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Well intended phrase that are hard to swallow..


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I have returned to work this week and I am really finding myself struggling with the well meant things people say or have written in cards. Things like "at least now he is finally at peace" -- "now you can rest and take care of yourself"--"your so strong you'll be fine in no time at all". I know (logically) that these people have very good intent in what they are saying/writing and it is meant to comfort but my heart justs wants to scream ..."yes, he is finally at peace but this doesn't make it any less painful or sad", "I would give up 50++ years of taking care of myself to take care of him for just one more day, hour, minute, even a second", " I don't feel very strong right no and I need time to grieve..its not going to be ok any time soon!" Instead I just smile and thank them for their kind words and thoughts - while I silently scream on the inside.

I found this poem and it really speaks volumes, in fact I have thought about printing it off and hanging it in my office...


"Don't tell me that you understand

Don't tell me that you know.

Don't tell me that I will survive,

How I will surely grow.

Don't tell me this is just a test,

That I am truly blessed,

That I am chosen for this task,

Apart from all the rest.

Don't come at me with answers

That can only come from me.

Don't tell me how my grief will pass

That I will soon be free.

Don't stand in pious judgment

Of the bounds I must untie.

Don't tell me how to suffer,

And don't tell me how to cry.

My life is filled with selfishness,

My pain is all I see,

But I need you, I need your love,


Accept me in my ups and downs.

I need someone to share,

Just hold my hand and let me cry,

And say, "My friend, I care."

Joanetta Hendel, Bereavement Magazine

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OH MY GOSH! Cindy, I can't believe this poem. It is simply AWESOME. It describes EXACTLY what I have said for many years. I said those things when our baby died in 1982. I was so SICK of people telling me our baby was in a better place. And it happened, too, with Don and also made me want to SCREAM. The only thing that stopped me is that I knew then and know now that they meant well.

Just last week I told my counselor who is a Christian pastor, through sobs, that I was sick of people saying that. I know that Don is in a better place and I'm happy for him and rejoice at his salvation, but I'm sick of hearing it. I sure don't understand how knowing that is supposed to make me feel good. Don isn't the issue. The issue is ME. I'm the one that's stuck here. I'm the one that's all alone. I'm not the one dancing with the angels free from pain. I'm not the one living where there are no more tears or with the One who wiped away those tears forever.

Last week I did something I never would have done in my life until now. A lady in our office about my age lost her dad. I went up to her to express my sympathy and give her a hug. Right after I hugged her SHE said, "It's ok, he's in a better place now." I just blurted out, "And how does that help you, Sherry?" I then explained why I said that and she started to cry - which is EXACTLY what she needed to do rather than letting everybody think that SHE was ok because her dad was in a better place. She's not ok and she made it very clear at that moment that she isn't ok. I then got her to tell me about her dad. And I fully intend to ask her from time to time about her mom and her dad and to get to know her better. Then, when she's ready to talk about her pain, she will know that she will have at least one person that will listen.

God bless you, Cindy, for sharing that poem. I am going to copy it right now and send it to my pastor and the friends that I have been talking to. It's AWESOME!



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Oh Cindy,

I am so, so sorry that you things are so hard right now. I am there for you if you need anyone to yell at! I am so glad to learn about these "uncool" words as I hadn't thought of what it might be like to be on the receiving end....sometimes I think we say these things to make ourselves feel better about the situation, and oddly leave out the receiver...

God bless you, do stay strong, and know we are here.


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Thank you Cindy. People really mean well but when your heart is ripped to shreds you don't want to hear those things. If people whould only realize that listening or just being there is what we need when we are so raw it would really help more. That peom really says it all.

Peggy you are doing great. Your grief is turning you toward helping others. You will learn that is what will help you as well.

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Cindy...What a great poem. I am so sorry that all of these words are ripping your heart out right now. I share your views about the things people say at times like this. How can they possibly find these words to be comforting to the person left behind? You know, I used to say some of the same things but not anymore. Since losing Dennis, I have found the best thing to say is simply "I'm so very sorry." Just knowing that someone is sorry, from the bottom of their heart, means so much more that phrases that have been used for years when there is nothing they know to say. In all fairness, you have to remember that people do mean well. They just don't know what to say and are trying to help. Until you lose someone you love, you really don't know how to relate to the feelings of loss and emptiness that the ones left behind feel. I'm thinking of you and hoping each day gets better for you.

