Vox Populi 6 – Words of Sorrow
Welcome to the sixth in the series of “Vox Populi” articles on my blog, where I ask for your feedback and thoughts on a given topic. Hope you enjoy these short topical pieces, and please leave your feedback in the comments.
Topic 6: Platitudes
Recently on reddit/r/atheism someone posted a short piece asking people what would be the right thing to say to someone who has lost a loved one, had some particularly difficult news, or is going through hard times. It’s never easy for anyone to show sympathy for another, but the religious have an easier way our with what they say. “I’ll pray for you”, “You’ll be in my prayers”, “He’s/she’s in a better place”, “It’s all part of God’s plan”, and “He’s/she’s with Jesus now” are typical responses you’ll hear from a religious person when confronted with another person’s torment.
Of course, none of these platitudes are any good for an atheist like myself, and some of them I’d even find insulting (to a degree, though in times of distress it’s not good to go there). While the person giving the platitudes means well whatever they believe, I think it’s better to go with something real, something tangible and something heartfelt.
At the funeral of a loved one a couple of years ago, a friend delivered something along the lines of “You are a beautiful, wonderful, strong person. Nobody should ever have to go through something like this. I know you’ll be fine and I’m here for you if you need me.” This was all it took to make the griever feel better. It was real, heartfelt, and carried the same pain as the griever was feeling.
Have any of you experienced this? What would you do in a situation like this?