What to Say

Grief is a common experience that we will all share, but it is still sometimes difficult to know what to say or do to help a grieving person.  We can all learn how to better support each other when grieving. There are many things you can say to help comfort and support someone who is grieving, including  …

  • Acknowledge the loss – “I heard that your _________ died.” It is ok to use the word “died”.
  • Express concern – “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
  • Be genuine and honest – “I don’t know what to say, but I just want you to know that I care and I’m here for you.”
  • The loved one’s name – “________” was a good person and a dear friend of mine. I will miss him/her.” Talk openly about the person who died.
  • Ask how they feel – “Please tell me what you’re feeling right now – I have never been through something like this and I am here to listen whenever you are ready.” And then listen without judgment.
  • Accept silence – “We don’t need to talk about this right now if you don’t want to – just know that I’m here when you need me.”
  • Let them know they’re not alone – “We all need help at times like this – I’m just a phone call away, anytime.”
  • Offer support – “Tell me what I can do for you.”
  • Nothing – sit in silence, and just be with the person. Give them a hug or hold their hand.

AVOID saying things like “At least she is in a better place”, “There is a reason for everything”, “God needs him/her with him”, “I know how you feel”, “Be strong”, and “It has been awhile – you must get over this”. Minimizing, attempting to justify/explain, and putting a timeframe on the loss are not helpful at all.