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They Said What!?

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

“He’s in a better place.”.

Over and over, I heard visitors repeat this phrase to the young grieving widow. Each time it was like someone pulling a shade down over a window, the room of her soul grew darker and darker. She retreated into herself a little more each time she endured the words.

They had been married only a few short years. They were extremely happy. They lived in a small home filled with love, dreams and promises. Their life was good.

He loved his life, his work and his family. He was kind. His friends loved being around and their small house was the gathering place of many Saturday night cookouts and campfires. He wanted to be a dad. His life was good.

His death was sudden. In that moment, she was thrust into a life she didn’t want to participate in. She wanted her old life back.

This phrase, uttered in sympathy, can be felt as a punch in the gut to the very person it is meant to console. “He’s in a better place” infers

· earth is not a good place

· life with you is faulty

· you don’t need him anymore

· your happiness and comfort don’t matter

· the life you built together wasn’t good enough

· you should feel guilty for wanting him with you

The young widow wanted her husband alive and doing life the way they had been living it. Now, she was feeling shame and guilt for wanting her husband to trade in his “better place” for the life they used to have. She was not being validated. Instead of supporting her truth and her experience, she was being told how she should be feeling about this devastating event that had just taken place.

Most people do not intentionally say hurtful things to grieving people. Death and grief make people uncomfortable and they speak without thinking. Our society is all too eager to “fix things”. We speak words that make us feel more comfortable without considering how our words will affect the person whose life has just been turned upside down because death has taken their loved one.

If you are on the receiving end of hurtful platitudes, ignore them if you can and remember that they were probably not spoken out of malice, but out of ignorance. Unfortunately, this is a part of living with Grief in Life.


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