Death & Dying

God gave me the gift of “wordsmithing.”  I can write just about anything I put my mind to.  God also gave me the gift of exhortation which I mostly use to encourage.  However, as talented and gifted as I am with words, I can never find the right words to say to someone who has lost someone.  As a matter of fact, because of that, death, dying, and sickness largely makes nervous!  I never like going to see dying people in the hospital because I don’t know how to behave and I NEVER know what to say.  You know, I don’t like to be like everyone else, so “I’m sorry,” “You have my condolences,” and all the other standard wishes don’t work for me.  They just don’t fit my personality!  And then, since one of my primary love languages is quality time, on one hand I feel bad that I don’t go visit people because that’s how I’m wired.  But on the other hand, if I do go, in my mind my presence should be enough.  I would be perfectly fine being a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, or whatever else you need.  But if you’re looking for some encouraging words, then I may not be the best person to look to.  But man…I SOO wish I DID have words to say!  I mean, what kind of encourager am I that can’t encourage you in times of needed comfort?  Maybe I’m afraid that I’ll be too literal and will come off as insensitive.  You know, in my mind, if the person who died is a Christian, then there’s not a whole lot to say!  They’re doing WAY better than we are now, but of course you’re the one who needs the healing.  And then, if I’m close to the person, they already know that I’m sorry, my thoughts & prayers are with them, and I’m here for them, so what does one really need to say??  Luckily I don’t experience too much death in my life and don’t have a need to encourage people going through, but I really struggle with this you guys!  What do you guys say to people who experience a loss?  A couple weeks ago a lady on the business team lost her sister, and we all got a card.  It took me FOREVER to write something, and what I wrote was soo rote I wasn’t happy about it.  And then today a friend of mine lost her daughter.  Man, this is hard!  I found out before church, so I was on the verge of tears the whole service.  Then finally when I got home I could let go.  Now, true, we had been preparing for this for the past month or two so it wasn’t a shock, but just hearing it was painful.  I’m not sure whether I’m sad that she’s gone, or sad for my friend who lost.  I’m saying all that to paint a picture for you to see how I feel about this.  As sad as I am, and as close as we are, why do I STILL have an empty comment box open on Facebook?!  I seriously have a problem with this guys!  What do you all normally say in these situations?  Please comment because I really need to get over this and be prepared for whenever the situation arises.  Thanks in advance!

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2 thoughts on “Death & Dying

  1. ACW says:

    I’ve found myself in the same situation. I’ve finally learned to be utterly frank: “I don’t know what to say, and nothing I say is going to fix it… but I’m here if you need anything/here if you need to talk.”
    So often, we are able to improve situations by talking to people, but when they suffer a loss or tragedy, they’re most in need of someone who will listen. These are the times that actions speak louder than words, and why it’s become protocol to deliver a meal to the bereaved… so they don’t have to bother with the mundane day-to-day tasks that seem pointless after such a loss. Rather than *tell* them you care, now is the time to *show* them. You’re right: your presence is needed more than your words, and should be sufficient, but you can emphasize your concern by stepping out of your expressive role and entering an instrumental role. Before you visit, call and offer to pick up something they may need from the grocery. When you get to them, open your ears and heart, and pitch in. If you have a lot of mutual friends, offer to return dishes from meals that have been brought over, etc. When a loss is great, even the simplest and mundane tasks can be overwhelming, and help from friends is appreciated… much more than words that compete for space in our brains while we’re trying to process great life events.
    If it’s someone who isn’t in your closer circle, it’s often enough just to acknowledge the loss. A sincere ‘I’m so sorry’ with a hug or warm handshake lets them know you are aware of what has happened and FEEL their loss.

    • Jessica Brown says:

      Wow! Thanks soo much for this!! I can totally do that. And that line soooo sounds like me!! “I don’t know what to say, and nothing I say is going to fix it… but I’m here if you need anything/here if you need to talk.” Thanks ACW!!

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