I just attended a "Celebration of Life" event today. I am alright but saw many at the event who were extremely distraught at the loss of one dear, dear sister, mentor, peer, etc.
I found myself at a loss for words when meeting family members of the deceased and I think I have some very different viewpoints on life, community, family, death, etc., than most of those who gathered earlier today, so I didn't stick around long after the service.
I felt I wouldn't be supportive in the way others expected, and am not questioning my decision to stay around for only a short time after the service. I am, however, very curious now as to what words people of varying belief systems find comforting.
I know that when there is a death in my family, "don't worry, he/she is with the angels now" and things of this nature are interesting concepts for me to think about. I'm not sure I can accept certain beliefs about angels that some people feel are universal concepts but I still find some comfort in such ideas...
What are the words of comfort you offer to people when someone has passed away?
What words do you find comforting, yourself, when you are suffering loss of a loved one?
On such occasions we say:
"We are from Allah and we have to return to him, ultimately."
This is a tough one for me, MB, seeing I held both my parents hands when each drew their last breath. Words just cannot comfort, I think. Oddly, people tried to comfort me with all kinds of things from "if you need anything" to "don't forget to eat"... James.
Thank you for sharing, James.
I also held my mom's hand as she was taking her last breaths. My sole sister was also there and so I didn't find the experience negative. My mom had been very sick and both my sis and I told her if she was ready to leave us, we were raised well by her and could handle this event in our lives so she didn't need to feel she had to stay with us if this meant more pain and exhaustion for her.
In the OP, I asked questions because in my worldview and by way of things I've been taught by my family, usually death of a loved one, a family member or beloved friend has not been a negative event for me. I've had good family supports in this way but wondered very much today how I could help someone else.
I understand now, from your response, James, that if I am in this situation again with friends and family whose beliefs differ from my own, I can try just letting people know they can call me if they are in need of anything. Or I can remind them to take care of themselves - the things you've suggested or similar supportive ideas - but mainly for others to reach out if need be and to take some time for treating themselves well.
Thanks for the suggestions!
hey you and 21
I am actually going through the death of my father in law and the hardest part is my guy what do I say to him? I feel so helpless but said to him and his mother, certainly not profound, but ' I am so grateful at times like this that we are able to have memories'
and not intentional to make them feel better I started asking many questions about him that I didn't know but was so curious. Amazingly they joined me in discussing so many things that we laughed at and included what we all remembered
I am glad I have a memory, thats how he lives on in my mind, and I have many more questions.
I loved him so much, much more than my father, who is gone as of last year. I erased those memories
But myth, truly a tough one no doubt
Some awesome ideas here...thanks kimberlyslyrics! I'll try to remember this stuff!
I suppose if we don't know what to say about the deceased that is supportive, getting other loved ones to talk about the person can help them feel we are being connected with them or something like that. I might not be explaining well but I think I get the positive effect your suggestions might have for most people.
I, too, had trouble knowing how to support friends that were closer than I was to the person who recently passed away - like the best friend, the husband and sisters.
I'm thinking your suggestion about not trying to make people feel better is cool - people would know if you're not saying something heartfelt, I'm sure. That's sort of why I didn't stick around long after the service - I was sure I would say one of those statements that makes people think they're being coaxed to feel better... I suppose they'll feel better when they cry enough, talk enough, or whatever it is that is therapeutic or cleansing for them...
I love your idea, kimberlyslyrics, about suggesting the positive benefit of having memories... that is, I suppose, the main connection we'll have to anyone who is grieving - the navigation of memories...
The only time I successfully managed any real words of comfort was to a friend who had lost her mother and, some time later, was still moping and distressed. I explained my view of life that people are only physically with us for a short time - even when they are here in the flesh. We hold the person within our memory and that part will not die as long as we remember, grieving too long is degrading the good memories - consider first what the missing person would say to cheer you up if they were here, I guess they would be the best person to tell you what to do.
Hey I like this response, too, alternate poet.
I suppose if someone grieves in a certain way it can lead to moping and long periods of depressed thinking. I like the suggestion to have the person think about what the "missing" person would say about the grieving person's behavior...
Neat stuff that I never could think of on my own.
