After another mass school shooting yesterday in Florida that left 17 students and teachers dead, the masses of social commentary, as well as the County Sheriff in charge of the investigation, can only say “may they rest in peace”.
We have been wondering for a while now where these politically correct sayings come from. Unfortunately, most of them come from religion which is the great backdrop against which people search for comfort and answers in death. Unfortunately, a growing number of us have dispelled with religion, so these statements are meaningless to us, and in some cases downright offensive.
From our position of reason and secular thinking, “rest in peace”, “prayers sent”, and most other non-personal epitaphs are empty of meaning and moronic at best. These statements are not heard or felt by the dead, and family and friendly survivors are hardly helped by these “sayings”. We know it is difficult to know what to say to senseless death and destruction, especially of young people in their prime. Yet, it sounds and feels so trivial to hear and see these expressions at every wake, funeral, or social media posting regarding those who have died.
So, what DO we say to survivors of the dead? We suggest that words are cheap. Hugs, cooking a meal, help with expenses of burying and remembering the dead…actions speak louder than words, especially in these scenarios of comforting the living.
The worst things to say are…”he/she is in a better place”, “they are at rest now” (no, they are dead), “It was God’s will”, or “I know just how you feel”. None of these statements are true or helpful, and disingenuous at best. Those statements are just about you and your beliefs or inability to truly care or communicate.
So, next time we want to express “condolences” (which might be one of the best words to describe our sentiments), think before you speak or write. Make your expressions more personal and do not assume that the victims or their loved ones appreciate trite expressions. A simple hug, nod, shedding tears with them…THAT is the true expression of solidarity with those who have lost a loved one. God had nothing to do with willing these deaths, and instead, it is much more humane to deal directly with the cause and effect of these tragedies.