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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.

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    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.”

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Last Updated on June 13, 2019

    How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

    How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

    Think you have a boring life?

    The definition of boring is dull or not interesting. Maybe you’ve been doing the same thing and living the same life for too long, or maybe your daily routine is limiting your growth and happiness. Whatever your reason is, the following list of 20 things can definitely make any day more interesting. Some of them are silly, while some are more meaningful, so hopefully just reading the list makes your life less boring and sparks your creativity.

    Let’s dive in the list to quit your boring life and start living an interesting (and meaning) one!

    1. Channel Your 7-Year-Old Self

    What would he or she want to do right now? Color? Paint? Run around outside? Play dress up? Eat with your hands? Play that instrument hiding in the back of your closet that you haven’t touched in years?

    Just because you’re a grown up doesn’t mean any of this stuff will be less enjoyable than you remember it. Give yourself permission to play.

    2. Go Play with Kids

    Speaking of little kids, if you have your own or access to any (in a non-creepy way, like they’re your niece or your best friend’s kid, you get the idea) go play with them!

    They didn’t create an entire show called Kids Say The Darndest Things because kids aren’t hilarious. They also keep things so simple, and we can really stand to be reminded of this and stop allowing ourselves to get bogged down in boring details.

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    3. Order a Hot Dog

    While you’re eating it, Google: “What’s in a hot dog?” You decide whether or not you want to finish it.

    4. For the Ladies: Wear Your Sexiest Lingerie Under Your Work Clothes

    Your “little secret” will leave you feeling anything but boring all day!

    5. Play Cell Phone Roulette

    You’ll need at least one buddy for this. Scroll through the contacts in your phone, stop on a random one and call the person.

    You could spark an incredible catch up session or be incredibly awkward. Neither are boring.

    6. Fill out a Pack of Thank-You Cards

    Give them to random people who probably don’t get thanked too often for doing what they do ever day.

    Ideas: police officers, librarians, servers, baristas, cab drivers, sanitation workers, teachers, people behind any check out counter, receptionists, your friends, the guy at the falafel stand, etc.

    7. Sign up for a Class in Something You’ve “Always Wanted to Do”, or Something That Makes You Really Uncomfortable

    Ideas: pole dancing, salsa lessons, improv, pottery, cooking, knitting (yup, there are classes for this, too!), karate, boxing, something techy like the workshops they run in Apple stores, get Rosetta Stone and learn that language you’ve always wanted to speak, etc.

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    What’s good about joining an interest class is that you will also meet new people!

    8. Interview Your Grandparents About Their Lives

    You can bet they’ve had some crazy experiences you probably never knew about.

    9. Get up on Stage at an Open Mic Night

    Whether you’re funny or not, get up on stage and just talk funny. And if you’re not, memorize a few of your favorite jokes and tell those!

    10. Do Something for Someone Else That You Wish Someone Would Do for You

    We all have a few ideas on this list. I promise you will feel amazing after and anything but bored.

    11. Start a DIY Project in Your Home

    It doesn’t have to be super complicated. If you need ideas, there’re plenty on Pinterest. Or you can also check out these 30 Awesome DIY Projects that You’ve Never Heard of.

    12. Plan a Weekend Trip or an All-Out Vacation

    This will give you something to look forward to.

    Even if you don’t have the time or money to go on a vacation, plan for a staycation, which is same fun and relaxing!

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    13. People Watch

    Find a bench in a crowded area (centers of transportation like airports, bus stops and train stations are great for this!) and just observe.

    People are infinitely interesting.

    14. Eat Something You’ve Never Eaten Before

    Bonus points if it’s a random fruit or veggie.

    15. Dance

    You can get your friends together for a night on the town or just pull up a video on YouTube and bust a move from your own living room.

    If you’re feeling extra brave, you can even dance in public and get other people involved.

    16. Go to YOUTUBE and Search “Funny Pets” or “Funny Babies”

    This is also a great quickie ab workout as you will be laughing hysterically.

    17. Pick up a Book and Start Reading

    Check out the NY Times Best Sellers lists and grab a new book you can get lost in.

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    18. Step Away from the Computer and Go Get Some Time with People You Care About in Real Life

    Facebook stalking doesn’t count as real social interaction. You can even share this post with your friends and vote on which one you’d like to do together!

    19. Check out a Museum You’ve Never Been to Before

    OK, depending on your interests, this one might actually be boring. If you love learning, art or different cultures though, this one is for you!

    20. Write a List of Things You Desire and Truly Want

    This is a great way to help you figure out the real reason why you’re feeling bored about your life. Maybe you haven’t really done things that you truly enjoy? Maybe what you’ve wanted to do all the time has been left behind?

    Think about the list of things you really want to do, and ask yourself why you aren’t doing these things (yet). Then start taking your first step to make what you want happen.

    Now go make your life interesting and live your dream life!

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    Featured photo credit: Kev Costello via unsplash.com

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