on the problem of platitudes

why do they have to be so prominent during the tough times for people needing support??!! (not just in loss through death but maybe job loss, position loss, sense direction loss, etc..)

in my opinion the main problem of platitudes is that they reveal a lack either of the following: understanding; empathy; compassion; depth of insight; connection to reality or pain and suffering.

i know it is dangerous to overthink issues and people and to assume too much but still….

A platitude is a trite, meaningless, biased, or prosaic statement, often presented as if it were significant and original. The word derives from plat, the French word for “flat.” Whether any given statement is considered to have meaning is highly subjective, so platitude is often—but not always—used as a pejorative term to describe seemingly profound statements that a certain person views as unoriginal or shallow. An example of a platitude could be “go with the flow” or “The only thing to fear is fear itself.”  See Dictionary.

or in church culture some examples might be:

  • God will get you through it…
  • Find out what God’s will is and do that…
  • God is in control…
  • Keep your focus on the Lord…
  • They are in a better place now…
  • All in his timing…
  • let go and let God…

the list could go on and on and on.   these are basic truths that are not untruths per se, but simply stated in a flat and often trite, meaningless way (often unintendedly).  when stated, they usually grate and don’t comfort.

please, for the love of God, if you are with someone needing support, make every effort to avoid platitudes?  most of us just say them without realizing it – I know I have and I too need to work on it – it isn’t very loving or supportive.

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8 responses to “on the problem of platitudes

  1. I absolutely hate when I hear this kind of thing. To add one that irks me to no end–“God must have needed him/her more than you.” I just makes me want to spit nails! Or, “He/She is an angel now and is watching over you.” I’ve heard this kind of σκύβαλα so many times. It’s absolutely no help. Wishful thinking at best–outright deception at worst.

    • Or “You just ought to rejoicing that he is with the Lord”. Oh I’m telling you the next person that says that to me is going to get slapped. Platitudes are the worse when you are grieving a loss of a child or loved one, especially a child of any age.

  2. Some people actually like hearing those things and hold onto them and remind themselves when they’re going through whatever it is there going through. I may not care to hear them and wouldn’t tell them to anyone but not everyone sees them the same way. All that to say be careful about belittling those statements in front of people who take comfort in them.

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