Best and worst things to say to someone in grief

Today would have been my brother’s 24th birthday. It is a rough time of the year for my family because we are facing both the anniversary of my brother’s death and his birthday back-to-back, separated by about two weeks. This is a time I’m reminded of the things people would say, or wouldn’t say, to try and comfort us. Some were helpful and some were not. Here are my suggestions of the best and worst things to say to someone in grief.

Worst

  • Everything happens for a reason.
    There is no reason for this tragedy.
  • He’s in a better place.
    The best place for him is here with us!
  • He’s not in pain anymore.
    Why did he have to suffer in the first place?!

Best

  • I am so sorry for your loss.
  • I wish I had the right words, just know I care.
  • My favorite memory of Evan is…

Other tips to help friends in grief

  • When you don’t know what to say to someone grieving, silence is absolutely OK. Hugs are even better.
  • Don’t ever put an expiration date on grief or rush someone in the process. People heal in their own time, their own way.
  • The most hurtful for anyone in grief, especially a survivor of suicide, is when people are afraid to say your loved one’s name for fear of an awkward moment, shame or making us cry. Elizabeth Edwards said this best when talking about the loss of her child: “If you know someone who has lost a child or lost anybody who’s important to them, and you’re afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died, they didn’t forget they died. You’re not reminding them. What you’re reminding them of is that you remember that they lived, and that’s a great, great gift.'”

What has someone said that helped you during the grieving process?

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5 Comments

  1. My favorite memory of Evan is…every one you’ve ever shared with me! Even though Evan never knew me, his memory is part of my vocabulary now. You are an amazing big sister.

      • Erin
      • March 11, 2013
      • Reply

      So glad you have gotten to know Evan 🙂 Smooches.

    • Angela Maki
    • March 11, 2013
    • Reply

    Wish I could like Rachael’s post cuz I agree! Virtual hugs Erin.

      • Erin
      • March 11, 2013
      • Reply

      Thanks Ang!

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