down your favorite memories and stories about your loved one. Grab a box of Kleenex and go for it.
- 6) You have permission to freak out. Not at, or on people (especially your little people) but you can ask your husband to watch the kids for a while so you can; go walk and think and pray or lock yourself in the bathroom and have a long angry rant (anger is a step in grieving) or you could step outside and scream your throat dry or quietly work on a project by yourself for a while. You know what you need. You have permission.
Death is Final and the finality of a funeral is where you have your chance to say your last good-bye, to grieve, to have your own closure. If this is you this week, you are not alone. I will be attending a funeral too this week. I will remember this week that death may be final but it never has the last say.
By: Sharon Schuler
P.S. A song that’s helped me while I grieve recently…