What to Say to Someone Who is Grieving

Posted on January 20, 2021 by Bevis Funeral Home under Dealing with Loss, Grief Support
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When someone close to you is grieving the loss of a loved one, it can be difficult to know what to say. Here are some ideas to help you find the right words.

Just Say Something 

The fear of saying the wrong thing can be crippling. It can be tempting to avoid someone entirely if you don’t know what to say, but ignoring someone when they need you most can make a tough situation even more difficult.  Simply reaching out with a brief text, or a few words in passing in the grocery store, can mean the world to someone who is experiencing loss. The act of reaching out and letting someone know you are thinking of them is a kindness in itself.  

If you’re worried about saying the wrong thing, keep in mind that listening is more important than talking anyway. Simply being there for someone can be a tremendous source of comfort. And do not be cryptic – it is best to be clear and direct, instead of speaking vaguely of the situation. Reach out, keep it simple and show compassion.  

Example #1: I am so sorry to hear of your grandfather’s passing. He will be missed by many. 

Consider the Relationship

Comforting words are not one-size-fits-all, so it is important to consider your relationship to the person who is grieving. If you are close friends from the same church, it may be appropriate to express a sentiment such as, “He is in a better place,” or “I know it is in God’s hands.” If the grieving person does not share your spiritual beliefs, those same words could be unwanted or even offensive. Be considerate of others’ beliefs and practices. If you do not know, it is safer to simply express your support rather than insert your own beliefs where they might be hurtful. 

If the grieving person is close to you, or even if they are not, they may want to talk about how they are feeling. Talking can be an important part of processing grief. On the other hand, if someone is clearly trying to change the subject, do not be pushy and continue to bring up their loss. Be sensitive and read the situation to determine the appropriate response. 

Example #2: I am so sorry for your loss. Please don’t hesitate to call me any time if you want to talk. 

Share Memories

In many situations, one of the most meaningful things you can do for a grieving person is to share memories. Sharing your fondest memory of a person who has passed away, or writing down a personal anecdote, provides something positive to reminisce upon. Even jotting down an important memory on a simple card can be a tremendous gift to someone who is grieving. It gives them something tangible, and comforting, to hold onto for years to come. Highlighting the most joyful moments of a deceased person’s life can be a bright spot during a time of darkness for their family and friends. 

Example #3: There are no words to say how sorry I am to hear of your sister’s passing.  She was such a generous person and a joy to all who knew her.  

Show Active Support

“Let me know if you need anything” is a common phrase to say to someone who is grieving, but it can come across as an empty gesture. It is more meaningful to offer specific, tangible support. For example, you could offer to drop off dinner for a grieving person on a specific night, or assist them with school drop-off and pickup. Show that you are there for them in action, not just in words. 

Another aspect of supporting a grieving person is being there for them after the funeral ends. Reaching out on the anniversary of a loved one’s passing is a thoughtful way to show someone you are thinking of them, and actively supporting them, continually. 

Example #4: What time will you be home this evening? I would like to drop by with some dinner for you; I ordered your favorite Chinese food. 

Example #5:  I wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you today. 

Because no two people handle grief the same way, there is no be-all-end-all way to comfort someone who is dealing with a loss. Simply showing up and ensuring someone knows they are not alone is what truly matters, and what will bring comfort in a difficult time. 

If you are dealing with the loss of a loved one, Bevis Funeral Home is here to support you. It doesn’t matter what time of day, or what day of the week you need support, we’re here for you. You can access online counseling services, join in group grief support, or watch our interactive videos, anytime: 24/7. No matter how you feel at this moment, you have our commitment – you’re never alone. Learn more at https://www.bevisfh.com/grief-and-healing/  

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