When someone experiences the loss of a loved one, it is human nature to try to comfort them and help ease their pain.
However, sometimes our good intentions can be more harmful than helpful. There are “well-meaning” comments that have actually offended and angered the bereaved.
There are several ways to communicate support to those going through this difficult experience without sounding insensitive.
Here are six things you should NOT say to a grieving person.
1.I know how you feel
Oh No, you don’t. No two losses are the same and even if you have gone through a similar pain before, you are never truly able to know how someone experiences the loss because we handle and feel things differently.
You cannot compare grief. You can only imagine or empathize with them. Empathy is the best thing you can offer someone who is hurting.
2. Stop crying
Expressing emotions is a natural reaction to losing someone that we love. So create space for them to do whatever makes them feel better.
Rather than ask them to stop crying. Offer a towel or pat their backs in love and understanding.
3. It happened for a purpose
Everything happens for a reason is what we tell ourselves as reassurance that everything that happens is for a greater good.
By telling someone that their loss happened for a reason could imply that that it’s not really that bad.
However, at that moment of pain, a grieving person is wondering what reason would justify the loss of a loved one. All they wish for is that it never happened at all.
4. You will get over it soon.
There is no set timetable for grief, and everyone’s experience with grief is different. Some people actually never get over it, they just get used to it. Even if they will eventually get over it, they do not want to hear it from you.
5. You have to be strong
Why do they need to be strong? Being “strong” is not for the benefit of the grieving person, but for those around them.
People often say this to people who have children because the assumption is that it is not good for children to see their parents sad.
Do not encourage them to deny or hide their emotions, but to embrace and process it.
6. Yours is even better, worse happened to me..
No one wins at the grief Olympics. There are no Medals! Grieving people do not want to hear a story about your own or someone else’s loss.
We should be careful in sharing our experiences of a similar pain so as not to devalue the pain of another.
Do not underestimate the power of silence; your presence alone could be all the comfort they need.
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