You are spot on! Thank you.
Loss and grief is a personal journey indeed, perceived by the individual within the parameters of their cultural or religious contexts even though they are universal human experiences. The loss of a loved one, aging, our own mortality, illness and its impact, are all experienced by everyone no matter where they come from or their gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity etc. But the response to these could differ depending on the cultural setting. Of course not two individuals would react the same even within the same context.
Often we speak from our own experience. At a funeral everyone mourns for different losses. Pain is personal. When we respond to it, even to someone else’s, it’s usually through our own filters and belief systems. It’s the only way we can make sense. Many find it as an opportunity to preach and pass on their views or ideas in order to proselytize you. I find that offensive. To use someone at their most vulnerable so you can project your views and beliefs is simply arrogant and callus, to say the least.
If it’s unintentional it can be easier to forgive. If trying to capitalize on ones pain for your own benefits then it’s morally wrong.
The way we speak is also important as very well you’ve described. Not everyone is able to deliver the right message no matter what the intentions as the other person will always also interpret it in the way they can depending on numerous factors that are not related to you. I often prefer to remain silent and if appropriate smile or look at the person, hold them and comfort them without polluting them with my views.
I think in times of pain and desperation it may be better to listen actively, repeat what you’ve heard so you can validate the person and acknowledge how terrible, even horrific it is, without trying to offer advice, guidance, opinion, or attempting to minimize the impact of the loss. Certainly not trying to fix or mend or make it better, because you simply can’t. Just be, be there with them in their journey of loss.
As Mary mentioned, we are all learning from each other and about each other. It is a sacred experience to be there and with a person during these raw, vulnerable times of pain when loss is all they experience. It’s an honour to be able to just be with them at those moments. X