It can be nerve-wracking trying to say the “right thing” and many times the very things that people think will comfort us instead only end up hurting us. Let’s look at some hurtful things that people say with good intentions.
“They are in a better place” or “They aren’t in pain anymore.” – No matter how much pain they were in or how difficult it was to care for them, at least they still were with us so this comment doesn’t help.
“I know exactly how you feel.” – Everyone is different just like every relationship is different. Even if you have experienced a loss, each person has their own unique path to travel so you can’t know exactly how we feel.
“You’ll feel better soon.” – We may be thinking that we will never feel better so presuming how we are going to feel may be very frustrating to us. Let us grieve and come to this on our own.
“Don’t you think you should be over it by now?” – This question is completely wrong. Most feel like they are never going to “get over it,” and it’s not very accurate to say that losing a loved one can be “gotten over.” The pain may lessen but the loss will always be in our lives.
“You shouldn’t be sad in front of the children.” – It’s appropriate for children to see us grieve so that they can show their own grief. Children may find it confusing to lose a parent and yet never see anyone grieve.
“I’m sure it’s what God intended.” – It’s very important to know a person’s belief system before mentioning anything about God. It’s better not to assume that we have the same faith or belief that you do.
“He wouldn’t have wanted you to be sad.” – Losing someone is sad, even if the loved one would not want it to be that way. This comment may make the survivor feel guilty that they are sad and they don’t need that added stress.
“Let me know if I can do anything to help.” – We may not know what help we need or it may be too hard to ask for help. Instead make specific suggestions and then ask us if that would be ok with us.
Misguided friends avoid painful issues thinking that they are sparing the feelings of those that are grieving, but not saying anything about the death is like saying that the loss is not important.
A griever’s emotions may vary widely during the course of the conversation so you can help by creating a safe place for us to talk. We want to talk and share our memories so please just listen and be there for us.