What Do You Say to Someone Who Is Grieving?

heart shaped trees on grassy knoll with vineyard in foregroundYou know someone who is grieving, and you happen to see them. What do you say?

Fear about what to say to a griever is common. Most people are uncomfortable around someone who is grieving because they’re afraid of saying the wrong thing. Since they have no idea what to say, often they simply choose to avoid the griever.

The most important thing anyone can do is to let the person who is grieving know that you care. Give them a hug, show them your concern for what they’re going through, and tell them you want to help (and mean it)!

Then, depending on the circumstance, you may say:

•I’m not sure exactly what to say, but I want you to know how much I care. Is there something you need that I can do for  you?
•I know this is a tough time. How are you doing today? Is there a way I can help?
•If you need someone to talk to, I’ll listen.
•I’d like to help, but I don’t know what you need. Tell me what I can do.

Some things never to say are:

•I know how you feel.
•It’s time to get on with your life.
•He/she is in a better place now.
•You’ll get over this.

Grieving people long to know that you care. Show your love and compassion—and once you get past the initial uneasiness, you’ll be in a position to make a positive difference in someone’s life. Be courageous and take the step.

Words alone are cheap. Actions with words show that you really do care.

©  2012 Judy Brizendine

About Judy

"Out of your deepest pain comes your greatest gift." Judy writes about grief and loss in a realistic, practical way - to help, inspire, encourage, and educate any who face loss in their lives. A fellow-traveler's approach to grief ...

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2 Responses to “What Do You Say to Someone Who Is Grieving?”

  1. Sandra Keith says:

    Last week I posted on FB how much I missed my husband and someone commented that “God’s timing is always perfect.” I wanted to write back and sear them on both sides. As a Christian, I know all of that. Does it mean I don’t miss Jim? Does it mean I shouldn’t be grieving? People say the most hurtful and stupid things and while they are well-meaning, they would be better off to say nothing. A hug or an “I’m so sorry” goes a long way. And while I’m thankful Jim is with the Lord and out of the Parkinson’s diseased body, I miss him and I think that feeling should be acknowledged as valid.

    • admin says:

      I’m so sorry that you’re hurting, Sandy. Regardless of everything you know, even as a Christian, you still miss your husband whom you loved before and still love now. That has not changed, and never will. And it doesn’t mean that you should not grieve over his death. Grieving is natural, and you’re doing just what you’re supposed to be doing. I’m sorry you’ve had to hear hurtful remarks — and yes, they do hurt! Even though people don’t mean to say the wrong things, often they do. Just know that you have every right to grieve the loss of your husband whom you dearly love. And you have the right to grieve in your own way and in your own time. There are people who support you and who care about what you’re going through, and who understand how difficult the grief process is. If possible, try to remind yourself of those things when you hear something hurtful or well-meaning, but upsetting. People just don’t always understand, especially if they haven’t been where you are now. God bless you as you continue this journey of love toward healing.