Why do we say “I’m sorry for your loss” when someone dies? I have been revisiting this these past several weeks since my father died just as he wanted to, at home, in his sleep (at least I want to believe he was asleep), quickly and without fuss.
To start with, Dad was ready to go. I have been hearing that for more than 2 years now. He would tell me in our daily phone calls, “Well, I’m here for another day. Don’t know why” or “Today will be like yesterday, have nothing I can do anymore” or the hard ones like “I’ll be dead before my birthday or before we finish this project or by next month or ______” you fill in the blank because he likely said it.
It was harder to hear or read on a message, “I’m sorry for your loss,” then the phone call that told he had died sometime since I last talked with him the day before. It created more sadness then I was feeling.
I was glad he had died. It was what he truly wanted. I knew exactly what my job was to be and I’m doing it.
Dad would not want us to be “sorry” because he is likely having a party wherever he is now in spirit.
With the many ‘sorry’ comments I got, it reminded me of the death of my husband more than 5 years ago. That same feeling of sadness came from the comments not so much from his death. He too was ready, he had fought the good fight with heart disease and cancer and just didn’t have what was needed, and honestly, just didn’t want to fight anymore. He told me that often as he got weaker with time. How is that something to be sorry about?
I lovingly helped these 2 men in my life with their daily activities when I could. They were different, with my husband it was more hands on with medications and daily living activities. With Dad it was more communication and taking care of those things I could long distance and when I was there every few weeks.
How is their dying something to be sorry about? Or anyone like them? When the pain is finally gone? When they cannot do the things they love doing? When their brain has been lost to Alzheimer’s or Dementia? When their body does not function and causes them no end of distress? When all your friends have died, and you are still here and wondering why?
I looked this question, “Why do we say “I’m sorry for your loss” when someone dies?”, up on Google and I’m not the only one who feels this way.
We are taught to say “I’m sorry for your loss” in our culture like death is some horrid thing to be avoided. But as Dad would say all the time, “Only 2 things are certain in life, taxes and death.”
We do not get off this rock flying around a blazing sun until we die. We all will at some point die.
I know there are times we feel that the person’s life was cut short, or that the accident was tragic, or they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe it’s the most unexpected deaths that are alarming to us that we are the sorriest for, unlike the elderly and those with serious illnesses. The ones we have no warning about and believe we have more time to be with that person.
Why don’t we celebrate that they lived? And in many memorial services that is what it is, a celebration. We can celebrate that we got to share time and space with them? I’m not saying we shouldn’t grieve. I’m not saying that at all. Or that we shouldn’t miss them. Grieving and missing those that have died is on us, not them. And that is ok.
Let’s celebrate the life they did live and be joyous for them on their next great adventure. I was happy for my husband and I’m happy for my Dad.
I am reminded of my husband at times when I hear a song he would sing or a picture someone posts or something I hear someone say that sounds like things he would say. I send him a greeting. sometimes it is with a tear or two because that is my emotions sending love out to the universe. I will likely be reminded of my Dad in the same way, likely when I use tools in the shop that he taught me to use as a child or when some other memory or picture comes across my mind.
Maybe I’ve experienced too much death. To many memorial services in the past 25 years. Maybe I want to see those friends and family members as being in a free and beautiful place. Maybe they were just done with whatever job they were to have here on earth and it was time to retire.
So, to my Dad. You had a long and exciting journey. You saw and did and traveled and enjoyed. You built things and invented things and taught your children many skills that have served us well all these years and many more into the future. Until we meet again.
To my readers, when you too find yourself grieving, I wish you love, peace, and to be gentle with yourself. Take the time you need for yourself. Take care of yourself. Only you know what is right for you.
I also promise to never say those words, “I’m sorry for your loss,” again. No matter what. I might say, “I understand your feelings of grieve” or “Is there anything I can do to help you?” or “What is it you need right now?” or “I can see the love you have for (fill in the name).”
I want to be the change I want to see. Please join me in creating kinder greetings.