What to say and what not to say to someone who is grieving
As part of this year's National Grief Awareness Week, here are some helpful resources from our Bereavement Support Team with suggestions of what to say and what not to say to someone who is grieving.
What To Say And What Not To Say To A Grieving Person
When someone you know has lost a loved one, it is natural to want to comfort and offer words of consolation. However, you must be careful what you say because sometimes what you may think are words of consolation may actually be hurtful to the bereaved person. Saying things like “She is in a better place” or “He’s better off” can be offensive. For a person grieving, the better place for a loved one is here, not on the Other Side. Telling someone a loved one is better off dead will most likely be taken as a cold and callous comment.
The best things to say are those of a supportive nature. Stay away from judgments about the deceased person or his/her behavior. This is especially true in cases of suicide. Your place is to console, not to judge.
Acknowledge the person’s loss and avoid saying things like “I’m glad it was you and not me.” Don’t tell anyone what to do or to change his or her feelings. Don’t ask anything of a bereaved person other then what you might be able to do to help. Don’t put time limits on grief and say things like, “Time heals all” or “Life goes on.”
The following are some suggestions of what not to say and what to say:
Things Not to Say to Someone in Grief:
- You’ll get through it, be strong.
- He brought this on himself, it was his fault.
- She’s in a better place.
- It’s been a while, aren’t you over her yet?
- He lived a long time, at least he didn’t die young.
- God must have wanted her there because she was such a good person.
- You’re young. You can always have another child.
- I know exactly how you feel.
- I guess it was his time to go.
- Everything happens for a reason, life goes on.
Things to Say to Someone in Grief:
- I can’t imagine what you’re going through.
- I’m so sorry for your loss.
- I don’t know what to say, I wish I had the right words to comfort you.
- You, your family and your loved one will be in my thoughts and prayers.
- She was so nice to me; one of my favorite memories of her was…(share a happy memory of the person who passed)
- Whenever you want to talk, just know I am a phone call away.
- She was so wonderful, she’ll be missed by so many people.
- I’m your friend—I’m here for you.
- If you can’t think of anything to say, a hug may be appropriate, (covid permitting!)
- Sometimes just be with the person, you don’t have to say anything.
Remember, grieving the loss of a loved one is the worst pain someone can endure. Be respectful and polite. Don’t discount anyone’s feelings. Even if someone puts on a brave face and looks like he or she is handling it well, don’t assume that person is. Show that you care. Actions often speak louder then words. Offer to take them to the grocery store, watch the children for an afternoon, and help around the house. These gestures mean a lot to a person whose world has just been turned upside down.
If you would like to talk to someone about bereavement or find out more about our Bereavement services, please visit here