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It's true that people mean well. It's also true that when we lose a loved one that pain is so raw and so deep. :cry::cry::cry::cry:

People just don't know what to say, so they say what comes to there minds. I HAVE to believe they are being kind to us when doing so. I don't ever want to think they are being insensitive to our feelings.

It's just plain hard at times, and there is no right or wrong in this part of the journey.

That is a very lovely poem. I'm sure everyone who has lost someone can and will relate to it. Thank you for sharing it.

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Guest kathleen

Cindy, I love the poem! Hang in your office, but first enlarge it! Take care of yourself, everyone here is thinking of you. I'm sorry for your loss.

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Cindy the poem is so appropriate and true.

I understand what you are saying 100%. I am so sick of the things people are telling me to comfort me.

Don't they understand that none of it brings me comfort? I've had people tell me that I was lucky to have such a great love and wonderful memories. Hell, I'd trade every last one of those memories for the opportunity to make new ones with Keith. I HATE people telling me he is no longer in pain. I'm in pain!!! People keep saying that Keith would want me to go on and be happy. NO!! Keith would want to be with me.

I tried to tell one of my closest friends yesterday that I missed Keith so much that it was unbearable pain. He responded with I understand what you are feeling I hurt too, I miss him too. What the HELL!!! He doesn't understand!!!

And I am so sick of people asking my how I'm doing or whether I'm ok. How do they think I'm doing. I want to wear a sign that says I'm doing Sh!tty, thank you for asking.

Worse yet I had a friend tell me the other day that "it will get better soon, you're a beautiful woman you'll find someone else real soon." I thought I was going to throw up. :evil:

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For what it's worth to Carleen or anyone going through there grief. I think it's only RIGHT to say to people when they ask how your doing or are you okay, etc, to be prefectly honest and say, I FEEL LIKE CRAP I'M NOT OKAY AND I DON'T CARE WHO KNOWS IT! Then I would go on to say, My entire life just went down the shitter, and the bottom just feel out of my life, and I have NO CLUE how I'm suppose to feel about it or how I am going to get thought it right now! Well, to be honest with you, that is something I did after my son died. (sigh)

I had one gal say to me, "Well it could have been worse, it could have been your husband you lost"! :shock::shock::twisted::twisted: Oh MY GOD! I couldn't believe she said that. I wanted to smack her!

All I can say it this: They come out of the woodwork, so BRACE YOURSELF! (((((HUGS TO ALL THAT ARE GRIEVING)))))))

Down the road, you will see that MOST people mean well. Some people really don't know how to deal with other people's grief.

This isn't about YOU being sensitive to others!! This is ONLY and I MEAN ONLY about YOU and YOUR BROKEN LIFE AND HEART AND YOUR PAIN RIGHT NOW!!!!!!

I would rather go through having cancer again and again then go through the emptiness and PROFOUND SADNESS we go through after we lose a loved one.

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I love this...

I want to wear a sign that says I'm doing Sh!tty, thank you for asking.

..maybe we should mass produce such a sign or a flashing pin! :lol::lol:

I don't by any means intend to imply that people are intentionally being insensitive or mean. I DO know that their intention is very, very good and they are trying to help, heck I have been guilty of saying the same sort of thing to the grieving people that I have know....however I can assure you that this will change to Ann's simple - "I am so very sorry" for now on (and maybe a giant hug depending on how well I know the person).

And I do think that Connie is right -- we shouldn't be afraid to tell people we feel like crap and are struggling to hold it together...who is that helping??? Not me thats for sure. I find myself telling everyone I am ok - just to make them feel better and so that they will not continue to try to "comfort me" with their words. I think I will try Connie's approach to things and see if it "makes me feel better." Right now I just feel like such a "fake" as I smile and tell people things are ok while on the inside I am shaky, very uncertain and not so "ok" in reality.

God Bless and keep us all as we find our ways through this madness called "grief"!


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I noticed that for me there was often, NOTHING that could be said that would sit well with me. I think it's one way my anger seeped out. If people said, "I'm sorry" I thought, "What for?" All of the above and more chaffed me.

