What To Say and Not To Say To Someone Who’s Grieving

Do be present

You don’t necessarily need to have the right words, but showing up with a willingness to talk about the person who died is crucial. Abdullah says that instead of trying to make someone feel better, really being there and allowing them to feel pain is more effective. “Letting them know that whatever they’re feeling is okay and it makes sense, because as people metabolize grief, they go through many different experiences. [That’s] any reaction, or any expression of any emotion—or a lack of expression or emotion, because some people may not express grief outwardly or in the conventional way we think of grief as sadness. So holding space and reminding them that what they’re feeling is okay.”

The Road to Recovery – A Grief Support Guide in e-book form

Do use the name of the person who died

“I think people get the sense that we don’t want to talk about the person that died but actually, when you’re grieving, you want to know that the person is not forgotten,” Abdullah says. Sharing stories and memories of the person who died, or things you loved about them or things that reminded you of them can be helpful. While Warnick acknowledges there are, of course, exceptions and nothing she says will be true for 100 percent of people across the board, she does find that the vast majority of people do not want the person who died to be forgotten and welcome the opportunity to be able to talk about them—though they might not want to have to take the lead.

“When my dad died, one of my colleagues said to me, ‘Andrea, I never met your dad,..