What to Say (and What Not to Say) to a Grieving Person p.1

 Grief, while unpleasant, is unavoidable; everyone experiences grief in some form or another throughout their lives.

What to Say (and What Not to Say) to a Grieving Person p.1

Support from family, friends, coworkers, or acquaintances can be extremely beneficial to those who are grieving. However, many people find themselves at a loss for words, unsure of what to say (or not to say).

Everyone grieves differently

Grief manifests itself in a variety of ways, ranging from rage to extreme sadness and everything in between.

We all cope with loss in different ways because we are all unique. There is no one "correct" way to do it.

What should you say to a bereaved person?

According to Devine, the most important parts of what to say to someone who is grieving revolve around embracing the human experience in all of its forms and understanding that it is not anyone else's responsibility to take someone else's pain away.

It is not your responsibility to assist your loved one in ceasing to grieve." It is not your job as a support person to make them happy. 

Make a statement

According to Devine, a common reaction from people who see someone who has experienced loss is to avoid conversation entirely for fear of saying the "wrong" thing.

"When you cross the street, they see you. "They notice you haven't said anything," Devine says.

To avoid them feeling ignored or abandoned, try to muster the courage to speak with them.

It can be as easy as:

"Hey, I heard you and was wondering if you needed anything?"

"I heard, and I sincerely apologise." "Is there anything I can do?"

It can sometimes help to be specific, because some people in grief may not know what they require at the time.

If they (and you) are comfortable with it, offer to pick up a meal or a bag of groceries for them, or assist them with phone calls or household chores.

Be truthful

Devine believes that being honest and leaning into your lack of experience is preferable to attempting to get it exactly right all of the time — which is impossible.

The most important thing is to let your loved one know you're there, so be honest. If you're at a loss for words to express your support for someone.

try saying something like:

"I'm speechless, but I adore you and want you to know you're heard."

"I'm not sure what to say, but I'm available to listen if you need me."

Accept their emotions.

A simple check-in is fine, but you should be ready to support them in whatever response they provide.

This is referred to as validating feelings by mental health professionals.

People want to be heard as well as understood. During a time of grief, validating what they're feeling or experiencing can help them feel less alone and normalise their emotions.

It's best to be true to yourself and your relationship with that person. Don't be afraid to say their loved one's name, or feel obligated to avoid places or situations that might remind them of what they've lost — they won't forget.

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