It can be difficult sometimes for moms to know exactly what they should say at certain times. Is it really appropriate to yell “Don’t put that Butterfinger up your nose!” when you’re waiting in line at the grocery store?
But not every situation brings its own sort of situational comedy like taking your kids on your weekly errands. Us moms are always looking for ways to comfort those we love and take care of anyone dear to us that’s hurt or grieving. This was made abundantly clear to me just the other day when I was sitting down to coffee with one of my girlfriends who lost her six year old daughter a few years ago.
The past three years have been difficult on her, but I’ve seen her handle all the knocks and bruises life has dealt her and come out on the other side singing bright. Somewhere in the middle of our lattes, I brought up not knowing what to say in awkward situations. “You know,” she said, taking a sip from her coffee and looking just past me through the window,“what really stood out to me at Kaylee’s wake wasn’t what people said, but the fact they showed up at all.”
Of course, there were a few things that well-meaning acquaintances and family members said that really got under her skin. One out-of-town aunt told her that she knew what she was going through because the aunt had just recently “lost a dog.” But overall, my girlfriend said that just seeing a large support group at her daughter’s wake said more than words could ever hope to.
I asked her what to say during wakes and sad moments because I always want to make sure to say the right thing at the right time to comfort my friends. She gave me three pieces of advice and I asked her if I could write them down. She was nice enough to let me share her wisdom with you on this blog.
It’s Ok to Cry
I didn’t expect her to say this. I mean, I didn’t just lose my daughter, the person I gave life to and nursed back to health and whose many boo-boos I kissed. My friend said she actually felt comforted by other people’s tears, like these people were helping her shoulder the burden and expressing her feelings through themselves. It might sound weird, but crying for someone else’s loss can actually be the best thing you can do when attending a wake or some other intense situation.
Just Being There Says It All
I was at my friend’s daughter’s wake and even though it wasn’t my child, I don’t remember half of what happened or what was said. I do remember who was there, though, and my friend said the same thing. In fact, it was probably best that most of these people were “seen and not heard.” Out of all the people who tried to offer up their support with words — something I’m terribly guilty of — what meant the most to my girlfriend were people simply being there, being available, showing with their presence that they could be counted on. I think that if I were in that situation, this would mean a lot more to me than just words, too.
Just Think About Them
While talking with my friend, she said the comments that meant the most to her were the ones where people didn’t really know what to say.
“What meant the most to me were when people would say ‘I have no idea what you’re going through, but I’m here for you and you’re in my prayers.’”
This isn’t the easiest thing to do, and it doesn’t sound like the perfect thing to say at wakes or any other sad affair, but I think it probably goes the farthest. My friend also said it meant a lot to her when people offered to help in any way they could. This sounds like just something you say, but you never know when someone will need you, and offering your help may be all they need to let them know you’re available.
Parents should never have to bury their children. It’s a horrible situation that I hope I never have to go through. I really respect my friend for coming through it with such grace and compassion for others though. The loss of a young one can be difficult for not just the family, but the entire community. If your community experiences the loss of a young one, remember to simply be present and be helpful. And if you see something you don’t feel comfortable with, it’s probably best to say nothing at all. For instance, if your loved one’s decide to cremate their child, try to see things from their point of view. Cremation is becoming a very popular option these days not only because of its affordability, but because it gives grieving young parents more options for memorializing their child. I wouldn’t wish the loss of a child on anyone, but it does happen. And when it does, it’s up to the community to endure it and support the parents as best we can.