Figuring out what to say to a grieving person can leave you feeling uncertain and uncomfortable. Though these feelings are normal, it is also crucial to provide comfort and support to the grieving after a loss. There are several things you can say to console someone who has recently lost a loved one.
Words to Say
Knowing what to say to a grieving person can be nerve-wracking for anyone. Statements that support the grieving person, like saying, "I love you," "I care about you," or "I am thinking of you," can be beneficial, according to Everplans.com's article, "How to Express Sympathy: What to Say and What Not to Say." You can also express positive memories you have of the deceased, like mentioning how kind she was or discussing his best jokes. This can also be the opportunity to offer help, like telling the grieving person you can pick up his children from school or offering to help write the deceased's eulogy.
Words You Should Avoid
Some sympathetic words may sound kind, but can actually be hurtful or painful for a grieving person to hear. Making assumptions about the religious beliefs of the grieving or deceased, like saying someone is in a "better place," should be avoided, according to Everplans.com's article, "How to Express Sympathy: What to Say and What Not to Say." A positive spin on someone's death, like saying, "At least it was quick, so she wasn't in pain," can also be hurtful. Other comments, like telling a grief-stricken person not to worry or that they will get over it, should also be avoided.
Besides giving condolences in person, sympathy letters are another common way to express your feelings to the family of the deceased. When you do write, you should avoid asking about the details of the deceased's death, according to the Emily Post Institute article, "Sympathy Notes and Letters." Notes can be as short as a single line. You might write, "We were saddened to hear about Jill's death. She was a thoughtful and funny person, and she will be deeply missed. You are in our thoughts."
If you give a gift or send a sympathy letter, it is also acceptable to tell the grieving person - verbally or in writing - that there is no need to acknowledge it, according to the Emily Post Institute article, "Sympathy Notes and Letters." This can be comforting to family members, who may be overwhelmed with writing notes to other mourners. If you give advice during this time, you should do so gently and avoid telling the mourner what to do, according to the U.S. Department Health and Human Services LifeCare Guide, "Helping Others Cope With Grief."
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