Platitudes. This is a day I want everyone to think about the platitudes they use.
First one: He/She is in a better place now.
Well, that's assumptive, for one thing, and it's not helpful to the grieving person. What it feels like, to the person hearing it, is this: he/she is better off away from you. Now I know that isn't what they are saying, or mean, but it seems to minimize the value of their life, as if being dead is better. Try not to say this.
Second one: Heaven has a new angel.
Well, this is mangled all to heck. Even in the most fundamental of Christian religions, people don't turn into angels when they die. Angels are angels, and human souls are human souls.
Are there any platitudes that bother you particularly?
There are a lot of them, usually spoken by people who want to offer comfort and don't know how. There is something I came across not too long ago, when I was reading the Book of Job again. His friends held vigil with him for a week, sitting in silence. They did more good doing that than they did when they started offering advice. Be still with them, and hold them. I know it is uncomfortable, but if you truly want to help, holding and sharing that space is the most humane thing. No talk about the afterlife, no religious or secular homilies, no implications that death is a blessing (even when it is). Now is not the time to make yourself feel better and walk away. You don't have to fill the silence. Have tea, or a glass of wine. Hold hands. Stare at the wall. Hand tissues.
I have a horribly dysfunctional family when it comes to grief, and I've had to learn my way through it without what I've come to understand other families do. My memories of family funerals are full of interpersonal drama and conflict, or complete avoidance. Strangely, like family holidays tend to be. If you have a family like mine, you come to not expect much, or ask for anything. It's a bad habit to get into, because it is isolating. Personally, it's one of the reasons losing my mates has been so harsh.
As for the other folks in your life, while you are still sitting there in your sackcloth and ashes, in your widow's weeds and armbands, others are tipping their hats and moving on. It is not their grief, and most people are not going to stay there with you. Bless those that sit and listen. Bless those that don't forget you are still there. Bless those that take the time to formulate an honest and individual response to you, rather than falling back on a platitude. Because then you know they are present with you, and that moment of not feeling alone is a treasure.