Something interesting/strange I am finding in this thread now that it is being utilized...
our words for death are so limited. I've had trouble trying to say "the dead person" in a respectful way but there's not a nice way to say it lol
Alternate poet used "missing." I have used "deceased" and "passed away" and "loved one" but have to be particular about sentence structure so that I don't have to use "deceased" over and over again.... I've been told in other cultures, there are way more words to describe "dead" and "deceased" and am now wondering if it's hard to know what to say about "the dead" to the family because words about death, in themselves, are so limited.
I like missing because it opens up the absent aspect. Absence has a huge philosophical significance and if we consider the nature of it we realise that others are more absent than physically present, even in daily life. Linking the absence of the dead to everyday absence leads on to how the 'being' of others are really only constructs that we create that makes the other who they are for us. 99% of that construction does not rely on the other being physically present.
With regards to nice sentence structure and not re-using the same words again adn again - I am just trying to unlearn this and find a way of doing exactly that repetition for keyword optimisation
I've been through some very close losses, all of them unexpected. what gave me the most comfort were the memories that others shared, even those that made me laugh. at their memorial services, everything centered around their contribution to humanity, how they made the world a better place.
I always appreciated any gesture because I understood how awkward it can be to express condolences. I was with my mother as she passed and to be honest, it changed my view of death. Not only was her life a gift, but in her passing, she showed me courage and acceptance, not to be afraid of death.
Today is the 22nd anniversary of my grandmother's death and tomorrow is the 2nd anniversary of my father's death. Like rebekahELLE what comforted me the most at my father's funeral (and visitation) was hearing others talk fondly of my daddy (I prefer calling him daddy). My daddy was well-liked and loved to joke and kid around with people and was a fantastic guitar-player. It was nice to hear them appreciate his contributions to making them laugh and listening to him sing and play.
(There is a whole story about my monkey avatar that came from my daddy's funeral service if anyone is interested.)
I remember reading that long ago, i think i was Brenda Scully then keep changing my identities. It still sticks in my mind, everytime i see the avatar i think about your hub. I remember saying i was attracted to your hub because the monkey reminded me of Phantom Of The Opera..... this is turning out to be a lovely thread all in all,,.,,,
When you're down and troubled and need a helping hand, just call out my name and I'll be there yes I will when you need a friend.........
KCC, I hope you're remembering happy memories. the years pass quickly, don't they? I think it would be wonderful to hear the monkey avatar story.
I lost my Dad when I was eleven, my mom was caught up in her own grief, my brothers dealt with it by staying away from the house most of the time. I struggled with it for more than 15 years. I would dream all the time about him coming back . I could never listen to other kids speak of their dads.
Years later I decided to deal with it with my faith and knowledge of God, it helped me a lot, I wrote about him and the values he stood for and how he had taught me to live life and love nature. As I got involved in the very things he loved doing, the memory became pleasant and light!
The words other said to me went like bouncers over my head, but their hugs and acts of kindness towards me I cherished in my heart.
I lost a son in 2003 as well, so I understand struggling between my own grief and having to try to find a way to comfort my daughter. She was very close to her brother and it was very difficult for her to go on without him. She turned 11 yrs old 10 days after he died. It has really solidified our relationship. We both take great comfort in talking about the good times.
October 18th marks the 7th anniversary of my sons death- He would have turned ten this december.
There was and still is nothing that anyone has ever said that helped ease the pain. It was the ones who listened to me while I talked about his life and his death-that helped provide some relief, as well as the people that shared with me what they thought was special about him that made me smile/laugh and remember happiness.
I don't think that there is any right or wrong way to cope with death-everyone is different/i do think
That making it known that there is an open invitation for someone who is grieving to talk, is important and comforting
My heart goes out to you HC Porter, I have two young boys myself and I know how i miss them, even if they are away from home a couple of days.
It is great to be able to talk about your grief and know that others have faced it too and come out strong.
Agree with you, it helps to talk.
the only advice i could give to you, if indeed you are looking for advice.... Is that the day of the funeral you were there, that was good enough for them on that day.
However there grieving will go on for a long time, so it is never to late to show you care. You could look for opportunities to uplift them in the future.
If they are close friends, you could invite them round, just as friends, it does not have to be to talk about their loved one they have lost. I kept all the letters and cards that were sent to me when my mum died, they were a huge source of comfort for me at the time. Maybe write them a letter, tell them how lost you were for words, on that day, and how you are remembering them in your thoughts and prayers, and want to be there for them. Even if they never contact you, that card could be pulled out a thousand times. It will mean a lot to them...... Brenda.
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