When a difficult situation occurs, we might let our emotions get the best of us, saying things we don’t really mean. Or, we might say exactly what we mean but lack the necessary amount of empathy or imply something that isn’t right.
This can be taken as offense especially when someone dies, which we might have all experienced at some point. Grief, as we know it, is mentally and physically exhausting. We should all be able to naturally extend grace to someone that is in mourning, especially when they might slip up and say something that is kind and untrue. Grief can create a gap in communication with others.
But as believers, we must always understand this and consider how our words will be received, especially by those who don’t know the Lord or those who are new in their faith. Let’s talk about 10 phrases that every Christian should think through before speaking their thoughts after someone has died.
“Heaven is a better place now that they are in it”
When we say this phrase, we only have good intentions, and that’s a fact. What we want to say is that our dear one was extremely special and that wherever he/she might be right now, that place is better by their presence.
But while this might apply to our earthly life, this doesn’t mean it’s true for the afterlife as well. By saying this, we imply that Heaven isn’t perfect and that the presence of our Lord and Savior won’t be enough, but the presence of our loved one will be. So, it might be an inappropriate statement because we decrease the importance of God, by increasing the importance of our loved ones.
“If my tears were able to build a stairway, I would gladly climb to heaven and bring you home”
Although the thought of this is lovely, it shows that we would do anything to see that person again. And yes, it’s a proclamation of love, probably the most beautiful proclamation there is.
But this statement might also show how selfish and self-serving we are. Because we’re grieving, we can’t see that our loved ones might be in Heaven, in the presence of God, and that removing them from Paradise to bring them back to this broken earth is the most unloving thing we could possibly do. So we must try to remember that we can transform someone’s grief into confidence that they are right now in a much better place.
“They’ve earned their wings”
Like the other 2, this statement tries to show how special our loved one was to us, and that we always appreciated how spiritual they were here on earth, spirituality that will be certainly honored in Heaven.
But it doesn’t say anywhere in the scripture that we earn wings. In fact, if we were to go back to “Ephesians 2:8, it says: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works so that no one can boast.” Even though we would say this as a figure of speech, we must strive to represent God in His accuracy and think about what an unbeliever might think.
“We’ve gained a guardian angel”
In Hebrews 1:14, the Bible defines angels as “ministering spirits that are sent to serve those who will inherit salvation.” And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to imagine their loved ones as angels and the personal messengers of God?
Wouldn’t you want to know that you are protected by a deceased loved one, guarding you on behalf of the Lord? are protected by their deceased loved one, guarding them on behalf of the Lord?
Not only does it sound amazing, but it also expresses the love and adoration we have for the ones we love. Plus, it helps us feel closer to them, even though we don’t have them with us anymore.
“This gives us something to look forward to”
This is the given assurance for the children of God: they will all meet in heaven one day. Even so, we shouldn’t rush into wishing that day would come faster, as we have a duty in this life.
If the only reason you’re looking forward to Heaven is that you’ll be seeing your loved ones again, you should question how much you believe and understand God and the home He has prepared for you.
Plus, this statement might also damage how non-believers see faith or those who are young in their faith. They hear us speaking of how much we are in awe of God, our Father, and the glory that is waiting for us in Heaven. But when the death of a loved one occurs, we take the focus of Heaven away from our Lord and turn it to our loved one.
“I’ve lost the best part of me”
All of us have someone in our lives that always challenged us and pushes us to be better. We love this person truly, for who they are and for who we are when we’re with them. When that person is gone, we feel like we’ve lost the best part of us.
This statement is meant to communicate and express the deep bond we had with the person, and how we feel that they left a void in our hearts. While saying this doesn’t harm anybody, we must remember an important truth we learned from Psalm 16:2: “I say to the LORD ‘You are my Lord. Apart from you, I have no good thing.'” If you’re a Christian, Christ is what makes you good. In other words, Christ and Christ alone will be the best part of you. Praise God that we won’t ever lose Him!
“Gone too soon”
This is especially something that’s said when a child, teen, or young adult dies. Whether the death is caused by a serious illness or an accident, it’s extremely difficult to comprehend such a disaster.
It’s a situation that’s incredibly difficult to understand, which reminds us how broken and frail our bodies are. In this situation, we must remember that God is the One that has numbered our days.
Job 14:5 said: “A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” Psalm 139:16 says: “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
“If love alone could have spared you, you would have surely lived forever”
When someone we love is gone, we desperately want those around us to understand our pain. We want to remind everybody, and ourselves even more, that our love was as strong as humanly possible.
And by saying that our love would not only have spared their lives but also would have kept them alive forever, that’s what we do. The only problem is that we love with our human love, which is not as great as the love of our Heavenly Father. Romans 5:8 said: “But God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
“Those we love don’t go away, they will walk beside us every day”
This is a statement that might confuse unbelievers. Although there is great comfort in sayings like “Those we love don’t go away, they will walk beside us every day.”, there is no Biblical reference to back this up.
We might mean that our loved ones changed us, which is completely true. They helped us become the human beings we are today and in a sense, they are a part of us. But meanwhile, there is a misunderstanding, because the spirits of the dead don’t walk among us.
This mentality could bring either fear or false comfort to the one that doesn’t believe, which is why we should pay attention to what we’re saying.
“God’s garden needs flowers”
To someone who doesn’t believe in God, this might imply that God is a master game designer, and we are only pawns, waiting to be plucked up and replanted in His garden. But He is not that and neither are we.
Even though we might be tempted to speak in metaphors, we shouldn’t be tricked into believing what we say as well! This isn’t how we want to portray our Lord! Instead, we could picture them in Paradise doing what they were meant to do: glorifying God and enjoying Him forever!