Three Words That Make Me Cringe

Three Words That Make Me Cringe

Gosh it seems that everywhere I look, and from everything I read, there are so many families experiencing horrendous grief and tragedy lately.  Children drowning, teenagers dying in car wrecks, teenagers drowning, businesses burning…so much sadness and horrendous grief.  I only know one of these families personally, so I see their social media accounts and all of the comments people are leaving them.  There are three words that I see over and over again that well-meaning people leave in the comments.  For whatever reason, these three words have become like nails on a chalkboard to me.  They are:

‘For your loss’

Here they are used in a sentence:  “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

I didn’t notice it until after my Daddy suddenly and tragically died from a massive heart attack and stroke.  There were hundreds and hundreds of comments on my FB page…and I am so thankful for each and every one of them.  It just shows how much Daddy was loved by so many people.  But during the following months, when I could actually begin to read the comments, that phrase stood out to me.  ‘for your loss’.  I guess because what I was feeling and what I experienced is so much more than just a loss.  Does that make sense?  I feel like a loss refers more to losing a wallet or your keys.  Those are things that you lost that you can find again.  But death, and the tragedies I mentioned earlier that these families are dealing with, is final.  You can’t go find your loved one in the next room or under the couch (that would be so nice if we could).  It’s not JUST a loss.  It’s a horrific altering of your everyday life.  It’s the rug being jerked out from underneath you and you falling flat on your back.  It’s trying to figure out how to live again without that person in your life.  It’s watching everybody else go on about their life while you just want to scream and shout and make everybody realize that you are struggling to get out of bed each morning.  It’s wanting to wake up and think it was all a terrible nightmare, but realizing that it’s now reality.

So to me, it’s so much more than just a ‘loss’.  I know for me it certainly was.  And I’m certain that for these parents who have had a child die, it’s way more than just a ‘loss’.  I know that it’s just what we have always said, as a culture:

“I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“They lost a child.”

“She lost her grandmother.”

Maybe we could kind of tweak what we say.  How about these:

“I’m so sorry for the heartbreak your family is experiencing.”

“I can’t imagine the grief y’all are going through right now.”


For whatever reason, those words resonate much better with me.  They just sound more heartfelt.  Maybe because, like I mentioned earlier, a ‘loss’ seems to fit better with an inanimate object.  Maybe I’m being too dramatic.  Maybe I’m being insensitive or judge-y.  I don’t mean to be and I’m sorry if it comes across that way!  I’m definitely not saying that the people who have said “I’m sorry for your loss” are rude.  I understand that many times, we actually have no words to say, and those just seem like the best words possible.  But maybe with a couple of tweaks, our actual feelings could be conveyed even better…and possibly even bring a little more comfort to those who need it.




Comments (5)

  1. Michele

    It’s so hard to say the right to someone who is in that much pain!! This helps so much. xoxox

    1. Melissa Cole


  2. JoAnne

    Love this Melissa! Couldn’t agree more! The words we speak at all times are very important, and with just a little “tweaking” they can make such a difference!

    1. Melissa Cole

      Thanks JoAnne!!!

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