“I praise loudly, I blame softly.”~ Catherine the Great
Now that the memorial service for my brother-in-law has come to an end, I will begin the process of mourning and grieving for those that I have lost. Several in the past few weeks. Including keeping the memory of someone that I knew that I heard the news that they had passed away, just a few hours after I returned home from my brother-in-law’s service.
I have received many supportive words from many people. Some that I do not know, and from others who do not know me well at all. But whether or not I know them, or they know me is not the point. The point is that they were strong and kind and caring enough to express their condolences to me over these painful weeks.
Losing someone is never easy. Knowing what to say to someone who is experiencing grief and loss isn’t easy either.
We do not know how to comfort those who mourn a lot of the times. So some come up with the most basic and direct way to express their sympathy by saying, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Another thing that is commonly spoken is “My condolences to you and your family.”
So then, in my grief-stricken state I am reminded of hearing another sentiment that has always made me stop and wonder. And it goes all the way back to the time when I lost my mother.
“If you ever need anything, you let me know.”
I haven’t heard that one as much now as I did when I lost my mother. Back then I was only a child and I didn’t really think about it until later.
I feel that it is an expression that is too vague. Too cryptic.
When I lost my mother, I grieved in my own way, and it took years to do it. So then when I was finally in need of anything or something, I would remember those who had said that phrase to me and would ask them for their help. But to my distress as a young child, I would come to find out that those who had said those words to me, weren’t really helpful or willing to help at all.
At the time I felt like there must have been an expiration date on the term “if you ever need anything”… as if to say, “Let me know if you need anything for the next twelve months. After that, don’t bother.”
And of course that’s not what they were saying. But it felt that way then.
Once I was sent away and rejected, I began to feel bitter. I began to hate those words. And I wondered (and still do today sometimes) if anyone actually who has said that to someone who was mourning, had kept their word and gave that person help in their hour of need.
Again, this hasn’t been said to me frequently during my present time of mourning and grief. One person has actually said to me, “If you ever need to talk to someone, I will be here.”
That expression was more specific! If I needed TO TALK. And it gives the parameters of what they were willing to help with, if I was needing help.
But let’s go back again to what I was saying before. Human nature is imperfect. And people go through grief in different ways.
If we knew exactly what it was that people needed in order to be comforted during their time of loss, we would offer exactly that and nothing more. Because we would know that they do not need anything more. But we simply do not know because of the fact that we all have different needs when we mourn. And that really does include not really knowing what to say to someone. So these common expressions of sympathy are the ones that we use.
I am more appreciative of those who have sent their condolences now, than when I was younger.
And should the time come that I DO need something from someone, then I will go to them. But for now, all the thoughts, love, and prayers have been appreciated beyond any words that I can come up with to show my gratitude to everyone who has shown their condolences to me.