By Dianne E. Butts:
Grief from Stupid Comments: Lesson 4 in 10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief.
After we lose a loved one, we’re already deep in grief. When people—especially friends—say stupid things, it just kicks us lower. But you know what? It could be they didn’t mean to say something so stupid. It could be they had no idea how their words sounded to you.
I was a teenager when my brother, riding his Harley Davidson, was hit by a drunk driver and killed. I remember one friend telling me, “You just need to forget your brother and move on.”
Forget my brother?! I thought. I don’t ever want to forget my brother! Plus, at the time, he hadn’t been gone twenty-four hours!
I really don’t think my friend intended to say something mean to me. I really think she was trying to help. She just said something really dumb, probably without thinking through how it sounded.
So here’s the fourth lesson I’ve learned about grief. (See our other lessons in the category: 10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief.)
#4 Forgiveness: Some of your friends may say dumb things…but they mean well. Other people don’t say anything at all or disappear from your life. Any of these actions can be very hurtful.
When I was grieving the loss of my brother, I finally figured something out. I discovered I did much better when I gave people a break—when I chose to forgive them for hurtful words and to assume that their intentions were good.
Some people disappeared and didn’t want to hang around with me anymore. I finally learned it was because they didn’t know what to say to me. When I decided to let it go even though they weren’t the friends I needed them to be, I could move on and find stronger friends who could help me through my sad time.
There are no magic words. If you’re trying to comfort a grieving friend, realize you don’t have to say the perfect thing. Just your presence, a touch, or a tear communicates your love and concern.
You might think a lot of suicides are caused by mean things bullies say. According to the article “Bullying And Suicide: The Dangerous Mistake We Make” by Katherine Bindley, further investigation often reveals other factors were involved in the suicide.
Madelyn Gould, a professor at Columbia who studies youth suicide and prevention, said in the article “If someone is being bullied, they should not jump to the conclusion that one of [their] options is suicide. What they should jump to is, one of the options I have is to get help.”
If you’re thinking, stupid things people say make me want to kill myself, it’s time to find a stronger friend and ask for help.
Video: Please take a few minutes to listen to this beautiful song. It talks about thinking and sinking so low and then says “lift me up to higher heights than I’d ever known before”! Take time to listen to: “Thank Him for the Miracle” by the Booth Brothers: