What to Say to Someone in Grief

When someone we know loses a loved one, we often don’t know what to say. In order to say something meaningful, we dream up (think up) what we think is appropriate. Unfortunately, we can say something that, to the person receiving our comment, increases their hurt.

Trista has gathered the five most painful comments and the two most healing. Check out her blog http://herviewfromhome.com/what-to-say-when-a-loved-one-dies/

The Five Most Hurtful:

  • “Thank God you have another child.”
  • “She’s in a better place than we are.”
  • “You need to get on some medication.” (nerve, sleeping, etc.)
  • “You are young, you can still [remarry or have another child].”
  • “It’s time to move on.”

The Two Most Helpful:

  •  “I can’t relate to that, but I am here for you.”
  • “I don’t know what to say, but I will listen.”

Healing Comments the Bereaved may Say:

  • You are still my friend. In fact, I need you more than ever. I may not be able to devote the same time and energy to our relationship during my grieving time, but you are still important to me. Please do not give up on us.
  • You aren’t going to upset me by mentioning my loved ones name. I welcome you to bring him/her up and tell me a story.

Words of wisdom from Trista: “Grief does not have a time keeper. It is different for everyone and may take months to years depending on the support system the person has in place.”

When we project on to the bereaved what we think they feel or should feel, we tend to say something hurtful. Gently eliciting their feelings and sharing around what they feel keeps us on safer territory. Although we want others to recognize our good intentions, our most important task: ensure our presence, gestures, and words bring comfort.

Have you received a hurtful comment from a well-meaning friend? I’d like to hear from you. What has someone said that brought you genuine comfort?

About Grose

Gordon Grose loves most to write, speak, and preach on the message of hope from the book of Job. Using drama, video, and PowerPoint, he has preached and presented this message of hope to churches around the country. Grose pastored three congregations 25 years, then served 12 years as a pastoral counselor in a Portland, Oregon counseling clinic. He now serves with Good Samaritan Counseling Services, Beaverton, OR. A graduate of Wheaton College (IL), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Brandeis University, and Boston University, he comes from a rich and varied background in theological and counseling training. In 2015, Gordon published Tragedy Transformed: How Job's Recovery Can Provide Hope For Yours, a book about turning to Job for hope after tragedy. If you have experienced life challenges or personal tragedy, visit his Transforming Tragedy (gordongrose.com) blog to learn more. TragedyTransformed.com provides a sample of Gordon's speaking as well as an opportunity to purchase copies of his book.
This entry was posted in Death and Dying. Bookmark the permalink.