Five things not to say to someone who is grieving.

1. Call me if you need anything.

And I am thinking    “I have no idea what I need”

Or    “ I need so many things I know you wouldn’t ever be able to do them all”

Or    “I need my husband back, can you give me that?”

The reality is there are a lot of things, but rarely will I ask.  Right now, I’d just love it if you would take charge and say “I’ll be over tomorrow evening and we’ll tackle that thank you list together, ok?

2. Give it time, it will get better.

And I am thinking:  “How can you know that, you’ve never lost a husband.”

Or     “But it’s NOW and I am hurting. I don’t care about later.”

The reality is it probably will get easier in time.  The loss becomes less acute.  Time fills the space with other things, but the hole in your heart doesn’t go away. Better to say.  “This is hard. And I can’t know because I haven’t been through this yet, but I care about you and its ok with me if you cry.”

3.   God always takes home the ones he loves the most

And I’m thinking:  “Really! and where does it say THAT in the Bible”

Better to say: “I am glad to know that your husband was saved and that the Bible tells us he is in heaven with God right now. I know that doesn’t make you miss him less, though, and it’s ok if you are kind of mad at God right now for taking him. I think I would be too.

4. . I’m praying for you

Although this isn’t a bad thing to say, it may be much more comforting if you can focus on a specific thing that you will pray about and express that.  An example would be:  When I go to bed tonight I am going to pray and ask God to give you the ability to relax and sleep also.  In fact, I’ll just do that every night for a while.

5. Nothing

Most people say nothing because they either don’t know what to say or they are afraid that they will upset the person.  (They seem to be doing ok so let’s not upset them by mentioning it)

The reality is:        I never forget.  It hurts when I think you have.

Even if I cry, you will help me to heal if you acknowledge my loss.

Later, it will make me feel great when you remember my loved one and say so.

And the best thing to say that I have ever heard:  “I don’t know what to say and I don’t know what you need to hear.  But I am here.”

Has someone said something to you when you were hurting that really helped?  What was it? Will you share?




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3 responses to “Five things not to say to someone who is grieving.”

  1. Cherie Gagnon says :

    Thank you Kathy for being so vulnerable. By being truly honest you are helping others help those who are grieving. I agree that saying nothing is very hurtful. Sometimes a random note, email or flowers following the passing of a loved one is a nice way to let someone know that they are note forgotten.

  2. Sara Meisinger says :

    Good reminders, Kathy. It’s so easy to think you’re saying the right thing and not realize how the grieving person is hearing it.

  3. Susan Mires says :

    Such wise advice from someone who has lived it. Thank you, Kathy.

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