I have here an email from a woman in North Carolina, named Pam, who writes:
“My dad died of COVID-19, and there could only be a few of us at his funeral for obvious reasons. I don’t know how to stay positive anymore, I don’t know how to cope, I’m crying while I write this. He was my best friend and he’s gone.”
Pam, after I read your letter, out of pure reflex I was tempted to say, “I am sorry.”
But I caught myself. People are programmed to say that little phrase without even thinking. We say it because we don’t know what else to say at funerals. It just slips out. I don’t care for the phrase.
I don’t mean to imply that saying “I’m sorry” is insensitive. It’s just that EVERYONE says it. And sometimes, it comes off as insincere.
The day of my father's funeral, for example, I must have heard this phrase about 24,192 times. By the end of the day I never wanted to hear “I’m sorry” again.
There are other things people
could say in these instances. People could always go with something honest, like: “Hey, I don’t know what to say.” Or they could just hug you and say nothing.
But alas, most folks stick with the old standbys. “He was a good man.” “Life is short.” Or my personal favorite: “He’s in a better place.”
Do you know what I wish people would say at funerals sometimes? The truth. As in:
“This really sucks.”
One time, my mother had a momentary breakdown shortly after my father passed. Her emotions overtook her. She screamed until her voice broke. She said over and over again, “THIS SUCKS!!!”
We’d never heard her say that word before. But she was saying how we all felt. And it needed to be said.
The ironic thing is, my mother didn’t talk that way. My mother is a…