What to Say to Someone Grieving
Most times, there's nothing you can say to make the pain go away for someone grieving. Far from it, some may even react negatively to your attempts.
When dealing with someone grieving, we need to be really careful with the words we use and how we approach them.
It’s a sensitive time and emotions are raw; physical contact is a must in these situations.
Due to the sensitive nature, we wanted to go over a few things that you can tell someone grieving—and when you should keep quiet.
Because sometimes in our eagerness to help, we end up doing the opposite.
If you need to cry, go ahead
What did everyone always tell you when you were little and were crying? “Don’t cry.” What did they tell you when you were sad? “Don’t be sad.”
Bottling up your emotions is not good for anyone, especially not when a person is going through the grieving process.
You need to allow the person to express their feelings if they need to. Never let them feel as though this is something that they shouldn’t do or that they need to get themselves under control.
During these times, the best thing to do is just let them cry, scream and get their feelings out however they need to.
If you need me, I’m here
Related to the above, many people often run away from their grief. The experience is unbearable, so they check out.
This isn’t good either because a person who is grieving needs physical contact. A hug or even someone simply being at 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.
This way if the person wants to talk or suddenly needs to cry, they know they have someone by their side who loves and supports them.
So even if you feel uncomfortable, you need to stay by them. Some people believe that to overcome grief, you need to be alone. This is not so.
Believe us, they need you right now more than ever.
I know when you’re ready, you’ll get back to your life
Why do we like to tell people what to do? Between “don’t cry” and “now you need to look to your future,” we never cease in our attempts to restructure the other person’s life and tell them what we think they should be doing.
During these painful times, the last thing someone grieving needs to worry about is the future.
They don’t need to know what’s going to happen or what they need to do, because they already know! Right now, their attention is focused on their pain.
We need to let the situation resolve itself naturally. Don’t give up on them; they’re simply going through the grieving process. They know what they need to do, and they’ll do it as they see fit.
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.
A person going through the grieving process is really sensitive and you may have never experienced a similar situation.
Repeating this phrase usually incites a response like, “How could you know how I feel? This has never happened to you.”
Whenever we can, we need to avoid saying this and instead let the other person know that we can empathize with them to a certain extent. We may not know the exact degree to which they’re hurting, but we can understand.
Before you go, read: Don’t Let Your Emotional Pain Hurt Your Loved Ones
The pain will eventually pass. So, we need to respect it in every sense, including the time it takes to get past it.
Trying to pretend that we’re already past our grief or pressuring someone to stop grieving is bad.
It may take weeks, months or even years in some cases. Everyone is complex and unique.
How many times have you told someone grieving what they need to do? How many times have you said, “I know how you feel”?
Now you know how you can offer your support in the best way possible to someone grieving.