And on the Matter of Condolences…
Offering condolences is not a happy occasion, yet we know that this happens, being human as we are.
When we visit someone who has just lost a loved one, we usually console them with a lot of hollow platitudes; I feel your pain, I understand what you are going through, I know what’s going through your mind…etc. NO WE DO NOT. We are telling someone who has just lost both his/her parents that you know how he feels? Have you lost yours? Do we have any idea what is going through his/her mind, first and foremost funeral expenses,then after that the thought of how his/her school fees and that of his/her siblings (if any) will be paid, how they will feed, be clothed, housed (if their parents didn’t have a house of their own), thinking of the person(s) who owed their parents money before they died,and if they will pay back… so many thoughts.
So please, when next we go on a condolence visit, just sit quietly. Even if the silence seems awkward and uncomfortable, the person doesn’t need small talk at that point. Allow them to grieve; just let them get it all out.
What to Say to the Mourner
Don’t tell them to stop crying (are they using your eyes or your tear ducts?) Don’t tell them the Lord gives and the Lord takes (they know that already, don’t remind them). The best you can do for them is to give them a shoulder to cry on either by calling regularly on the phone or by being present in person.
We underestimate the importance of keeping a grieving person company.You don’t have to chatter nineteen to the dozen to do this. Your mere presence is so appreciated by the person. Cooking a meal and taking to the house of the grieving person also helps a lot. Yes,the person may not be able to eat much, but trust me, later on “when eye don clear”, that person will appreciate that gesture and thank you for it.
If the grieving person is a Christian/Muslim, encourage them with Bible/Qu’ran verses. Pray with them and for them regularly. Bottom line, do something constructive and no, I don’t mean raining curses down on the “enemies” who killed the deceased.
Its just amazing that in Nigeria we never admit that someone died of natural causes; it just has to be the handwork of the enemies. Anyway that’s another matter for another day…
Hope you all had a lovely independence day celebration?
- Chizoba Asimole