Let’s face it, we are not good at dealing with serious illness or death. It is so completely opposite to our nature, that we’re unsure how to deal with it. Especially, because there is very little — if anything at all — that we can do in those situations.
However, there are things that are done and said during these grieving times that I just don’t find helpful, comforting or useful in the slightest. I think often times people “on the outskirts” try to make comments to bring comfort, but they just don’t.
Probably one of the most unhelpful and frustrating things people can say in these situations, in my opinion, is “My thoughts go out to you.” Or something along those lines. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve haaaated when people said that. Since my grandpa has been in the hospital, soo many people have said this to me.
I’m sorry, but your thoughts don’t do me any good.
In fact, they make me feel worse. Because when something is wrong, I don’t want your sympathy–and that’s what thoughts are. Sympathy. Or, it clues me in that you’re not really thinking about it at all, but you’re uncomfortable and don’t know what else to say.
Maybe I’m the only one in this boat, but I really can’t stand when people say that. Do something proactive, like praying, or don’t do anything at all. There is a mourning tradition in Judaism called “Sitting Shiva” that I think needs to be practiced more in our culture. According to my understanding, in this tradition, when folks are mourning it is common for everyone to not speak until the person closest to the deceased makes the first move.
There are qualities of Sitting Shiva that we need to become more accustomed to in our culture, both with death and serious illness.
Is there anything anyone has said to you in those tough situations that really got under your skin?
PS: Please continue to pray for my grandpa.