Things To Avoid When Talking To Someone in Grief

Last Update on June 28, 2024 : Published on June 28, 2024

Often, when people see someone grieving without meaning any harm, they say the best and the worst things to comfort the person. When someone is grieving, it is understandable that They might say something worse about themselves, but that doesn’t mean you can say anything.

Feeling the urge to talk to the person is normal, but the way it may come out may not be right. Therefore, when you speak with someone who is grieving, pay attention to the statements you make.

It might look like you are comforting them, but if the words come out wrong, it can make them feel weird, and they might not be able to open up or deal with the grief. In this post, we will help you understand the 10 best and worst statements you can use with someone who is grieving.

Greece leaves a lasting impact on the brain and mental health. It often makes the person feel sad, depressed, lose concentration, anxious, edgy, and irritable. Also, some people face trouble sleeping, which elevates the symptoms of grief.

If you know of someone mourning, you can change them into comforting words instead of unintentionally saying harsh words. But if you fear saying something abruptly, that might make the person feel worse.

This blog is just for you, and we suggest certain statements you can use with a grieving person.

What do grieving people wish people would stop saying?

Whether you’ve lost a loved one, a job, an identity, a pet, or a home, and you’re wondering what to say to people who are grieving and suffering from the loss, you are at the right place. Grief impacts brain function, leading to a grief brain.

At CalmSage, we understand this. Hence, we do not want you to say hurtful words to the grieving person without intending to harm the person. For example, people unintentionally tell a grieving mother who has lost her child saying it’s a blessing you have other children. Sometimes, people tell a grieving young wife that at least you are young and will find a new husband.

These statements are not to be said to people who are grieving and who have just lost a near and dear one. Knowing what to say and what not to say in such difficult moments is not easy, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to use any phrase if you can’t say something helpful, refrain from saying something that might hurt the person.

Before you utter a word, analyze what you are about to say, look at them, recognize their feelings, and try to frame the proper sentences that might come out right and help the grieving person deal with the pain.

How do You Talk to a Grieving Person?

1. Recognize their feelings:

Instead of asking questions like How do you feel talking about the state of mind? Acknowledge that what they are going through is really difficult and painful. Don’t hyperbole over their feelings. Give them a chance to briefly, and without judgment,

You can use the phrases like:

  • It is a difficult time for you.
  • Certainly, it is a rough time.
  • This is challenging.

Avoid using phrases like

  • How are you doing?

When you know the person is suffering, asking this question makes no sense. When you ask them questions like how you are doing, the person is hearing something different than what you are asking. Hope you are okay. People likely respond to them with pain or okay rather than honestly communicating their feelings.

2. Focus on the griever:

Your focus should be on the person suffering. Certainly, if they’ve lost a loved one after seeing them suffer, they might be relieved, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t feel the pain.

You might be tempted to say that, finally, the person is resting in peace, and there is no more suffering, but saying that loudly will not help the griever. It will only worsen things. Instead of using such phrases, you can

Use phrases like:

  • I am sorry you are hurting.
  • I am sorry you are suffering.
  • The pain you feel is understandable.

Phrases to avoid:

  • They are in a better place
  • It is good that they do not have to suffer anymore

During such sad times, when people use such statements, they seem to like that you do not empathize with their pain and that their loss is nothing because the other person is relieved from the suffering.

You must understand that they have lost someone dear to them, and it’s hard for them to digest it. So, when you say statements like they are in a better place and there is no more suffering, it only hurts the griever.

3. Offer Specific Help:

Instead of saying we are there for you, if there’s anything we can do, try to provide specific help. Think of the task that might be challenging for them to complete while grieving. Ask them if you can help them with the groceries or if they have a to-do list that they want to finish. Do that, no task is small or big; what matters is the effort you put into being there for the suffering person.

You can use phrases like:

  • I’ll come over to help you with the laundry
  • I’ll drive you to the nearest store if you need anything
  • I’ll drive the carpool
  • I am going to bring the dinner and will clean up your kitchen

Phrases to avoid

  • Please let me know if there’s anything that I can do for you.

There is nothing wrong with the phrase. It explains the intention of being there to help, but this vague offer and support sometimes overwhelm the grieving person and can put the responsibility on the bereaved to reach out for help. They are uncomfortable doing so during such a time, so do not burden them with extra responsibilities.

4. Ask About the Deceased:

When dealing with loss, looking towards the uncertain future makes it difficult to help someone grieving. Try to talk to them about the deceased and focus on the memories by asking specific questions about their loved ones. It is not that you are making them remember the person or reminding them that they have lost the person. You are trying to comfort them so they can open up and share their feelings.

Phrases you can use:

  • Let’s talk about your loved one
  • What do you remember most about them?
  • If you would like, you can share a fond memory of your time with that person

Phrases to avoid

  • You can always

If someone has lost a child or a partner, you might tell them that they can always get remarried or have another child. This might help them see that there is still hope, but you can’t say it to the grieving person as it might sound like you suggest a replacement. One of their biggest fears might be that they will forget the person who matters, and the bereaved might stop looking at the future.

