Dealing with a COVID-19 Loss: What Not to Say to the Bereaved

By: Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services
Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Even in the best of times, it is difficult to know how to help someone grieve. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, consoling a friend who has lost a loved one to the virus requires extra care and sensitivity.

The normal “rules” of mourning do not necessarily apply and these particular deaths create an intense and complicated grief that most of us cannot comprehend. You may have the best intentions, but it can be easy to send the wrong message. As you work to comfort those in this challenging position, we have compiled a list of phrases you should avoid, along with some suggestions for what you could say instead.

“I know how you feel.”

You may have suffered losses in the past, but you cannot really know how someone else is feeling in their time of grief, especially since our present circumstances are so challenging and extraordinary. Due to the stay at home orders related to the coronavirus pandemic, bereaved people may not have been able to be with their loved one while they were ill or when they passed. In addition, they are likely to be dealing with other agonizing circumstances, such as concerns for their own health, the health of friends and family members, economic distress, and more, which you did not encounter. A better course of action would be listen to what the person who lost a loved one is saying and acknowledge their pain. For example, you could say, “I am so very sorry for your loss. This must be an extremely difficult time for you.”


“Did they have a pre-existing condition?”

It is rude and insensitive to ask about medical conditions when expressing condolences. If your grieving friend wants to offer information about the details of their loved one’s passing, that is their choice, but you should refrain from asking personal questions like these.


“Let me know if you need anything.”

This open-ended statement is well-meaning, but it creates additional work for the one who is grieving. It requires them to think about what they need and then decide what they should assign to you. It also puts them in the position of having to ask for help, which most people struggle with. In addition, social distancing guidelines could make some mourners feel less inclined to reach out to others for support. Convey your sincere desire to help your grieving loved ones by offering assistance with a specific task, like helping to plan a virtual memorial or picking up the groceries.


“With so many people dying from COVID-19, at least you are not alone.”

When someone has lost a loved one to this insidious virus, telling them that they are ‘part of the crowd’ does nothing to ease their pain. As a general rule of thumb, it is wise to avoid any phrase that starts with “at least” when expressing condolences. Phrases such as, “At least they didn’t suffer long,” or “At least you still have your mom,” inadvertently minimize the suffering the bereaved is experiencing.

People tend to crave physical contact more than ever when they grieve. While the coronavirus pandemic continues on, it can be impossible to give a hug or loving touch. Use your words and supportive gestures as guiding lights for those who are going through a dark period, and encourage other friends and family members to do the same.

During these challenging times, demonstrating your support for those who have lost a loved one has never been more important. Please contact our caring staff for more ways you can help others through their journey of loss.          

About Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services: As a leading African American-owned and operated funeral and cremation organization serving three states, Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services has provided a ministry of care to thousands of grieving families. We promise to provide our highest level of distinguished service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved one. In all aspects of the funeral process, we strive to be the absolute best and are honored to help preserve our clients’ legacies for future generations. With two convenient locations serving North and West Philadelphia, as well as Drexel Hill, it is always our pleasure to be of service. Please visit our website for more information.

 

 

Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

Understanding the Symbolism of the Most Popular Funeral Flowers

Before you tell the florist to “put something nice together” for a sympathy arrangement, give some thought to the message it’s sending. Ideally, the arrangement should reflect the life of the perso...

Follow These Tips to Safely Express Your Sympathy During COVID-19

When someone passes away, we are accustomed to gathering with family and friends to share our sympathies with the bereaved. This traditional, supportive gesture represents an important part of the ...

Written Condolence Etiquette: Do You Know the Rules?

Written condolences can be challenging to compose. Losing a loved one is a deeply personal event and everyone deals with their emotions differently, making it difficult to know what to say. Still...

The Other COVID-19 Toll: Managing Loneliness and Isolation

Human beings thrive on connection. Engaging with others reduces anxiety, helps to regulate emotions, lead to higher self-esteem, and can even improve our immune systems. While it is critically im...

Funeral Pre-Planning: The Ultimate Gift of Love

Any time is a good time to plan your funeral—except after you’ve already passed away. Can you imagine planning a wedding in just a few days? Or taking a trip abroad on the fly? Why leave the ulti...

Helpful Tips for Battling Senior Isolation and Loneliness amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

As the numbers of those infected with COVID-19 grow, the dangers rise for America’s vulnerable populations. The elderly are at risk for the most severe consequences, so it’s essential to make every...

Grief Support Groups: Get to Know the Positives and the Pitfalls

Are you considering joining a grief support group? Maybe it’s something that you’ve thought about but are just now considering seriously. Or perhaps finding a bereavement group was suggested to you...

Creative Ways to Use Cremated Ashes to Honor Your Loved One

Over the last decade, cremation has become the preferred funeral option in the United States. By 2040, it’s expected that cremation will represent an astonishing 80% of all end-of-life dispositions...

Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services is Prepared to Safely Care for Our Families During the COVID-19 Health Emergency

While our nation continues to develop its response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services remains committed to providing the highest quality of care to families in...

The Protocol for Funeral Processions: Ten Things You Should Know

A key part of good funeral etiquette involves following the protocols for the procession. Even if you’ve never participated in one, chances are that you’ve seen a funeral procession—also known as a...