Over the years I’ve been to way too many funerals. I’ve walked into wakes and into houses where the family and friends are sitting. I’ve felt awkward and not known what to say. How do you say anything that could possibly comfort someone who has lost a mother, a father, a husband, a wife, a grandmother, a grandfather, a son or a daughter? I can’t possibly know how they feel and I can’t possibly say anything that won’t be stupid.
Here’s what I’ve learned being on the receiving end.
You help the minute you walk through the door or pick up the phone.
So many people walk out of our door saying “I’m sorry but I don’t know what to say”.
It doesn’t matter what you say. You help by showing us you cared enough to come and feel awkward and inadequate. You help just by being here. (Although I could do without being asked “how are you” or “are you ok” – there is an angry response welling in my chest that I would rather not have burst out inappropriately).
Thank you to those who came to our house (except for the lady from Channel 19 news who came twice). Thank you to all who called. Thank you to all who read and commented on this blog.
But you know – not everyone can come or call or respond. Some are so moved by sadness that they just can’t or won’t. Thank you too. Thank you for feeling so deeply that you can’t come over and that you can’t call and that you can’t respond. I know you are there and you shouldn’t have to do something that is so awful and uncomfortable for you.
There’s a lot of “you have to’s” tied up with mourning. People will say “you have to see the body” or “you have to go to the house” or “you have to go to the funeral”.
You don’t. And you don’t have to apologize later that you didn’t or couldn’t.
We are grateful for those who have been able to express what they are feeling, for those who can’t, and for those who won’t.
For me, the hugs are the hardest and the best. You don’t need to say anything.