Sometimes, when we lose a person close to us or experience an event of loss, people will try to console and comfort us. Those with religious background will often fall on clichés that may do more to hinder than to console. Their intentions are good and most responses should be met politely and with due courtesy of thanks. However, I thought I would issue some responses solely for our inner minds and how we really would like to respond:
1) God Only Gives Us As Much As We Can Handle Inner Response: "Sometimes, he is far too generous"
Often when I hear this one, I am tempted to point out where people have committed suicides and say that maybe God misjudged the situation. The subtext here is that no matter what "you can handle this". It is very similar to "I will pray for you" as it relieves the comforter of any real obligation or commitment to actually helping the person they are trying to console. Words really can be cheap if they are not backed up by action.
2) He/She's In A Better Place
Inner Response: "If it is better there then why are you hanging around here?" It is amazing that such a declaration can be given with such certainty when in reality, no person has ever come back to life that can verify the existence of an afterlife.
3) I Will Pray For You
Inner Response: "Thanks. I will pray that your prayers are working. Then you can pray that my prayers for your prayers are efficient. Then we can make notes and see who has the more success. If our prayers are not effective, I will have to fire you and look for another effective prayer person." This cliché serves no other purpose than to relieve the person issuing the condolences of any further obligation. How are we to know that they are actually praying? We know by the follow-up. Someone of true concern will follow up at some point in the near future. The ones you never hear of again until the next social function won't follow up with a prayer let alone a thoughtful gesture.
4) It Was God's Plan
Inner response: "Why would God have me go through the rest of my life with this heartache if he loves me?" When no intelligent reply is forthcoming, this is usually followed by "God works in mysterious ways". To which the reply could be "So mysterious that you may have been completely wrong that it WAS part of his plan."
5) God Helps Those Who Helps Themselves
Inner response: "So if I am helping myself to a gluttonous third plate from a buffet...??? This one is basically taking God out of the equation. It also is saying in a roundabout way that God doesn't help those who cannot help themselves. So if they need help, too bad.
6) When God Closes A Door, He Opens A Window
Inner response: "Let it be a bank window with an open safe." This one makes me feel like God is just playing around and treating me as a lab rat. "Hmm, so this door is closing. Let's see what you do when I open this window on the 32nd floor...in the next 60 seconds before closing it again."
7) Ask And You Shall Receive
Inner response: "I've been asking for that winning lottery ticket. What's the hold up?" This is met with one of two responses. "You didn't pray hard enough". No one knows how hard I prayed and they can neither tell me what I would need to do to "pray hard enough". The second response is "It was not part of God's plan". Really? That caveat was not mentioned or tagged onto this cliché. It is an important feature that ought to have been stated.
8) We Are All God's Children
Inner response: "Yes. God loves the non-believers every bit as much as the believers. In fact, he may love the non-believers more because they won't be swindled by not asking for proof in life." It is funny how this Christian saying seemingly incorporates everyone but then has a caveat about only those who have a relationship with God. I have a relationship with my cousin and if he has a relationship with God, there is a connection, right?
9) God Doesn't Have Favorites
Inner response: "Weren't the Jews God's chosen people?" The Old Testament is filled with stories of God siding with Israel over her enemies. Jesus had Judas as one of his favorite disciples which didn't work out well although again, it was part of the plan.
10) I Am Sorry For Your Loss. Heaven Must Have Needed Another Angel
Inner response: "How can a place of perfection need anything further? Need signifies incompletion. Incompletion signifies that something isn't perfect." I've always had a problem with a place that represents infinity but able to accept finite beings into the club. If our death is an end and we are transformed into beings of an infinite amount of time, there is still a question of our beginning of that infinite place. That which has a beginning will again have an ending.