Advertising
Advertising

7 Things to Say (and Not Say) to a Grieving Person

7 Things to Say (and Not Say) to a Grieving Person

Your friend’s father just died and you’re in a panic.

young woman grieving

    “What should I say? What if I say something wrong?”

    Hey, it’s really not your fault our society is so death-and-grief-phobic. No one ever taught you how to be with someone who is grieving. Here are seven things not to say, along with better ways of saying them.

    1. Not: “He’s in a better place” or “Just be happy he’s not in pain anymore.”

    The place she wants him to be is with her, no matter how much pain he was in or how difficult the care-giving was.

    Advertising

    Better: “You must miss him terribly.”

    2. Not: “You’ll get married again” or “You can always have other children” or “At least you have your other children.”

    But the person he really wants back and is grieving for isn’t here and he will not ever be able to replace her. Honor that.

    Better: “I know how special she was to you and how much you loved her.”

    3. Not: “It’s time for you to get yourself together.”

    Advertising

    Each person’s path of grief is unique. Maybe it isn’t time for her to get herself “together” yet. Even if she is not functioning well enough to take care of herself or her family, it may be best to get friends and loved ones to pitch in to take care of the family for awhile rather than shaming her or having her feel that she’s “not handling this better.”

    Better: “It looks like this is a rough day for you. How about if I bring some dinner over about six?”

    4. Not: “I’m sure it will all be better soon.”

    Ouch! It’s so hard to watch a friend or family member grieve… we often want him to feel better so we’ll feel better! Remember, he may be thinking he’ll never feel better so presuming how he is going to feel in the future may be very frustrating for him.

    Better: “I’ll be here for as long as you need me.”

    5. Not: “God’s plans are always the best. It must have been what He intended.”

    This has the possibility of creating anger toward God or a higher power in the grieving person. Also, it’s very important to know the person’s belief system before mentioning anything about God or a higher power. Don’t assume the person has the same faith or belief that you do.

    Better: “I’m so sorry.”

    6. Not: “Don’t cry in front of the children.”

    Kids are often more upset by what they don’t know than what they do know, so many times it’s appropriate to model normal grief for the children.

    Advertising

    Better: “How are the kids doing with this?”

    7. Not: Saying nothing at all.

    This is actually one of the worst things that can happen to a grieving person: having people ignore his pain. If you’re not sure what to say, or are uncertain that the person wants to talk about it, it’s okay to say just that.

    Better: “I’m not sure what to say but I want you to know I’m here for you” and/or “Do you feel like talking about her death right now?”

    The best thing to remember when being with a grieving person is just that: be with her. Sometimes you don’t even need to talk. She just wants to know that you are okay to sit with her in her pain.

    Advertising

    But in case you’ve been worried about what to say while you’re sitting with her, I hope these ideas have been helpful.

    For more, check out my article on grieving, But I Don’t Know What to Say . . . how to talk with a person in grief.

    More by this author

    How to Manage Your Customer’s Stress 7 Things to Say (and Not Say) to a Grieving Person 3 Specific Ways to Reduce Anxiety Warning: Believing These 10 Famous Myths Might Be Making You Dumb 4 New Words to Help You Love Your Life Now

    Trending in Communication

    1 7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life 2 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On 3 What Is Your Destiny in Life? How to Mindfully Achieve Your Purpose 4 7 Signs of an Unhappy Relationship That Makes You Feel Stuck 5 10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

    7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

    7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

    What do I want to do with my life? It’s a question all of us think about at one point or another.

    For some, the answer comes easily. For others, it takes a lifetime to figure out.

    It’s easy to just go through the motions and continue to do what’s comfortable and familiar. But for those of you who seek fulfillment, who want to do more, these questions will help you paint a clearer picture of what you want to do with your life.

    1. What are the things I’m most passionate about?

    The first step to living a more fulfilling life is to think about the things that you’re passionate about.

    What do you love? What fulfills you? What “work” do you do that doesn’t feel like work? Maybe you enjoy writing, maybe you love working with animals or maybe you have a knack for photography.

    The point is, figure out what you love doing, then do more of it.

    Advertising

    2. What are my greatest accomplishments in life so far?

    Think about your past experiences and the things in your life you’re most proud of.

    How did those accomplishments make you feel? Pretty darn good, right? So why not try and emulate those experiences and feelings?

    If you ran a marathon once and loved the feeling you had afterwards, start training for another one. If your child grew up to be a star athlete or musician because of your teachings, then be a coach or mentor for other kids.

    Continue to do the things that have been most fulfilling for you.

    3. If my life had absolutely no limits, what would I choose to have and what would I choose to do?

    Here’s a cool exercise: Think about what you would do if you had no limits.

    If you had all the money and time in the world, where would you go? What would you do? Who would you spend time with?

    Advertising

    These answers can help you figure out what you want to do with your life. It doesn’t mean you need millions of dollars to be happy though.

    What it does mean is answering these questions will help you set goals to reach certain milestones and create a path toward happiness and fulfillment. Which leads to our next question …

    4. What are my goals in life?

    Goals are a necessary component to set you up for a happy future. So answer these questions:

    Once you figure out the answers to each of these, you’ll have a much better idea of what you should do with your life.

    5. Whom do I admire most in the world?

    Following the path of successful people can set you up for success.

    Think about the people you respect and admire most. What are their best qualities? Why do you respect them? What can you learn from them?

    Advertising

    You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.[1] So don’t waste your time with people who hold you back from achieving your dreams.

    Spend more time with happy, successful, optimistic people and you’ll become one of them.

    6. What do I not like to do?

    An important part of figuring out what you want to do with your life is honestly assessing what you don’t want to do.

    What are the things you despise? What bugs you the most about your current job?

    Maybe you hate meetings even though you sit through 6 hours of them every day. If that’s the case, find a job where you can work more independently.

    The point is, if you want something to change in your life, you need to take action. Which leads to our final question …

    Advertising

    7. How hard am I willing to work to get what I want?

    Great accomplishments never come easy. If you want to do great things with your life, you’re going to have to make a great effort. That will probably mean putting in more hours the average person, getting outside your comfort zone and learning as much as you can to achieve as much as you can.

    But here’s the cool part: it’s often the journey that is the most fulfilling part. It’s during these seemingly small, insignificant moments that you’ll often find that “aha” moments that helps you answer the question,

    “What do I want to do with my life?”

    So take the first step toward improving your life. You won’t regret it.

    Featured photo credit: Andrew Ly via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next