7 Things You Can Say to Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One?

Words of Condolence Matter… A Lot

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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 a lot 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)  They’re Not Alone

Simply saying, “I’m here when you need me,” makes a world of a difference. The sudden feeling of loneliness after losing someone makes it more difficult for grieving family members or friends to feel supported. It’s a great feeling to know that you have someone you can rely on whenever you need it. Simply reminding them that they are not alone can mean a lot to them.

Example:

“Hey Samuel, I just want you to know that I am here for you when you need me.”

2) No One Can Feel What They’re Going Through

One of the most annoying things that people say when someone is grieving is, “I can feel what you’re going through right now.” Well, you absolutely CANNOT. A study by the University of Michigan Law School shows that there’s nothing such as “feeling someone’s pain.” The intensity and extent of everyone’s grief is different. Even if you’ve gone through the same kind of situation and you may understand what they’re going through, you cannot feel exactly how they are feeling. Simply saying, “I cannot imagine how painful this is for you,” can be more effective.

Example:

“I cannot even imagine how you’re feeling right now.”

3) Grief is Normal and so Are Their Reactions

Everyone will grieve differently. By helping the person feel that their reaction to the loss of their loved one is natural, you can calm them down. Let them know that it’s perfectly fine to take some time to get back to normal. Tell them, “It’s normal to grieve and their reactions to the loss are natural.”

Example:

“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.

Example:

“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…”

Example:

“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.”

Example:

“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.

Final Thoughts

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.