When we try to comfort someone who just lost a loved one, it would be easier to just take our foot and put it directly in our mouth and chew. One thing about it, we have great intentions but it does not often translate to being supportive and helpful to the person that we are trying to comfort. Many times, we say or do things that are easier (and not awkward) FOR US. I can say that I have been guilty of saying some of these things, who hasn’t.
When a person is grieving, it is not taboo to speak of the person who has passed. In fact, for some having discussions about happy and funny memories are welcomed. Know that when we grieve, there are a plethora of emotions that are felt. We will question many things, even question God sometimes. It is important to allow people to have the emotional space that they need in order to work through their grief. Do not take their reaction to you personally during this time, give them some grace. And try not to say some of these things to them (fight the temptation because MANY of us have these comments in our arsenal—it’s what we know).
10 Things NOT to say when someone is grieving.
How are you doing?
Well, they are gone to a better place?
Let me know if there is anything I can do.
You know everybody is going to die, I guess it was just their time.
S/He would have wanted it this way.
Everything happens for a reason.
I guess God just needed another angel in Heaven.
Are you still having a hard time; it’s been _____ months.
I know how you feel.
How did s/he die? Did s/he suffer?
Everything is going to be ok.
Say nothing, no acknowledgement. Just nothingness and crickets because it is awkward.
10 better things to say.
I will come over and cook you some meals for the next few days. I’ll take the kids to school (pick them up).
Tell me something funny about your loved one.
I remember when s/he did (something funny)
Let’s talk about how we can honor him/her.
You must really miss him/her.
I wish I had the right words, but just know I am here for you and I care.
If you want, I can come over and quietly sit with you. You don’t have to do anything.
I don’t know how you feel, I can only imagine.
I just wanted to reach out to you to let you know that I am thinking of you. You do not have to call or text back.
What do you need today?
Remember, after the crowd subsides, and things quiet down; there may still be a need and emotional support. Be mindful of how it appears they are doing. Offer to take them to grief counseling or a support group if it seems they may need it.