What would you say?

We all struggle to know what to say to those who have lost a loved one. A friend from Tennessee is currently going through one of those times. He posted the following thoughts on his blog recently.

A good friend of mine will bury his daughter in a couple of days. She was 21 years old, was married three or four months and had just graduated from college.

It was a ten-day ordeal for them. She was on a lake in Alabama Saturday before last, boating, skiing and ‘tubing’. Apparently, while tubing (riding tethered 30 feet behind the boat on an inner-tube-like float) she struck something stationary with her head at 20 or 30 miles per hour. She arrived at the Huntsville, Alabama hospital in bad shape and comatose, but hopes were high. However, she simply wouldn’t stabilize enough for the surgeons to operate. About three days later, still in a coma, they transferred her by helicopter to the Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At Erlanger, they hoped to save her left eye and brain function. She did seem to improve, but the coma lingered and it became obvious that the eye couldn’t be saved. There were some hand movements in response to voices late last week, but she suddenly slipped into a deeper coma on this past Saturday. She succumbed to her head injury and infection last night.

What do you say to a person in this position?

I’m terrified to think about it. I’m scared to think about her death and I am very nervous about what I will say to him. And I’ll be going to the funeral visitation this afternoon.

Romans 8:18: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.”

It almost seems trite. Flippant, if you will, to remind someone of this when they are at this point in life.

If I remind him that she is better off? Again, a little cheesy.
If I tell him that it will get better? Who am I to say that?

Tough. Very tough.

No doubt this will be a difficult time for that family. But how can a friend comfort them? What have you found to be helpful to you when grieving or comforting others? Are there certain things that are inappropriate to say and do? Feel free to share your thoughts so we call can learn from this.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

6 thoughts on “What would you say?

  1. Chris Anderson

    I’ve had too many of these situations lately.

    The best thing to say? Probably “I’m so sorry. I love you. I’m praying for you. Let me know if I can do anything.” Perhaps a brief prayer: “Lord, please help this dear family, and demonstrate your more-than-sufficient grace.” That’s about it, though. No preaching, IMO, unless it’s obviously appropriate. Obviously.

    Though it may not sound very spiritual, I think it’s a time for empathy more than “the right thing to say.” Time for that will come, next week, in a card, etc. But immediately afterwards? I’d say very little. A hug and genuine tears would probably mean more anyway.

  2. Laura

    Too often we think we must say something, when being quiet – praying and listening – is the best thing we can do.

  3. stephen

    Definately agree that we shouldn’t feel compelled to say something. Our presence speaks. Yet, I’m not so sure we should consider Scripture to be “trite” and “flippant.” Sure, it might seem that way, but it certainly is not, and Scripture really is the only true source of comfort. I don’t think we should back away from tactfully attempting to comfort a brother with Scripture (Ps. 119:143). I can see that it would be hard at a funeral visitation, but I don’t think we should be scared to use Scripture.

  4. Chris

    Great question. 2 thoughts come to my mind. 1st on the human level, I ask about good memories they have of the person that passed or what were they known for? On the day of the funeral, the sharing of memories I have found helps to bring comfort. 2nd, Spiritually speaking I pray that God gives me a verse or thought to share. God’s Word is what can bring comofort. Being there is more important than saying something. One person who had lost a loved one told me in reference to speaking with the grieving, don’t open a scab unless you are willing to take the time to hear the bleeding. Listening is more important than talking in this situation.

  5. Andy Rupert


    From your link, I learned that you consider your soul to be your God. If that were true, I suppose that death would not matter. However, the Bible teaches something much different. There is a God before whom all will stand one day (Rev. 20:11-15). I hope that you will consider turning to him before you pass on.

Comments are closed.