5. Be empathetic:

Empathy is another great way to comfort a grieving person. Avoid comparing your feelings with the other person’s loss. Each person feels differently. You cannot say that you understand their feelings or what they are going through.

Use phrases like.

  • I can imagine how you are feeling
  • I have the realization that you are dealing with
  • I am sure this time is difficult

Phrase to avoid:

  • I know how you feel.

Everyone has experienced loss at some point, but that doesn’t mean you know how the other person feels. For some, it can be an overwhelming experience, while for others, tackling it is easy. So, by emphasizing that you know how they feel, you are not being empathetic.

You don’t know how someone experiences loss, and claiming that you know how they feel is invalidating their feelings. However, if it is a family member that you both have lost, you can say I know how you feel, but putting this out for friends will not help them.

Be supportive of their loss: It is difficult to face the reality of losing your near and dear ones. The loss of a loved one is the source of pain. Rather than brushing the feeling aside, focus on it. It is a non-negotiable aspect of life. When you accept it, the grieving process goes smoothly, and the grievers feel supported.

You can use phrases like

  • You must really miss them.
  • I’m sure you must be thinking about them a lot
  • You are probably remembering the memory, the time spent with them

Phrase to avoid:

  • This happens to everyone at some point in time.

Certainly, everyone does experience loss death as it is part of life, but putting it out and giving it as a perspective of minimizing the actual loss for the grievers does not work. When you say everyone goes through it, the phrase is often taken negatively, and the person feels you do not understand what they are going through. Family members do not want to hear this from anyone, especially while grieving. Hence, refrain from saying such statements.

6. Add a personal experience to your tribute:

Everyone will grieve differently and will have a memory of the person differently. Try to tie your memories of the deceased with the actual knowledge. Remember the good time spent with the person talk about that acknowledges the relationship you shared rather than the whole person.

You can use phrases like

  • I’d like to honor their memory in this way
  • I prefer to cherish their memories
  • This is how I will be celebrating my life

Phrase to avoid:

  • They would have wanted you, or they would have done the thing this way.

Unless the person who has died has planned the funeral and given specific instructions, you do not know what they would have preferred. Speaking for the deceased may be an invitation for unnecessary quarrels. Everyone has different relationships and views. It’s best to express your desire without assuming what the disease might have desired. Do not align your wishes with the desires of the person who has passed away.

7. Be Patient and Understanding:

Give the person the freedom to feel how they want to. Even if you think enough time has passed, it does not mean the same for the bereaved to acknowledge that each movement without that person is difficult for the grievers, and since no one grieves in the same way, there are different emotions. People show after and in the coming months, so avoid judging people based on preconceived notions.

You can use phrases like

  • You may not be feeling great, but it’s okay
  • I understand you are not yet ready, but it’s okay
  • You can take your time

Phrase to avoid:

  • You are handling the situation better than anyone could have expected.

You cannot know how the person is truly feeling. They might show you a happy face so you do not feel bad. So, when you say such assuring statements, you reinforce the idea that they should not Grieve for the loss of their loved one, Which is not right as this just stretches the grieving process and sometimes leads to different mental health issues.

8. Offer a Listening Ear:

Offering support is good. It goes a long way, whether you are giving a shoulder to cry or a listening ear simply stopping by to visit the person, no matter what the bereaved appreciate, knowing they are not alone. Remind them they can continue to lean on you before and after the Funeral, and you are there for them.

Phrases you can use

  • I am here for you
  • I’ll check on you in a few days
  • Can I come to sit with you?

Phrases to avoid

  • You are strong and will get through this difficult time.

You intend to empower the griever by saying such a statement, but it’s not the right time. They don’t have to act strong. It’s okay to grieve, to feel sad, and to rely on others for support. Saying such phrases just implies that they must rush through the process, regain their strength, and return to life.

9. Share Memories:

Another helpful way to help agree is to share the memories of their loved ones. You do not belong to their inner circle, even if you feel like that. It is okay. You are just giving a perspective of what the person means to you. It does not have to be a heartfelt moment or a positive memory. Just by sharing memories, you are making a connection.

You can use phrases like

  • Remember when?
  • I recall the time we spent
  • One time, we went

Phrases to avoid

  • Say nothing

Possibly, the worst thing you can do with the griever is to say nothing. This makes the person feel uncomfortable, unloved, and unsupported in the toughest moment of life. Therefore, if you think you cannot handle the situation, try not to face the freezer for people who have never experienced grief or expressed sympathy. It can be awkward to console an inconsolable person, but avoid it if you think you cannot handle the situation.

10. Avoid using religion to calm the person down:

When you know someone is grieving, do not try to alleviate the person using religious belief, as you do not know if someone is religious. Avoid using statements like I am praying for you. Even if you’re praying for the grieving person, avoid saying it, as the grieving person doesn’t need to share the same beliefs as you when you give these kinds of statements and condolences. It might spark anger or resentment, and the person can feel overloaded with unwanted religious messages.

