One of the more interesting observations that I’ve had over the last year is how different people deal with death. Having been involved in numerous funerals over the past 8 months as part of my seminary training, I’ve gotten to witness some truly sacred moments and to see how different people deal with death.
Observation #1 – People deal with death in their own way and time. There is no right or wrong way to deal with death. While there may be stages that people go through, even the order of the stages will vary with each person.
Observation #2 – We don’t really know what to say or do. And that’s ok too. We want to express our sympathy for people who have lost a loved one, but we just don’t have the right words to do that so often.
Observation #3 – People are really uncomfortable with death. To the point that we don’t like to talk about it or even name it. We use words like “fell asleep” or “passed away.” I wonder how much of that has to do with fear of our own death.
Here’s what I’ve learned from these experiences – Fewer words are better. Trying to make the person feel better is actually worse. They don’t feel good – they are hurting. Just be there with that person. If you have to say anything, tell them how sorry you are for their loss and that death sucks. Tell them they don’t have to apologize for the way they grieve. In other words, journey to where they are, don’t try to bring them to where you are.
Death is not easy. It’s one of those things that we will experience throughout our lives, yet we will struggle with each time we encounter it.