Have you ever noticed that people say really dumb things when you're in a tragedy? When Chris and I were struggling through the affair, I was amazed at the things people would say. They ranged anywhere from being extremely insensitive to making it about themselves. I've heard similar stories from others. I have a friend who lost a child to cancer. Someone remarked in the receiving line at visitation that they knew how she felt -- they had just buried the family pet a week earlier.
I became very critical of others during our difficult time and wrote them off as shallow and uncaring. I expected many to pull through for me in ways that were probably unfair. They were trying to help and console the best they knew how. I learned to have more grace from my friend who lost the child. She commented to me that people just don't know what to say in a tragedy. After what she has dealt with, I'll take her word for it.
If you're in the middle of a tragedy, know that most people aren't really as inconsiderate as they appear; they may be uncomfortable and searching for the right words. If you are on the other side of tragedy, like me, you may need to look back and show grace to some; you've probably said some pretty awkward things yourself. And, a good lesson for all of us when dealing with those in tragedy -- it is okay to have no words. They usually just need a listening ear anyway.