Instead of saying, “I’M PRAYING FOR YOU use phrases like

  • Your family has been through a lot. I am hoping things turn around soon.

Phrase to avoid:

  • You are in our prayers.

11. Be clear in your statement:

Ambiguity and vague statements often offend the griever, and an unclear statement might be interpreted as empty emotion. Show that you care. If you want to express yourself, be specific.

Use phrases like

  • Let me take you out for a coffee
  • Invite them out.

Phrases to avoid

  • I’m here for you.

12. Ask them if they need help:

The grieving person does not actively seek help. They do not want to burden others with their responsibility, so they avoid asking. You should offer help by telling them you will take off the burden. Ask them if they need help with anything. If they want you to babysit, do their laundry, do dishes, or do anything else you can help with, give them specific things you can help with.

Phrase To Avoid

  • Is there anything I can do for you?

13, Avoid admiring the griever for showing strength:

You may see that a griever has a lot of strength and is not showing the actual emotions in front of you. You may like this, but it doesn’t mean you should express your Admiration for this strength.

When you do that, the grievers might feel isolated, and they do not get the window to open up and share their pain instead of admiring them for hiding their emotions. You can say I know You are going through a tough time, but I am proud of you for the way you are handling things. Let’s talk about your emotions.

Phrase to avoid

  • I don’t know what I would do if I were you

14. Be there for the person:

Time does the bones, but if the person does not acknowledge and process the pain, time does not work in the same manner as it might do for people who acknowledge and process the loss. Most people are not able to deal with the trauma in their lives and the grief, and therefore, when you’re talking to the person who is grieving, it is like you are doing a great job. I am proud of how you are handling things. Let’s talk about it.

Phrases to avoid

Time heals all wounds.

15. Best & Worst Traits of people just trying to help

When we see a friend or loved one grieving, the first desire is to fix the situation or to get them out of the grief. It is a good intention but can push someone into the grief zone. Therefore, you should know the right thing to say. Knowing the right thing is half of the responsibility. Being supportive and an emotional caregiver helps the person deal with the grief. They explain certain good and bad traits of people who try to help someone in grief.

The Best Traits

  • Be supported, but do not try to fix the thing
  • Talk about their feelings
  • Do not tell the griever how to behave
  • Admit that they have lost someone really close, and it’s okay to feel sad
  • Do not ask the person to change their feelings
  • Help them recognize their loss
  • There is no specific time for healing. Do not tell them that it is enough. Give them time to grieve.

The Worst Traits

  • Trying to fix the loss
  • Trying to give comfort
  • Give directions
  • Rationalize and try to explain the laws
  • Judging and criticizing the person for the time they are taking to grief

How do you encourage someone after a loss?

When someone is grieving the loss of a loved one, job, pet, or anything close to them, you should give them a listening year, provide them comfort during difficult times, and offer a helping hand with particular tasks. When you offer support and be specific about what you can do, the person can open up and say what they want.

Also, if you have not been able to be with that person physically, try to connect with that person by text message or a sympathy card so that they know you were there. Avoid making assumptions when it comes to offering support.

Ask them how to support them and follow through with what they want. If you feel comfortable talking to them, talk otherwise, and do not give them hopes that you cannot fulfill. Take time to listen and refrain from passing judgment.

How to Cope with grief?

If you are grieving, remember it takes time to cope with the loss. Allow yourself to express the painful feeling. Understandably, you are unable to process what’s happened. However, if you avoid the painful thoughts, feelings, and memory, you are harming your own mental and physical well-being. If you think that the grief is complicated, you are unable to handle it.

Talk to a mental health professional. When you block your feelings and engage in unhealthy behaviors to deal with loss, you might face clinical depression, PTSD, anxiety disorder, chronic pain, Binge eating, and your performance, both professionally and academically, go down.

When you feel low, you can write about your feelings or talk to someone. This will help you gain perspective, which often gets lost during emotional crises.

How to talk about grief?

When you think you are ready to talk to others about your feelings, you can keep the following tips in mind when talking about grief:

  • Select people intelligently with whom you want to talk. Some people are better listeners than others, while others are empathetic. Choose the right person at the right time because you can talk and share your feelings openly with a few close friends and family members.
  • You can join bereavement groups, which will help you connect with people who have faced similar losses and will not make you feel alone. Also, it has been observed that you are more willing to open up with strangers who share the same feelings than with family and friends. If you think you are sharing your feelings, it might bother them.
  • Talk to a mental health professional. If you need help navigating grief, seek help from a grief counselor or a therapist. These individuals will guide you to the most challenging times and provide helpful strategies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Key takeaway – Sum-up

Grieving is a normal process. Some people agree for a shorter duration, while others can endure it for longer. There is no right or wrong time or format for grieving. However, when you are connecting with the person who has faced the loss, there should be certain things that you should keep in mind.

About The Author

Ayush Yadav
Ayush Yadav

Aayush is a writer, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change and make people aware about the history. He holds a bachelor's in law, lives in the princely state Jaipur and is passionate about helping people in anyway possible. In his spare time, he is usually out with friends and enjoys exploring different facets of life.

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