When somebody in the family died, we’d go to visit the family left behind to say that we cared. If they were far away we’d send handwritten notes and letters, but not just at funeral time, we’d do it later on so they’d know we remembered even after the funeral was over. Mom taught us to “do” something. True, this was in the age prior to Facebook, but even now, handwritten personalised notes are always appreciated more than a one line repetetive response on a computer.
When my mom died, some family friends came to the house at first, but after the funeral was over, my dad, sister, and I were left sitting and looking at each other. We weren't even able to think yet, much less function. We had plenty of people that said “I’ll pray for you” to us, but you know, it was a non-effort on their part. There was an empty house, empty fridge since we’d been busy with the funeral, and no food around. There was nobody that came over to offer my dad to run to the store for him, because he was pretty devastated in his grief. But there were plenty of “I’ll pray for you’s.”
I also heard a lot of “god’s will” stuff when my mom died. That’s when I stopped believing. I got through it, so did my dad and sister somehow, but we were all so much more cynical as a result of it.
So when my sister most recently died, I got a whole bunch of “I’ll pray for you’s” on Facebook. I know people sometimes don’t know what to say, so I didn’t take offense. But the one message I got was a handwritten letter from a month or two after from a dear friend that actually said something and let me know that he really cared. And you know what? He never once said that he’d pray for me. And it was beautiful.
So if you want to pray yourself that’s fine, but leave me out of your feel-goodisms, ok? If you want to pray for the kids in CT’s families, I’m sure they’d rather you sent them a couple of dollars for a burial fund for their child, or how about sending a tray of food in a week or so when the families are dealing with the vacant chair at their dining room table. Maybe you could send a couple of small toys for the rest of the children of the school. How about maybe sending a small monetary gift if you can to the parents to be used to get the surviving kids some mental health help. You could also do some volunteer work on their behalf. But it all requires that you DO, rather than that you pray.
Also, how about not assuming that your Jesus holding their little lambs pictures are appreciated since quite a number of the families affected were not ardent, or even Christians? Not everyone believes in Jesus, or even in god, though few are going to get into it on Facebook or wherever you’re posting the “I’ll pray for you”. If you’re sorry for the loss, just say so.