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What Do You Say When Someone Says a Loved One Passed Away?

by S. Grey, Demand Media

    You may be at a loss for words after others tell you a loved one has passed, but you do have options to help them. Different statements indicate care and support when someone you know loses an important person. By respecting their feelings and lending support, you show love and care and play a part in their healing. Choosing the right statement will demonstrate your love but also your respect for others as they grieve.

    Ask About Feelings

    When someone loses a loved one, it is important to ask how she's feeling. Assessing her feelings shows your concern for her and avoids assuming her emotions. When you tell her "I know how you feel," you invalidate her experience and risk alienating her. Instead, inquire as to her emotions and do not press her to provide an answer. Grief has to occur on her own timetable and process. By asking about her, you can play an important role in her healing.

    Acknowledge the Difficulty

    Losing a loved one is challenging, so recognizing someone's difficulty will help him feel heard and reduce his isolation. A statement such as "This must be difficult for you" acknowledges the burden of grief. When people feel they are joined by others in their struggle, their difficult emotions decrease. Isolation exacerbates sadness and impedes the healing process. Let him know that you understand how the loss of a loved one leads to trying times and that you recognize how it has affected him.

    Validate Feelings

    Emotional validation is another way to let people know they are not alone when they tell you a loved one has passed. Respect their sadness and pain, letting them know that those emotions are normal. Rather than immediately getting others to cheer up after they lose someone important, reinforce the idea that their feelings are okay and they do not have to force themselves to be strong. Validating emotions reminds people that how they feel is how they feel and that that is okay. You can say something such as, "Feel free to cry. Sadness is only natural after losing someone."

    Offer Your Support

    Once someone has told you that a loved one has passed, establish yourself as a source of support. You can offer your time if he wants to talk or your services if he needs extra help. Let him know that you are available to ease the burden of loss and grief. For instance, if he is a father, offer to babysit his children, allowing him some time to spend with family members or even enjoy a hobby. Whether he takes you up on your offer, he at least knows that he can call on you if his tough time becomes tougher.

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    About the Author

    S. Grey has a Master of Science in counseling psychology from the University of Central Arkansas. He is also pursuing a PhD and has a love for psychology, comic books and social justice. He has been published in a text on social psychology and regularly presents research at regional psychology conferences.

    Photo Credits

    • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

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