Dead Wrong: 10 Things You Should Never Say When Someone Dies
When someone dies, it’s hard to know what to say, especially if you haven’t experienced much loss in your own life. Death is no laughing matter, so jokes are out, obviously. But every so-called comforting phrase you know sounds like it came from a Hallmark card. While “I’m sorry for your loss” seems to be the standard go-to statement, maybe you think you’ll be more creative and embellish a bit. Pro tip: don’t. When you go off-script, you might end up blurting out one of these 10 things you should never say when someone dies.
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'Everything happens for a reason.'
Sure, and that reason could be that death is a cruel motherfucker who takes people out at the most random moments. There is no good reason for death. Stop looking for one.
'She's in a better place.'
What better place would that be? Six feet underground, all alone, awaiting decomposition? It's death, not Disneyland.
'God has a new angel now.'
That's a nice sentiment and all (if you believe in God and/or angels), but who wouldn't selfishly drag their loved one back here to Earth if they could? Keep your magical thinking to yourself.
'I know exactly how you feel.'
No, you don't. And the grieving person doesn't want to hear what you think is a close approximation to what they're experiencing. Your pet turtle's death 10 years ago can't compare to the suffering of losing a parent unexpectedly, so shut it.
'It gets better.'
True, it will get better, but the nature of life is that then it gets worse again. Then better, then worse. So stop promising some rosy tomorrow when today sucks balls for this person.
'You'll move on soon enough.'
First off, you don't know that. Some people grieve non-stop for years, or intermittently for a lifetime. Moving on isn't the point; people don't necessarily want to move on. They want to remember their loved ones forever. You can't force closure, so don't even try.
'It was his time to go.'
How the eff do you know? Do you have some cosmic calendar with everyone's death dates on it? (If you do, we totally want to see it.) It's never the "right" time to go and telling someone that their loved one's buzzer went off is callous.
'At least he had a long life.'
Death sucks no matter when it happens. Trying to make someone grateful that their loved one didn't kick the bucket sooner is a dick move. It's akin to saying, "Buck up. It could've been worse!"
'Have you seen the will yet?'
In the aftermath of a death, inheritance is the last thing on the grieving person's mind (or at least it should be). Asking about how they will cash in is not only impolite, it's offensive. Unless you're named in the will, what's in it is none of your business.
If there's any point in life when you don't need to stay strong, it's after someone dies. This is breakdown, sobbing, wailing time, and shame on you if you make someone feel like they can't fully feel whatever they need to during this process.