What to Say (and Not to Say) to a Grieving Person

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There are a lot of people who are feeling sadness over the loss of loved ones during the holiday season. Recently, I read a blog from Gloria Horsley in the Huffington Post, with tips on what to say and not to say to someone who is grieving.

grieving girl

Here is what not to say:

You will never get over it. - This comment really drove me crazy as it always felt so condescending and minimizing and how do you respond? I didn’t want to “get over my son and his cousin’s death,” yet I wanted to move on to become strong and hopeful once again. I did want to get over the hurt. I now realize that I have “never gotten over it” but with time and work have transcended the pain and suffering and have again found joy.

They are the first things you will think of every morning. - This was a comment was made by my husband’s secretary at Scott’s funeral. It’s true Scott being killed in an automobile accident was the first thing I thought of every morning for a while, and then as time went on I noticed that I started giving equal thought to my three living daughters and now my ten grandchildren.

It wasn’t meant to be. - This is very fatalistic. How does anyone know what was meant to be. Someday when we join our loved ones we will know all the answers or not.

You’re young. You can marry again. - I know that this comment drives widowers crazy. That special person will always be a part of your life.

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Here are some helpful thing to say or do for a grieving person:

Show up. - I used to send a card. Now, I send myself. My friend Sally showed up at our house before our first dinner alone, brought a book, and just read while we ate. It was very comforting.

Do a kindness. - Friends mowed my lawn, took out the garbage, walked the dog and took the kids to movies.

Answer the telephone and take notes. - We had dozens of casseroles, walls of flowers, and random gifts. Without careful notes taken by friends, we would have had no idea what to do with the empty dishes or who to thank.

Create a memorial website. - When I was working on the Columbia University 9/11 project helping the fire fighters’ families whose loved ones died in the Twin Trade Towers, we created a memorial website where our staff could tell his family the great things their son and brother had done to help those in need.

For more information about what to and not to say click here

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