Responding to People in Grief

People often try to confront grieving people with inappropriate comments coming from one owns discomfort, awkwardness, and fear. These are things NOT TO SAY:

  • I know just how you are feeling.
  • You have to be strong.
  • You are lucky you had children.
  • At least he/she went fast.
  • Do not cry — it will be over soon.
  • It must be a terrible blow.
  • It must be a relief not to have to get up every hour at night anymore.
  • Time will make it better.
  • You are doing so well.
  • It was God’s will.
  • Keep busy-you will forget.
  • This happened for the best.
  • Are you over the worst of it?

  • Boy, that was really fast.
  • Smile.  It could be worse.
  • It is time to get on with your life.
  • She/He was so sick-it is good it is over.
  • Oh, but you have such good memories.
  • I know how you feel; when I went through ...
  • You are too young to be a widow.

To a partner:

 

To a parent:

 

Pregnancy/infant loss:

  • At least you had twenty good years with them.
  • Aren’t you glad you did not marry them?
  • You will marry again.

  • You still have one child. Be thankful for what you have.
  • Now you have an angel in heaven.
  • You can have another child.

  • You are lucky; it might not have been normal.
  • Do not be so down, it is not as though you lost a child.
  • At least you did not have to bring it home or get to know the baby.

There are simple ways to respond that show the person you care and will be there to support them. These are things TO SAY:

  • I am sorry for your loss.
  • Is there any specific way I can help you right now?
  • I cannot even imagine how much you are hurting.
  • Can I call you and check in with you every so often? (Do not expect them to remember to call you.)
  • I promise I will be here for you. (Only say if you can be there.)
  • Would you like to talk about it? I want to hear what you have to say.
  • It is OK with me if you cry. (Show emotion.)
  • If a grieving person asks, “Why did this happen?” It is best to answer, “I do not know.”

  • Just reaching out a hand, being there in silence, and letting them have their feelings is helpful.
  • Sometimes just sitting with someone without having to say anything is the greatest gift you can give a grieving person.
  • Do not stop trying to make contact over the months, unless they CLEARLY ask you to, they will appreciate your care even if they cannot take you up on it yet.
  • Sometimes it takes weeks or months before a grieving person is able to reach out for help.

This information came from HospiceCare of Boulder and Broomfield County. Phone: 303-449-7740, info@hospicecareonline.orgwww.hospicecareonline.org.

To return to Office of Victim Assistance's Grief and Loss/Death Overview page click here