Things best NOT to say to a griever:
- Your loved one is in a better place
- Don’t feel bad
- Don’t cry
- Be strong for the kids
- Stay busy
- Be grateful you had him/her for as long as you did
- Everything happens for a reason
- You’ll feel better in time
- Focus on the good times you shared
- I know how you feel
Although many of the above statements are intellectually true, they don’t help. Why? Intellect doesn’t heal a broken heart. They are going through significant emotional pain and intellectual comments imply that the griever is broken. Grief is the normal and natural response to loss, so there is nothing wrong with grieving. Grievers don’t need to be fixed. They need to be listened to without analysis, criticism, or judgment. Just being with them at this time of need is important.
Things TO SAY to a griever:
Ask, what happened (if you don’t know)
Tell me more about your loved one
Tell me some stories
I don’t know what to say” or I don’t have the words, but I’m here for you
Go ahead and cry. I’m here to be with you.
I can’t imagine how heartbreaking this is for you.
We are devastated with you.
May her/his memory be a blessing.
You are not alone in this difficult time
Follow their words – sometimes wait for them to speak and listen with your heart. I like the phrase, “listen like a heart with ears.” Not saying anything is ok.