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Stop Saying that They're in a Better Place

Category: 

Grieving Process

Posted On: Feb 27, 2017

Stop Saying that They're in a Better Place

Comforting someone who is grieving can be difficult, if only because it's hard to know what to say. The situation can become awkward and uncomfortable for the person offering the support. At that point, it's all too common—and completely natural—to start dropping platitudes on the bereaved in the hopes that it will help. Unfortunately, it does more harm than good. The survivors of a loss do not need platitudes or cliches. Those do not help. If you want to avoid the risk of hurting someone you love who is dealing with a loss, stop saying that the person who died is in a better place.

It Doesn't Help

This is simple, but it's the biggest reason why you need to stop saying it. It's cold comfort at best. In the abstract, yes, it's lovely to think that someone you love who has passed on is in a better, happier place. They're no longer in pain, they're not suffering, and they've been released from their sickness or torment. Why not just say that? Make it more personal. Express that there is comfort in knowing that the departed isn't suffering now.

It Doesn't Mean Anything

Even framed as a religious idea, saying that the deceased is in a better place doesn't mean much of anything. It takes for granted the spiritual beliefs of both the departed and the survivors. It simplifies the idea of an afterlife far too much, as well. What about that is comforting, when those who are left behind are now suffering here on earth?

It Minimizes the Grief Survivors Feel

It's not your intent, certainly.  “So and so is in a better place” is what you say when you can't think of anything else. That's just what it sounds like, too. To truly comfort the bereaved, you need to go below the surface. Don't minimize someone's grief by acting like everything is just fine, or by ignoring the fact that nothing in the here and now is very good at all.

Go deeper. What would you want someone to say to you?