When Someone is Grieving: What to Say + What to Avoid
When someone we care about one is grieving, it’s only natural to want help to make the person feel better. But sometimes, our good intentions can lead us to speak too quickly without carefully considering our word choices. When trying to comfort someone who is grieving, it’s important to remember that nothing you say will remove their pain, but it can help show that you are there to support them through life’s ups and downs.
Here are some tips for what not to say and what to say instead when offering comfort to someone who is grieving…
Don’t say: “I know how you feel.”
While you may have experienced the same type of loss as your grieving loved one, everyone’s situation and grief process is unique. Telling someone that you know exactly what they’re going through can feel like you’re trying to diminish their pain. Instead, let the person know that you are there to listen by saying this:
Try: “If you want to talk about your loved one, I’m here to listen.”
Don’t say: “It happened for a reason.”
Many of us do believe that everything happens for a reason, but saying this too early in the grief process can feel like you’re restricting them from the trauma and shock that they are experiencing. When a loss is recent, it helps to validate the hurt and help your loved one process fully. Connect with them, be vulnerably and that will fuel your connection with them.
Try: “I’m so incredibly sorry about what’s happened. I don’t have the words to say, but I’m here.”
Don’t say: “They wouldn’t have wanted you to be so sad.”
Everyone grieves differently and it is critical to their healing process that you support your loved one as they navigate their own journey with grief.
Try: “Your *insert relation* was so special; I miss them too.”
Don’t say: Nothing
Sometimes, there really are no words that you can say during a devastating loss and yet when we stay silent, our loved one may feel more alone than they are. In these times words can be minimal but important. Hug them, be a shoulder to cry on, and continue to remind them of your love, presence and listening ears. Death is one of the most difficult things for human beings to process, and it’s okay to sit and just be present for your loved one.
Try: “I just don’t even know what to say. I’m here for you.”
A Tip to Remember is never start your sentences with “At least” (example: At least you still have your kids, at least he has good medical care, etc.) That shows you’re just there to draw the silver lining and not sit with them, in their grief, to connect and care for their hearts.
When words seems difficult, try to write them in a card or send them a simple text. If you’re looking for more gift options to give to your loved one, check out our comprehensive gift guides. Find a journal, a book, or a gift set to send to encourage their hearts.