I lost my dad in 2017. September 29, 2017. It was a hellish time for me and my family. I got a text from my brother John. “We’ve got dad in an ambulance. Think he’s had a stroke.”
So I flew to Chicagoland. Went to the hospital everyday. We all took turns sleeping there. Just waiting for him to wake up. Some doctors said they had the answer & all would be well. The next doctors said, “it’s over.” It went like that for 10 days. Up & down on the worst roller coaster of all time.
I remained positive. I wanted to give him a feeding tube (since he was unconscious and couldn’t eat or drink). I wanted things to be different.
What not to say to a grieving person
You’ll tell me negative things shouldn’t stand out in my mind but this one nurse who was there was educating me about dying. I was saying things like, “let’s give him a feeding tube” and she kept lecturing me that people who are dying don’t want to eat. I was confused, blurred in my mind, so instead of replying to her I just felt angry. But later I realized what I should’ve said: “He doesn’t not WANT to eat he’s fricking unconscious, you stupid bitch!”
Then when the holy person* came in to give him his last rites or say a prayer, right in the middle of the so-called prayer she mentioned someone else in the hospital who lost a child to cancer. I stopped her right there and said, “no way, you can’t make us feel guilty about losing my dad, no way!” She back-pedaled immediately like the experienced professional she was and said, “oh yes, you knew him for longer so it’s harder.” Well the damage is done. We feel guilty. Thanks.
What to say to a grieving person
Right now I say, “f-you” to both of those bitches and the bitch doctors too. Learn how to communicate with people who are going through a hard time! Because you don’t know how. Wouldn’t you rather be the person whom people remember appreciatively from a difficult time in their past?! Right now I’d rather be telling you a story about the people who said the right things to me. The people who didn’t make my pain worse.
You’re only doing a very small part of your job if you can’t communicate with your patients. How can you live your life? You tell someone that an unconscious person doesn’t want to eat?! He wanted to eat before he became unconscious!! How do you know what he wants?!
What to say in general
Make a point of learning what to say to people. At all times. When they’re grieving. When they’re wanting to buy something-I don’t care. Work on your ability to communicate! If you don’t want to learn something new then when faced with a grieving person just shut your trap.
Some Things You Can Say to a Grieving Person
Now that I’ve stopped crying and cursing I’ll go back to my professional self. So here are some things you can say to a grieving person.
“I’m sorry for your loss. I know you’re in a lot of pain.”
“I’m here for you if you want to talk, be quiet or just cry.”
“Just wanted to reach out and let you know I’m thinking of you. Your dad seemed like a special man.”
“I brought some tissues & 2 bottles of red wine.”
“My thoughts & prayers are with you.”
We don’t even need words to speak to a grieving person.
Or at least spoken words. You can communicate your message of sympathy & love with a card. I received a most amazing card from my dear friend, Hitha, who lost her dad about a year prior to my losing mine. Her words were so beautiful, meaning & touching. I still have it on my desk. But just the act of receiving a card is comforting. You don’t need to be as eloquent as Hitha.
Here’s a no-word option. Send a grieving person a care package. Shopping for food, getting meals ready, going out in public–all things that may be difficult for a grieving person. When you receive your care package of snacks, wine, meats & cheeses, not only does it make your life easier but it warms your heart as a suffering person.
What do you think we should say to a grieving person?
I would love to hear your stories. I want to hear the good, the bad and the ugly.* Please share your experiences. What do you think people should say to a grieving person? Has anyone ever said the right thing to you? The wrong thing?
*Do I sound bitter? Well I am. But I mean no disrespect to holy people.
*I owe my dad a quarter. We owed a quarter to the hackneyed jar. Any over-used or trite expressions
costed us! Luckily inflation didn’t apply.
All apologies for the extra exclamation points. But I am shouting.
I love you dad.
miss you grandpa