Things To Say to Someone in Grief

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Today I am writing about “things to say to someone in grief” because I am that someone.

I lost my mom in June, you can read about it here if you missed it. I never envisioned writing about Grief on my happy blog dedicated to sharing juicy ideas but to not write about Grief would be unauthentic because life isn’t always happy.

Losing my mom was my first great Loss, and Grief is new for me. When broken with pain life shifts. Please bear with me as I pave the way through it and navigate this new world.

Because I am my mother’s daughter, and she was the most positive person you ever would meet, I am consistently looking for the blessings and silver linings  and I hope this post might help someone at a loss of what to say to someone in grief.

When you have a friend or loved one living with Grief things can get awkward in face-to-face interactions. Especially the first time you see someone post Loss.

I have been that person, wanting to say the right thing, wanting to express myself in a way that is comforting but not really knowing what that is. But unless you have lived through this, you don’t really know. Therefore, lots of times people will not saying anything. So here are some ideas.

Things to Say to Someone in Grief 

If you have a feeling you want to say something, PLEASE DO! Worrying about what to say or if you should say something can be sensed and saying something is better than nothing.

Truly.

If it is the first time seeing the person since their Loss, acknowledge it with a simple hug and “I’m so sorry for your Loss.” You will know quickly if the person wants to talk about it or brushes it off and changes the topic, but at least you acknowledged it and then you can move on.

And instead of a blanket, “How are YOU doing?” or “How is your dad?” get more specific and ask “How are you doing today?” or “How has this week gone for you?” or “How was your dad the last time you saw him?”

A general “how are you?” is hard to answer because there are no words to even describe how I am after losing a Great Love. It’s AWFUL. Horrible. Heart-wrenching. Painful. Lonely. It SUCKS beyond measure.

But not all of the time.

The truth is that some days and some moments are OK, some moments even better than OK.

If you ask how the person is doing today or this week, it allows them the freedom to say, “I am doing actually pretty good today!” Or, “Today is a bad day.”  Whatever the case, the question is not as overwhelming as the general “How are you?”

Other comforting things to say to someone in grief or crisis:

“There are no words. I’m so sorry.” Because there are no right words or magic words.
“I’m here for you.” Always nice to hear someone cares about you and is there for you.
“You are so strong.” I had a mom at school look at me, put her hand on her heart, and say, “You are so strong. So strong.” I realized it DOES take strength to carry on “normal life,”  so I really appreciated that. 

Thanks for being there with me and for me through this. If you have anything to add that have brought you comfort, or any other pieces of advice, PLEASE comment below.

So much love,
Jen

17 Comments

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17
  1. 1
    Angela says:

    So sorry for your great loss. I can’t imagine how awful it must be for you. I wish you the best as you continue on your journey of life. Thank you for sharing advise on this difficult subject.

    • 2
      jen says:

      Thank you for your support Angela, means more to me than I can express. xoxo

  2. 3
    Melanie says:

    Thank you for sharing Jen! It’s always hard to know what to say! You ARE strong!!! Xoxo

    • 4
      jen says:

      Thank you Melanie, sending you love xoxoxo

  3. 5
    Alexandra Spitz says:

    Beautiful, Jen! It is definitely a hard thing to know what to say. Thank you for posting this and helping us all be better in times of great loss and sorrow. Sending you a big virtual hug!

    • 6
      jen says:

      Thank you so much for your comment, love and support…xoxoxo

  4. 7
    Lisa says:

    That was very good advice Jen. I wish I had been able to read it BEFORE all this happened! I really never know what to say, but you really did make it easy. And I know this is just another way that you are your mother’s daughter. You are always easy to be around. xoxoxoxo

    • 8
      Jennifer says:

      Thank you Lisa. xoxox

  5. 9
    Lynn Clark says:

    What a perfect post, Jen. I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t, at some time, wondered, “What should I say?”
    You’ve shared from this journey your heart and I know it has impacted so many people. Yes, your mom was such an amazing lady and you are so much like her. I see so much of her in you.

    • 10
      Jennifer says:

      Thank you Lynn xoxoxo

  6. 11
    Melanie says:

    I continue to be so impressed by your ability to write in your most honest and perfect tone, even through such a hardship. I hope today is a good day, and please know I am thinking of you and Suzanne and your sweet mom. I am so sorry. There are no words…

  7. 12
    Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much Melanie xoxoxoxo

  8. 13
    jolie loeb says:

    I have a special gift in always knowing exactly the wrong thing to say, and you, amongst so many of your special gifts, always know how to make that okay. You’re with me every day, Jen. Strength doesn’t even touch it. Your candor is an inspiration for all of us. I hope nothing is ever harder than this.

    See? I couldn’t have just gone with “I’m here for you.”

    Which, I always will be. I hope you know.

  9. 14
    Katie says:

    I am so sorry for your loss! Having lost my own mom suddenly two years ago, I understand your pain. It takes courage to share, but by sharing, you are helping more people than you know. Unfortunately, grief is a lifelong journey and the only way to survive it is to make your way THROUGH it. Take your time and surround yourself with the kind souls that support and love you. I hope today is a good day for you and your mother’s continued presence is felt deeply.

    • 15
      jen says:

      What a beautiful and thoughtful comment, thank you. My heart goes out to you on the loss of your mom. I understand your pain.

  10. 16
    Dave Keys says:

    We just wrapped up (I say we because so many in our family were impacted by this death and loss in so many ways) a year anniversary of the sudden death of my nephew at only 53 during a routine hunting trip. His heart hid a terrible anomaly that would take his life instantly and painlessly at the moment he was sighting his crossbow. The loss is most profound to his aging parents and his widow. It’s times like that we remember life isn’t fair or automatically orchestrated by some kind of karma feel good version of God or even in any way we can always make sense of. Many of us know there is a holographic stamp of the image of very image God on every human life but things don’t always fit the way we expect. It is in this crucible of conflicting complexity and the senselessness of things both evil and simply random that we may often most readily find out what is really important in the human experience- to find out what love is and how to truly express it to another and another and hopefully, in some way, to everyone in our lives. Although a lot of people would rather see an event like this as far behind enough to move on, that’s the deficit of love in our culture talking. We are truly a people who despite so much talk of love we find the well is often dry within. I pray you find within your grief, the precious and constant love God reaches out with to all. It doesn’t contradict grief or suffering but slowly and patiently walks through every painful step of a seemingly endless lonely journey with the suffering who most need to hear, “You are not alone and you are loved.”

    • 17
      jen says:

      What a beautiful comment. You are not alone and you are loved. Two very powerful things to say to someone in Grief. I agree wholeheartedly with what you said, that in our Grief we can find ways to express love, and share love with every person on earth, because I truly feel that is what we are here to do as humans – love each other. And there is no greater opportunity to show your love than with someone experiencing Grief. I don’t think Grief is a one year process, and then move on, either. I feel like it will be a lifelong process, of learning to live without your loved one, and learning how to honor them and their legacy of how they impacted your life with others. I am so deeply sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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