“I Know Exactly How You Feel”

Last week I was preparing for a funeral service. It was just like any other day for me. The memorial table was covered in memorial photos, programs, and the guest book. The urn had been shined and was perfectly centered beneath a photo of the deceased in the front of the chapel.

There was music playing softly in the background—not the slow, somber hymns you’d expect at a memorial, but an upbeat big band playlist …her favorite.

As the numerous floral arrangements started to arrive, I began arranging them in the chapel, opening the condolence cards and facing them outward to display the heartfelt messages inside.

When I got to the final card, I stopped. There were six words on the card.

“I know exactly how you feel.”

Immediately, I felt heat rise to my face, and I fought to suppress the anger I felt welling up.

So often when there is a loss, we scramble to find the words to say to the family, and so often, we find the wrong ones.

“I know exactly how you feel.”

We tend to follow this statement with an unsolicited story of a loss that was personal to us and how we dealt with it.

We make it about us.

You don’t know exactly how they feel. Have you had loss? Maybe. Did it hurt? Probably. That being said, YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW THEY ARE FEELING.

Dealing with loss is a lot for someone to carry. Steering the conversation to yourself only serves to add weight to an already incredibly heavy load.

“I’m sorry you’re hurting.”
“I love you.”
“I’m here.”

All acceptable alternatives.

Let’s not make this about you.

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