Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult and emotionally trying experiences that we can go through. It can be challenging to know what to say to someone who has just lost a loved one, but it’s important to offer comfort and support during this difficult time. Here are some guidelines on what to say and what not to say to someone in grief, who recently lost someone who died.
Grief: What to Say
“I’m so sorry for your loss.”
This simple statement expresses sympathy and acknowledges the pain of the bereaved. Probably the most-oft used phrase for this situation, it conveys care without getting overly specific.
“I’m here for you.”
Let the bereaved know that you’re available to listen and provide support as needed. But only say this is you mean it. Don’t tell someone they can count on you and then walk away and forget that you made the offer.
“Tell me more about the person you lost.”
Tread carefully here. If you do not know the person well or the wound is still too fresh, give it time. While some people pause before asking about the person who died, many mourners appreciate it when loved ones allow them to share their heart. If they are willing, give the bereaved a chance to share memories and stories about their loved one. Listening and sharing stories can help the bereaved process their grief. However, this should be done only when they are comfortable doing so.
“I’m thinking of you.”
Innocuous and non-committal, this simple statement shows that you care and are keeping the bereaved in your thoughts.
“How can I help?”
Offer specific ways that you can assist, such as cooking a meal or helping with funeral arrangements.
“May I offer my condolences?”
This formal expression of sympathy is appropriate in many situations.
“It’s okay to cry and feel sad.”
Normalize the bereaved person’s feelings of sadness and offer validation.
What Not to Say to Someone in Grief
“I know how you feel.”
Everyone’s grief is unique, and no one can truly know how someone else feels.
“They’re in a better place.”
Avoid making assumptions about the bereaved person’s religious or spiritual beliefs. Even if you think the person may be in heaven or Nirvana, reserve that statement unless you’re confident you and the mourner are coming from the same place, spiritually speaking.
“At least they lived a long life.”
This statement can be dismissive of the pain of the bereaved and may not offer comfort. Even if the deceased live a relatively long life, their loved one would have probably preferred they live even longer.
“It’s time to move on.”
Grief is a process that takes time, and the bereaved may not be ready to “move on” immediately. Don’t consider yourself qualified to determine when someone else should be done processing their grief.
“Everything happens for a reason.”
This statement can be dismissive of the bereaved person’s pain and may not offer comfort. It also assumes that you and the mourner are coming from the same philosophical foundation. Not everyone believes that everything happens for a reason. So, just to be sure, don’t go there.
“They wouldn’t want you to be sad.”
Avoid telling the bereaved how they should feel or assuming what their loved one would want. No matter how well you know the person who died, you can’t safely assume you know what they would say in that situation.
“You should be grateful for the time you had.”
While gratitude can be a helpful mindset, it may not be appropriate to bring up in the immediate aftermath of a loss.
When supporting someone who has recently lost a loved one, it is important to offer comfort, empathy, and support. Listening, sharing memories, and offering specific ways to help can all be meaningful ways to show you care. It’s also important to avoid making assumptions or offering unsolicited advice. By following these guidelines, you can offer meaningful support to those who are grieving.
About Foothill Funeral & Cremation in Glendora, California
Funeral directing is a unique job. The reason we enjoy it is because we love helping families during their time of need. Drop by our Glendora showroom any time. In Covina, our relationship with Sacred Heart Chapel is the perfect place for mourners to host funerals and memorial services in a grandiose yet intimate setting. We proudly serve the San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles Basin, Orange County, and the Inland Empire. Working in the mortuary industry since 1996, we have worked hard to build a reputation of quality, sincerity, and trust. Please allow us to help you at your time of need or in the future. Call today (626) 335-0615 or drop by our showroom.