What to Say to Someone Who's Grieving

04 September, 2020
Most times, there's nothing you can say to make the pain go away for someone who's grieving. Far from it, some may even react negatively to your attempts.

The loss of a loved one tends to lead to a pain that’s characterized by longing, a loss of interest in the activities you used to enjoy, and recurring thoughts about the person that passed away. But, what can you say to someone who’s grieving?

Mourning is a sensitive time in the life of those who are going through it. Emotions are raw and being tactful is fundamental. Knowing what to say in times of grief is important if you really want to comfort the other person. Both the words you use and the way you go about it are vital.

Obviously, the words you say won’t make the pain go away. But it’s true that some words are more appropriate than others in these cases.

Below, we’ll provide you with some advice regarding what to say to someone who’s grieving… And what not to say. Because on occasion, in our eagerness to help, we end up doing the opposite.

Read: Grief, That Internal Process No One is Prepared For

If You Need to Cry, Go Ahead

However, bottling up your emotions is not good for anyone. Let the person who’s grieving to express their feelings if they want to. Don’t give them the impression that they shouldn’t, or that they need to hold in their emotions.

These are times of extreme intensity and, many times, people need to get it all out… Crying, shouting, expressing their feelings and emotions in some way.

The grieving process.

Discover: Learn About The Importance of Crying (The Right Way)

If you need me, I’m here

Often, people that are grieving isolate themselves from those around them. This may be out of discomfort, shame, sadness… But people that are going through the mourning process need contact. A hug or simply someone to stay by their side.

You don’t need to talk, even though we know that for some people, silence can be uncomfortable. However, the most important thing is to just be there for them. It’s important that they know that they have someone they can count on.

I know when you’re ready, you’ll get back to your life

During these painful times, the last thing someone who’s grieving needs to worry about is the future. All they can think about is their pain.

You should allow them to handle the situation for themselves. They know what they need to do, but they’re going through a difficult process. Right now, they need to focus all their attention on the here and now.

Don’t miss: Those Who are No Longer with Us Sleep in Our Hearts

I truly don’t know how you feel

We’re all used to saying, “I know how you feel,” to people that are going through a difficult period in their lives. What we don’t realize is that a better way to express our support is to say something like, “I understand this must be very difficult for you.”Saying “I know how you feel” can lead to an aggressive response.

Let the person know that you can empathize with them. You don’t have to know exactly how they feel, but you understand.

The grieving process has its own evolution. Therefore, you need to respect it in every sense and at all times. Trying to fake that you’re over it, or pressing someone to speed the process along is negative.

A couple mourning a loss.
You need to respect each person’s grief and offer support more than anything else.

Before you go, read: Don’t Let Your Emotional Pain Hurt Your Loved Ones

What else can you do for someone who’s grieving

Pain is a complicated process and it can be difficult to be helpful. Whatever the case, your help may be good for the person who’s suffering. We recommend avoiding the following mistakes:

Avoid judging a person that’s grieving.

As we said, it’s important to allow people to recover in their own time. Therefore, you should never judge people if you think the process is taking longer than you think it should.

Listen carefully before offering any advice

The person you’re trying to help will probably need a listening ear more than whatever advice you want to give. Simple talking about what they’re going through may help them feel better. Your listening–not your advice–is what they really need.

Don’t ask how they’re doing too often when they’re grieving

The response is obvious. So, when you ask this question, you’re not accepting that the person has suffered a loss. If you want to know how they’re doing, ask how they’re doing today.

Whatever the case may be, being there for them will do some good. We recommend following the above advice if you want to make someone who’s grieving.

  • Publishing, H. (2010). Ways to support someone who is grieving – Harvard Health. Retrieved 23 April 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/ways-to-support-someone-who-is-grieving