BUT I also found that even saying the WRONG thing was better than those who said nothing at all... And that's something I've learned from this.

Thanks for sharing Cindy. I so agree.

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Count me in as a member of the club! I have a tendency to be more honest than what makes people comfortable, and I really did respond with, "Yes, I know mom & dad are in a better place, but that doesn't lessen the pain."

And the "At least your mom & dad are together now." Yeah, and I rejoice for that, but I am at a LOSS now that I am a middle-aged orphan! I lost mom & dad within three months, and it sucks. Do I take comfort in the knowledge that they are together and with god? Absolutely, but my heart is rent in two when my 4-year-old asks nearly daily, "Why did Grandma and Grandpa have to die?"

Yet from all of this, I know that it is my calling to say to others in mourning the right things. Or to just listen. Cindy (stand4hope) was SO RIGHT to say what she did to her co-worker.

I know that these things are said out of ignorance and the awkwardness of the moment. But now that we are the "enlightened" ones, I hope we can honestly give they type of sympathy that only comes from having been there.

Bless you all,


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Hey Karen! It was perfectly ok for you to agree that your mom and dad are in the better place because THEY ARE!! And that is a very, very wonderful thing - something to be very grateful for. It was also good, though, that you added "but that doesn't lessen the pain." You nailed it perfectly.

I don't mind agreeing that Don's in a better place or with God or free from pain or whatever they say because it's true and it's a good thing, and I really don't mind them saying it as long as it isn't said like that should make everything perfectly ok. I should have known, and now will know, to add something like you did. Rather than me giving the "but", I would just agree and keep the upset inside me because I felt they didn't care about me - just Don, or our baby, etc. It was much worse when our baby died. Those in attendance at Don's services, etc. really and truly loved him, too, and most said they were so, so sorry, hugged me and cried right along with me. But, it still did happen. With our baby, I think that's about all ANYBODY said. None of us really got to know John, so none of us loved him because we never really "knew" him. I guess that made it all ok because he was in a better place. Go figure!

Like I said, I would never never say anything mean to anyone that says these things. They truly do mean well - THEY DO! It's up to us to educate our friends and family, and hopefully, they will pass it on.

I'm working with one of my pastors to start a grieving ministry, and I'm going to suggest we put that poem on bookmarks and give them to funeral homes that will accept them and ask them to put them near the guest books. I think we could make them really pretty with a title that says "Don't know what to say?"

Also, I want everyone to know that when I said I "blurted" that out, I said it with great compassion, while I was touching this lady on the arm. I know she appreciated it - somebody understood how she REALLY felt.

Love to all,


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I think "are you okay" is an appropriate question for someone who sees you every day. Personally, knowing if it's a "good memory" day (or moment) or a "IlostallandI'mmadandIcan'tevenBREATHEwithouthurting" day so I know how to temper anything I say. If it's a good memory day, we can talk about the memories, but if it's a bad day, it's not a great time to keep going over what is missing to make it a bad day. Ya know?

I know when I call Peggy that she's NOT "okay", but then again, there are days and times that she is. I need to know the support role that she needs me to play, and only SHE can tell me that. So what I ask if she's okay and she says "I drove past the Waffle House and remembered going there on Saturdays with Don and just fell apart" we can discuss Saturday mornings and happy times OR we can talk about Peggy.

I guess the questions and therefore the answers all depend on who is asking the question and why. I feel that if you are up and out of bed, dressed and have your teeth brushed, that's the new "okay" in your world. It's all relative.

(Sorry to use you as an example, Peggy, but thought you'd "get it".)

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I think that what ztweb said is true, that people will sometimes try to put a spin to help you, but what they are doing is comforting themselves.

How is it that we can comfort a love? It is so hard for me to have any words of comfort and when I search my vocabulary, they all seem so inadequate when someone is going through such tremendous pain of loss. I am still at a quandry. All I can do is cry with them, in silence, usually.

When I have lost loves, somehow there were people put in my path that did help me to grieve. Usually these people were well meaning strangers! They had angel wings.

Cindi o'h

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Loved the poem. I haven't found objection (so far) to well-meaning folks who just don't know what to say and I've had a few out-of-the-ordinary stunners too...there was a time I didn't know what to say either.

