I truly do believe that people are coming from a thoughtful place when they say things to someone who is grieving, but unfortunately, they are unaware of how unkind, and sometimes even hurtful, it can come off to those who are hearing it.
Things I would not recommend you say to a griever:
“Shouldn’t you be over it by now?”
“Why are you still so sad?”
“They are in a better place.”
“I know how you feel.”
“You are so strong”
“You will feel better soon.”
“God has a plan.”
“It could be worse.”
“Call me if you need something.”
“How are you?”
When someone says things like that to me, I think to myself...
It is important that you know that we will never get over how we feel, they are not in a better place, because that place would be with me, and you don’t know how I feel…
You may have experienced this before, but please don’t compare your grief to mine.
I am not strong, or brave, I am struggling, and I am having a really hard time. Most of the time I am faking it as I go, hoping no one notices.
I appreciate your faith, I even respect it, but please do not project your beliefs on me.
I can’t imagine how much worse this can possibly be, those words are not helpful.
I am not going to call you if I need something, I have way too much going on in my head right now and it’s so much easier to just do it myself than to let someone know what I need. And if you ask me how I am, I will usually say, “I am fine,” because that is easier.
What you can do, is appreciate that this is my grief, and it will go on forever, and what I really need is for you to check on me often, and never stop. And please, remember the anniversary of their death, knowing that it will be a difficult day for me every single year moving forward.
Instead of asking me what I need, give me options, such as:
“Would you like to go for a walk today?”
“Would you like some company?”
“Can I stop by?”
“I’ve made some soup, can I drop it off?”
And please, give me a safe place to feel whatever emotion I am feeling, knowing that it’s not going to be predictable. Don’t be afraid to say their name to me or share a memory or talk about them. Trust me when I tell you that I want to talk about them, and I always will.
There is no D at the end of LOVE when someone dies, you will love them forever, which means you will grieve them forever. The best way you can help a griever, is to remember that.
Phot credit: Frances Freyberg; www.francesfreyberg.com