Talking to someone who is grieving can be one of the most difficult things a person has to do. You want to be supportive, but you also want to say something that will make them feel better and not make it worse.
7 Simple Things To Say To Someone Who Is Grieving
“Let me do that for you”
Offering to do practical things for someone who is grieving is one way you can show your support. Sometimes simple tasks like going to the store can be overwhelming to a person distraught by grief. Offering to run errands, cook a meal (and maybe eat it with them!), or do household chores can be a welcome respite.
Don’t wait for them to reach out.
Offer and then arrange to follow through. It’s never easy to ask for help, and even more difficult when your emotions are physically and mentally draining.
“Tell me some stories about your loved one”
Giving a person a chance to realize that not only are you NOT afraid to talk about their loved one, but that you really WANT to hear about them can be a huge blessing! Often when a person passes, people are reluctant to bring up their name out of fear of upsetting those who miss them. But, typically, just talking about the person, using their name, remembering happy times, and knowing that their life left an imprint in this world can bring a lot of comfort.
“You are important to me”
Grief can be lonely and can isolate individuals as they try to cope with the new, unwanted normal around them.
Reminding them that they are important to you is vital.
It’s not enough to say it’s implied, the words need to be heard and felt.
So send a card, call on the phone, or drop by for a short visit.
Let them know that they matter to you and that you care.
“I miss them too”
When a person passes away, a void is left in this world. Obviously, close friends and family are affected in a more profound way, but the absence of this person can be felt by everyone who knows them, even casually.
Telling the bereaved that you miss this person, too, and how your world is a little sadder without them reminds the person that their loved one was….loved!
It can also help them feel less lonely as you can share your experiences with their loved ones. Sharing your sadness also reminds us that memories matter and that while gone, the loved one won’t be forgotten.
“You don’t have to apologize for your emotions.”
I’ve often talked to grieving friends who apologize when they tear up. We need to create a relationship where a person suffering grief has a safe place to express their emotions without embarrassment or fear of looking weak.
Likewise, some who are grieving may be more quick-tempered than usual, or even sometimes prone to laughing more. All of these emotions are normal in times of great loss, and it’s important for those around the grief-stricken to understand and validate that the feelings are okay, and not taken personally.
“I’m sorry this happened to you, do you want to talk about it?”
Grief is more than feelings, it’s coming to terms with drastic and often traumatic life changes that have been brought on to a person.
Acknowledging that something terrible has happened and then actively listening can be helpful as they process the trauma.
They may want to share details of what happened, or they may not want to talk about that. Just be a good listener, making sure to validate their pain without trying to belittle it by adding anecdotes about how you’ve handled something similar.
Because everyone’s pain is different.
And when it is real and raw, sometimes they just need to be heard to process what they are feeling.
“I’m here. Anytime. However long it takes”
You can’t put a timeline on grief. It will come in waves. Sometimes the person will have a good day, followed by a bad week. It’s a journey, not an event.
There is no timeline.
Acknowledging that pain has no terms and that you will be a friend for as long as they need it can be extremely comforting. Bereaved individuals often feel like they “should” feel better when they don’t. So be a friend who says “it’s ok”.
7 Simple things to say to someone who is grieving a profound loss
There are no magic words that can take away the pain of losing a loved one. But the heart behind what you say can be medicine for a wounded soul. More important than WHAT you say is how sincere you are with your words, and how intentional your follow through is after.
When you are walking beside someone who is grieving, write reminders on your calendar to check in with them.
Call them up once in a while.
Your presence emotionally will mean the world to them in a dark and isolating time.