I am learning from my experiences and others that most people just "say something" because they feel they have to when a person brings up the loss of a loved one. Sometimes- people will say things to me like "Don't be sad- your Mom is in a better place" or " You have so much to be thankful for- don't think about what you lost, think about what you have!" or " Your Mom would not want you to be sad!"or my personal favorite "Your Mom is no longer in pain- be thankful!" Even though we may nod our head and say, that's true, what people don't realize that saying these things- although they mean well, tend to have the opposite effect. Why wouldn't I be sad???? I have read -and I agree- that comments like these tend to make the griever feel guilty or bad about expressing their emotions, and do more harm than good.
The day of my Mom's service - I will never forget...we were at my Mom's house and everyone was sitting around after the funeral- and I said "it doesn't feel right without Mom here running around asking people if they want something to eat or drink, she would love this"...and I teared up. Someone told me "Oh don't you do that- don't start crying- your Mom wouldn't want you to cry!" I wanted to say- "um hello, we just put my Mom in the ground TODAY and I am not supposed to cry???"...but I didn't, I just wiped away my tears and walked away.
The reason for the "rant" is because people need to understand that it is okay to be sad! Just because we are sad, doesn't mean we need counseling, nor do we need someone to tell us how to be un-sad. This is something many grievers struggle with and hide because they don't want people to think they need professional help just because they are grieving. Grieving is perfectly normal- and should be expected - everyone grieves differently.
Below is a quote that says it perfectly in my mind.
"Grief never ends....But it changes.
It is a passage, not a place to stay.
Grief is not a sign of weakness,
nor a lack of faith...it is the price of love".
What I take from this quote is that we will always grieve in some way for our loved ones. Sure, as the years go by the sad thoughts and painful memories will be replaced with fond memories and good times. We are not meant to stay at that place where all we want to do is cry, but we must be given as much time as needed to continue on our path to healing.
If you know someone who has lost a loved one, the best thing you can do is just listen. Let them talk about their family member or friend freely. Don't tell them you understand- because you couldn't possibly understand what they are going through....every loss is different. They may want to reminisce about good memories, or they may want share details of their journey if it was a slow loss. It may be uncomfortable for you at first, but I promise it is healing for the griever, and the more you listen the easier it will get. Chances are you will learn something you didn't know and will be able to get a glimpse into that persons experience and their heart.