Recently my family suffered the loss of a family member. This person lived a long and meaningful life and passed away of “old age.” The following Sunday I attended the church that she had been a member of for almost 60 years. Multiple people came to me and said, “You know she’s not in pain anymore.” “She’s in heaven.” “Be joyful she’s in heaven!” “She’s in a better place.”
Every time a church member said that to me I gave a fake smile and acted like those words were actually helping. There is a time for grieving and there’s a time for rejoicing. This was a time that my family was still grieving and will continue to grieve for a long period of time.
Yes, my family knows that she is in a better place, and that the pain she was in will not hinder her anymore. But in this moment, when not even a week has passed since saying goodbye, respectfully, how you are trying to comfort us is not going to work.
I know many were trying to help. Respectfully, let us grief for the amount of time that we need. Everyone grieves differently and takes a different amount of time for each individual. From personal experience, it can be hard to know what to say, but sometimes not saying anything is the key to helping. Sometimes all a family member needs is your presence, a hug, or a sympathy card.
The grieving process does not end after the funeral. One time someone told me that it takes five years to completely stop grieving if the individual passes away from natural causes, and ten years if they die from suicide.
It’s okay to deny it at first, be guilty, angry, and sad. But it is not okay to pretend it doesn’t hurt.