Around the world, 2 people die every second. Every so often, it will happen to someone you know.
Few things in life can be as awkward as knowing what to say to a grieving friend. After all, the grieving process is unique for everyone.
Knowing what to say to someone who is grieving is as important as knowing what you shouldn’t say. In this post, we’ll consider both.
Read on to learn what to say when someone dies (and what you should never say).
What NOT to Say to Someone Grieving
Here are some examples of what you shouldn’t say to a grieving friend.
1. “I Know Exactly How You Feel”
Bottom line: You don’t. Even if you experienced a similar loss, you have no way of knowing exactly how someone else feels.
Statements like this—rather than being comforting—only minimize the person’s pain.
2. “She’s in a Better Place Now”
This is one of those empty cliches that is supposed to bring comfort but instead is hurtful.
Whether the grieving person believes in an afterlife (or not), they want their loved one here with them—not somewhere else.
3. “You’re Still Young”
People often say this to a young widow/widower or a parent who’s lost a child. This implies that they have time to remarry or have other children.
They will never be able to replace the person who died. This also completely discounts the love they had for that person.
4. “You Need to Stay Strong/Positive”
It’s up to the grieving person to decide when and how to stay positive.
The only thing this statement will accomplish is making the person feel guilty or resentful. Even worse, they may feel obligated to hide their true feelings.
What to Say to Someone Who Is Grieving
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can say that will truly be helpful to a grieving person. Here are a few ideas.
1. “I’m Here as Long as You Need Me”
Rather than saying, “Call if you need anything,” assure your friend of your long-term support.
Better yet, check in with a call or text in the weeks and months after the funeral, once everyone else has returned to their normal lives.
2. “Do You Feel Like Talking About Him/Her?”
A grieving person may feel like they’re burdening you if they talk about their loved one.
Invite them to share memories if they feel like it, and share a few of your own. This can help to lighten their emotional load.
3. “You Don’t Have to Have All the Answers Right Now”
Nothing alters someone’s life like the loss of a loved one. Assure your friend that it’s okay to feel lost and confused.
They don’t have to figure everything out overnight. “Take all the time you need” can also be reassuring to hear.
4. “I Love You”
If you say nothing else, these three never fail to bring comfort.
A grieving person often feels very isolated. Your reassurance of love will help them feel a little less alone.
What to Say When Someone Dies: Final Thoughts
Death is our greatest enemy. Knowing what to say to someone who is grieving is challenging because we all grieve differently.
Of course, we want to be helpful and comforting. But it’s easy to slip into cliches and other sayings that do the opposite.
The next time you want to comfort someone who’s lost a loved one in death, refer back to this post. Then you’ll know exactly what to say (and what not to say).
Speaking of do’s and don’ts, do you know what’s appropriate to wear to a funeral? Click here for our advice.