Most of us have great difficulty when visiting the bereaved at their home or the funeral home. After all, so great a tragedy has taken place, what can we do? We feel helpless when trying to comfort the bereaved.
We must first remember to help the living. We should show our brethren that we are concerned about them. We can show our concern by visiting them, but also taking food to the family, washing clothes, preparing the clothes for the family to wear to the funeral, assisting with children, and other needful things.
We must also be mindful of our words. We must remember that no word or phrase that will completely calm the mourner. Note some phrases intended for comfort that can sometimes hurt:
- “Time heals all wounds.” Who wants to forget their loved one who has died? Of course, things will get easier in time, but now it is not comforting.
- “After a while you will forget.” Again, who wants to forget their loved ones?
- “He/She would have wanted you to…” No one knows what a person would have truly wanted at such a time. It is an empty and speculative phrase.
- “What a great loss you have suffered.” Pretty obvious statement.
- (Unborn child) “At least it happened before the baby was born.” (Someone really said to a friend of mine.) The parents build a bond with a child even before the child is born. It is no easier to lose a child in the first few months than it is after the child is born.
Perhaps the best thing that we can do during the time of grief is to say nothing. A warm hug and a sympathetic ear are often the best comfort we can provide. It is good to recall the deeds and the personal memories of the deceased. It can comfort the living to know that their loved one meant so much to others.
“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” –Matthew 25:44-46