7 Things You Can Say to Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One?
Words of Condolence Matter… A Lot
One of the most common situations where we literally find ourselves at a loss of words, is when someone close to us loses a loved one. When someone who matters to you is grieving, it can be challenging to know what to do or say. You may be scared of saying the wrong thing, making them feel worse. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that comfort and support can make a huge difference to help your loved ones feel they are not alone. While grieving is a very personal journey, in this post, we’ll discuss seven safe and comforting responses you can say to someone who is grieving.
1) Admitting You Don’t Know What To Say
Most of us don’t know what to say or are worried about saying the wrong thing. It’s okay to admit that! By being frank and honest with your friend, you are keeping the communication open, reminding them where you’re coming from as you’re trying to help. They will appreciate your honesty.
“I really don’t know what to say right now, I wish I had the right words for you.”
2) They’re Not Alone
Simply saying, “I’m here for you, you’re not alone” makes a world of a difference. It’s a great feeling to know that you have someone you can rely on whenever you need it. The sudden feeling of loneliness after losing someone makes it more difficult for grieving family members or friends to feel supported. Simply reminding them that they are not alone can mean so much.
“Sam, I want you to know that I am here for you.”
3) Grief is Normal and So Are Their Reactions
Everyone will grieve differently. Let your friend know that their reactions to the loss of their loved one are natural. Knowing it’s perfectly fine to take some time to get back to normal, can provide them with comfort that it’s okay… Tell them, “It’s normal to grieve and their reactions to the loss are natural.”
“Don’t worry about your behavior. Your reaction to the loss of your loved one is absolutely normal.”
4) Be Specific in Your Offer of Support
Ask the grieving person if there’s something they need such as home-cooked meals, help with household chores, etc. Be very specific and offer concrete help. If they are still unable to name what they need, notice some of the day-to-day tasks that may free up some time so that they can spend more time on themselves.
“What are your dinner plans tonight?”
5) Evoke Memories of Their Loved One
Some people refrain from talking about the deceased person because they do not want to hurt the grieving person. A research study by the American Psychological Association shows that everyone reacts differently to death and their coping mechanisms are also unpredictable. For many grieving individuals, it’s comforting to talk about the lost loved one. So, don’t be afraid to say something such as, “My favorite memory of your loved one is…”
“I miss [Deceased Loved One’s] smile and kind words. He was such a generous person.”
6) Their loved One is Irreplaceable
Many people make the mistake of replacing the lost loved one with someone else. Telling the grieving person to not worry, that they still have other family and friends. Instead tell them, “Your loss is irreplaceable.”
“No one can take [Deceased Loved One’s] place in your life.”
7) Other Things to Keep in Mind
Make the grieving person feel that you’re just supporting them and not trying to “fix” the situation.
Don’t tell them what to do. Let them decide how they want to cope with the loss.
Don’t claim that you can make the situation better because you CANNOT.
Be sure they know you recognize the loss.
Even if you’re not with them, tell them you’re a phone call away and thinking about them often.
We hope the information provided in this post will help you interact with someone who’s recently lost a loved one. A study conducted by Stanford University shows that recovery from grief requires a lot more than just grieving. While it is important to know what to say, it’s always best to say less and do more. Take timely action and don’t wait. There is nothing such as the ‘right time’ to pay homage. Losing someone close is one of the most painful experiences in someone’s life. Remember, powerful words matter and helping the grieving person feel supported during such difficult times is important. If there’s anything that you would like to add to this list, please feel free to share in the comments below.