Death Bed Disasters

"Death Bed Disasters" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
“Death Bed Disasters” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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Don’t say these things.

And before someone says these are ridiculous, I’ve heard every one of them.

I was a pastor of local churches for about 30 years and I have witnessed the deaths of many people… been with them and their families and friends. My wife is a palliative care nurse. Believe me, we’ve heard even worse.

But, there are good things that can be said during times of grief. Things like:

“I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Here’s my number if you need someone for anything at all.”

“I wish I had the right words. Just know I care.”

Or… you can say nothing at all. Perhaps give a hug if they give you permission.

It’s comfort we need at times like these, not stupid explanations.

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9 Replies to “Death Bed Disasters”

  1. When my grandfather died after struggling with health, as a child my dad said that he was in a better place. I remember that being a comfort to me to think of granddad being happy and that has stayed with me – hope in the possibility of facing oblivion.

    “I’m sorry for your loss” might in some circumstances not be a comfort. “You only lose something when you don’t know where it is” being a response perhaps when it’s not.

    I agree in principle with what you say David about comfort when grieving on the other hand I’m not so confident about your do’s and don’ts with what to say.

    Can I suggest that there may not be a list of things that are appropriate or inappropriate to say that can be guaranteed to work on every occasion but that every person and every family has an approach that is unique to them that would be a comfort?

  2. Hi David, Please delete my previous comment. It was incomplete, and needs editing, but I can’t figure out how to edit it.

  3. “He was gay. He’s in Hell now.”
    “Drug overdose. Headed straight for Hell.”
    “Suicide. Oh yeah, he’s in Hell.”
    “Drank himself to death. Hell.”

  4. Perhaps a duct tape should be applied to one’s mouth before entering the room of someone who is terminally ill. Most people mean well, but uncomfortable situations turn most people into complete blithering idiots.

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