A few months after my son Bobby died, I had lunch with a few friends. I still wasn’t up to socializing, but I agreed to go anyway. One of the women said something that made me want to jump across the table and grab her by the throat. I know she meant her words as comfort, but at that time it was like rubbing salt in an already gaping wound. It’s now been five years and I can remember my visceral reaction that day.
Here are two things NEVER to say to a grieving mother:
He/she is in a better place.No he’s not! He should be here with his family. With me. How could any place be better?
If you just do X, you’ll find closure. Really? What does closure mean, exactly? Do you think one simple act will help relieve the unrelenting aching of my empty arms?
As any mom will tell you, after 5 years, 10 years, or even longer, there is no such thing as closure. Writing my book, BECAUSE OF GRACE, didn’t bring closure. Putting a brass plaque with Bobby’s name on the Children’s Memorial Tree in South Lake Tahoe didn’t bring me closure. Closure is like trying to grab smoke.
Has anyone ever said anything to you like this? How did you respond?
Why do we have a hard time talking about death? It’s inevitable for every human being. The end of this journey is physical death. Yet we think it’s macabre to talk about it, to plan for it, and to watch expectantly for it.
My mother is eighty-nine years old. She is ready to die. Yet all around her, people say things like, “Oh, you’re not going to die. You’ll get better. We just need to fatten you up a little.” She doesn’t want to be fattened up. She wants to go to sleep and not wake up. Isn’t that the way we all want to go? Not struggling for every pain-filled breath.
I told my mom tonight that I was okay with her dying. I told her I’d miss her like crazy, but I hated seeing her in pain all the time. I said, “If you want to quit eating, quit eating.” We talked about her being ready to go. She’d be greeted in Heaven by Dad, Bobby, and her mom and dad. Her lifelong friend died nine years ago this month, and she’d be waiting there too.
She was worried about the inconvenience of her passing. I assured her that yes, death is inconvenient. But so is life. And she has the hope of waking up into Eternity with her Savior.