When I spend time with a family preparing for a funeral, I often tell them that, “some people say the dumbest things, they mean well, they will try to be encouraging, but often will walk away themselves wondering - what did I just say?” And I suggest to the family - when they hear dumb words, just to let it roll off like water off a duck’s back.
The other day, as I was looking through some Facebook feeds I noticed my friend Ebony had liked a post titled “Letting Go”. The title immediately got my interest. Knowing that Ebony also works in the funeral industry, I knew that the little blog was going to be good, the term “Letting Go” also triggered a strong memory for me.
I was conducting the funeral for a friend of mine Max who had passed away suddenly and tragically. After the service was over, I overheard this comment made to Max’s grieving wife Megan - from a friend, trying to be helpful, trying to find the rights words to say – and out it came:
“I suppose you’ve just got to let go now – and get on with your life”.
Immediately I wanted to jump to her rescue – I looked, and sure enough I could read the look in Megan’s eyes and her face – she was slightly offended by the comment because she didn’t want to let go. She was very diplomatic, and just said, I’m not sure I can do that! I’m not sure it was like water off a duck’s back either, but it was diplomatic, and I hope the person went away thinking, “What did it just say?”
During a funeral service, I usually make a comment about how difficult it is for each one of us to say the right words to the family and those that are intimately connected. Marcel Marceau, the mime ironically said this, “Don’t the most moving moments of our lives find us without words?”
Often our words fall short of what we would like them to mean: to be compassionate, loving, caring, inspiring, empathic and encouraging. They come out sounding like a clanging cymbal, or like fingernails scratching on a chalk board.
In our culture, we are not taught how to deal with people that are in the midst of grief very well.
The terms “get over it”, “letting go”, “getting on with your life”, “they are in a better place now” are all terms that we need to be very careful with.
I would suggest that it is only the immediate family who get to say – “he’s in a better place now” – “I’ve got to let go” and even that, internally in the family may offend some other members of the family. I have had that in my own family.
So getting back to the Facebook feed, this is what it had to say about letting go. It was about the power of positivity and it said this.
- Let go of toxic people in your life
- Let go of regretting past mistakes
- Let go of the need to be right
- Let go of feeling sorry for yourself
- Let go of negative self-talk
- Let go of the need to impress others
- Let go of limiting beliefs
- Let go of the need to please everyone
- Let go of gossip and complaining
- Let go of worrying about the future
These are the things to let go of, but there are so many things we should never let go of. So here are 10 thoughts from me about things that we should never let go of:
- Never let go of your love
- Never let go of the good memories that you have
- Never let go of the memory of the person’s face and smile
- Never let go of the memory of their voice, their touch
- Never let go of the stories that you hold onto
- Never let go of smiling and laughing at the wonderful memories you have
- Never let go of who you are
- Never let go of the things that keep you strong
- Never let go of doing those things that recharge your batteries
- Never let go of your faith
I wonder if you have encountered the “just let it go” statements, and if so, how did it make you feel and how did you cope with it?
What suggestions would you offer other people in that situation?
Do you have some beautiful words or thoughts that you share with those who are grieving?
Leave us a comment below so others can be encouraged by your words.
Have a great week.
By Aaron Hille