It is very important to both the griever and the friends to read this article. When someone is hurting, most of us only want to comfort them. However, in our efforts of doing so, quite the opposite can happen. Be aware of traditional cliches and the possibility of offending your family or friend. Read on and learn my top 18 things NOT to say to someone who is grieving.
1. “I know how you feel” – even if you have had a similar loss, you really do not know. As each person is unique and individual so is the grief journey.
2. “It’s just God’s plan/will” – some griever’s feel very disconnected from their faith, mad at their God and even feel like they are being punished and saying this could make things much worse; some griever’s may have a different belief system than you.
3. “Just look at all the things you have to be thankful for” TIMING people. I am the first one to be positive and find the silver lining and TIMING is so important. This can be very hurtful and detrimental to the healing process. A griever must FEEL to HEAL. Distracting or redirecting them prompts them to NOT FEEL the sadness.
4. “He’s in a better place now” – Griever’s at the time feel the ‘best’ place for their loved one was with them. Especially if the death was premature and/or unexpected.
5. “God needed another angel” – This may build more fear into a griever’s mind as they may begin to think that other loved ones are going to die because God needs more angels.
6. “You’ve still got your other children/siblings or parent”. – Each relationship between people is special, unique and individual. Comparing relationships is not a good thing.
7. “Don’t cry — crying only upsets you” – The griever is upset already as grief is what we are feeling on the inside. Crying is a form of love and release. It will help relieve the upsets and cleanse at the same time.
8. “God will never give you more than you can handle” – PRESSURE! When a griever is feeling like they just can’t take one more thing and then THIS is said to them, they can really begin to question their faith and purpose.
9. “Get a hold of yourself” – Oh boy, does this add pressure to the griever who is already feeling out of control.
10. “It’s time to get on with your life” – This implies you, the friend, is uncomfortable seeing the griever in the state of grief and mourning. It’s a very selfish thing to say to a griever. Until you walk a mile in their shoes. . .
11. “You are so strong” “you can handle this” , or “You must be strong for the kids” – This can give the griever a false sense of carrying the weight of the world all alone on their shoulders. It can mislead the griever into judging themselves of having to have it all together and deter them from reaching out for help and asking for help.
12. “You’ll get over it in time” – Nope, a griever doesn’t ‘get over it’. A griever learns to live with the loss and integrate life, loss and love.
13. “You’ll be okay in a year” – Putting a specific linear time component will set the griever up for unrealistic expectations. The grieving/mourning process does not run on a linear time table.
14. “Time heals all wounds” – A griever may perceive this as a specific amount of time on a linear time table. Not possible to say ‘how much’ time until the wound is healed. 2 months, a year, 10 years? This could set a griever up for a never ending expectation.
15. “He/She is ALWAYS with you” – This may seem very comforting, but the fact of the matter is many grievers are going through a biological feeling of loss and it’s very difficult to fathom that when indeed they cannot speak to or hold their loved one.
16. “At least you had ‘X’ amount of time with him/her” – NEVER does an empathic response begin with ‘AT LEAST’.
17. “You’re the man of the house now” – This adds unnecessary pressure, guilt, and can affect self-esteem.
18. “You’ll find someone else” – Most grievers are NOT wanting to jump right back on the horse and ‘replace’ their loved one. That diminishes the value of the love shared and the person who died.
STAY TUNED FOR MY NEXT BLOG ON “The BEST Things To Say To Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One”
If you or someone you know is struggling with the grief and mourning process after losing a loved one and is yearning for JOY restoration, please contact me. I’ve been there. I can help. You need not travel this journey alone.
Love and JOY,