However, I think I might hang that poem around here for a few friends who figure it's their job somehow to make it better for me or get me through this (like they know best). Pretty much ready to disconnect from those few for awhile as they are really irritating right now at times -- saying I finally got something that they already knew about me for awhile now in this process is, well, bullsh!t and not welcome at the moment. These are the same few that wanted me packing up things around this place months ago and just "laying down the law" with my mom (do what I wanted to do with the place then and her/dad's belongings) and a few other things that just plain went against the grain of who I am and my practicing values in life and respect for life.


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I think it was a great poem also. I do hope hanging it up though wont put people off who know not what to say and then they say nothing.

I have to say there have been times here sitting at the keyboard reading of a recent death and trying to respond that I honestly just sat here looking at the blank space not knowing what to say. Sometimes I have had to leave the post and not been able to reply until later. Sometimes I have had a problem typing even one word.

It is so hard to convey you're feelings for the person and not being able to open you're arms and hug them and cry with them or let them cry and try to sooth them.

I know the things we say are from our hearts and meant to help the person but I also know sometimes on this side they sound so empty. I am also sure they do on that side too.

My heart aches for the person that has lost their loved one and I do know what it feels like. I also know no one knows you're pain or where you are in it. Something I always remember was thinking to myself when I have lost loved ones was "What do I do with the sadness and pain?" I knew I may be taking things harder than others but it was my way to grieve and in my time frame. Some thought I had grieved long enough and I said Grieving is different for everyone and I have this overwhelming sadness I dont know what to do with!! In time I began to heal and it was a long time but it was me personally who had to get through it!

I do try to support and help in some way to the people here that are grieving or are going through their struggles with this journey and it is a fine line sometimes to know what to say. I will say this to all, I care, I hurt for you and I do hope I say the right things to you. You are all in my prayers and that is my way of acknowledging you and trying to help you.

God Bless you all,


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I think that poem is very appropriate. But also from the other perspective, I sometimes don't know what to say to someone who has experienced such losses. I remember when my husbands' mother died, we were seeing each other for a couple of months. What I basically told him was I'm here, in the background, if you need me. Thats' all I could say. Because I know that after the "initial" shock/grief of the death of someone you love, alot of people step back, whether or not because they feel uncomfortable of what. Unfortunately some do it indefinitely.

Did anyone happen to catch CNN last nite, about the

flight that crashed in 96' on route to Paris, with the group of school kids? I saw what the parents went through and it broke my heart, not only to lose a child, but how they were isolated by the community afterwards. I guess it is easier for some people to walk away, then to stay. Just my opinion.


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Last week I was picking up oxygen tanks for my husband at the local supplier and a well-meaning little old lady asked about my husband. I told her he had LC and her response was, "I hate to say this, but maybe he will be out of his pain soon." I turned to her and said, "He isn't in any pain, thank you very much." I was polite, but it sure gave me pause for thought about inappropriate statements by people. Geez...


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Oh boy.. I feel like maybe I have left the impression that I do not appreciate the words/actions of those who are intending to comfort... that is NOT AT ALL what I mean. I truly do appreciate each and every one!! However, right now in this very moment things are too raw for me personnally for these words to have much of an impact or to bring comfort. I KNOW from the bottom of my heart that they are meant to ...but for me personally it is not working.

I love what Cindy o'h typed because somehow in my "gut" I know this is what I personally need most right now

All I can do is cry with them, in silence, usually.

I do know that people are at a loss for words (I too have found myself in this same position and have very likely said the wrong things trying to comfort. Maybe what is best, at least for me - is just a sincere and heartfelt "I'm so sorry".. hold my hand, cry with me, or just let me cry and let me talk about his life if "I choose to do so". Somedays I just feel like if I hear one more person say "he is in a better place" I am going to scream!

What does not help either and had a big impact on my emotions last week -- was the fact that I was not home all week last week. I travel a lot for work and was in our Detroit office so I had a lot of "alone" time in a hotel room in the evenings and right now that time can either be very good or very bad... unfortunately last week it was the later.

God Bless all those that do care and try to comfort.. in my heart I know your words and thoughts are meant to comfort. Please do not be offended by my saying I do not find comfort in the words now.. I know in time I will look back and it will be there.. but for now my heart simply cannot find it.

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