A friend & I were talking recently about some of the dumb things people say to someone who is grieving.
- “He’s in a better place.” (And knowing this negates my pain how exactly??)
- “You should be glad she’s not suffering anymore.” (I am glad, but I still miss her!)
- “I know just how you feel.” (No, you don’t. You aren’t me. We feel things differently)
- (in cases of pet loss) “It was just a cat/dog/bird/etc.” (To you, but to me, that was my baby!)
- Or, simply acting like since their loved one has been buried or cremated, they should be ready to on with their lives since it’s “done”. The funeral marks the beginning of learning to leave without your loved one. Personally, I feel “in limbo” until the funeral or cremation is done. Once that happens, my grief really begins.
Comments like these may not sound so bad, but they can be hurtful when you’re in the early stages of grief.
The simple fact is people don’t know what to say in this situation. Nothing sounds “right”, so many people say something unintentionally hurtful rather than saying nothing.
If you know someone who has recently lost someone they love, please think before you speak. What may comfort you may not comfort the other person. Everyone grieves differently. Plus, there are various stages of grief, & what may comfort someone at one stage may not at another stage. For example, knowing I’ll see my loved one again one day does NOT comfort me immediately after losing that person or pet. I call it the selfish phase of grief, where I just want them back with me because I miss them so much. Some time later, knowing we’ll be reunited one day is a great comfort.
It seems to me there are only a few safe things to say to someone who is grieving.
- “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
- “Is there anything I can do for you?”
- “If you want to talk, I’m here for you anytime.”
Please consider your words wisely when someone you know has lost a loved one. You have the ability to help them or hurt them, so please, choose to help them.