How we talk to someone grieving is a tricky skill. Even I can say the wrong thing. Trust me, I have. I have learned a few things over the years and thought it might be a good thing to share here.
You want to offer comfort yet you rip open a wound with a single sentence to someone grieving. They are missing their loved one and you say “they are in a better place” implies they are better off without the person who remains behind. When you sit down and think about it, it can be offensive.
Careful of phrases like:
- You’re young. You can always find another love.
- I know exactly how you feel.
- They are in a better place.
- Everything happens for a reason, life goes on.
- You’ll get through it, be strong.
Careful of being judgmental:
- It was their fault.
- It has been a while, aren’t you over this yet?
- They lived a long time, at least they didn’t die young.
- God must have wanted them there because they were such a good person.
Grief is individual. No two people go through it the same way. Some rebound quickly while others struggle for years to come to grips with the loss they experienced. The loss of someone you love is some of the worst pain that someone can endure. Even Spiritually aware people still grieve deeply.
Just because someone looks like they are handling their grief well doesn’t always mean that is the case. Actions always speak louder than words. Sometimes just sitting and listening to the person is the best medicine in the world. A random call about a wonderful memory of the lost one and a how are you doing go a long way. Don’t tiptoe around them for fear of saying the wrong thing. Sometimes it is those little reminders that the person was loved and is remembered that help.
Our job as humans is to comfort one another. Even a simple card, letting them know that you are thinking of them can make the difference in a person who is grieving. An offer to meet for coffee, dinner or a movie are welcome distractions.