9 Worst Things to Say to Someone Acutely Grieving

Introduction

Grief has been known to be one of the most personal and complex emotions humans experience after the loss of a loved one. When someone is grieving, it becomes challenging to get the right words to console them. In times of loss, people may say well-intentioned words and statements that unintentionally cause more pain to the grieving person. The main intent of this blog article is to explore what not to say to a grieving individual in the hope of assisting you in offering better support during their challenging journey.

1. “I know how you Feel.”

One of the most said statements to grieving individuals is, “I know how you feel.” Unfortunately, this statement does more wrong than good. Even if you have in the past experienced grief yourself, it is crucial to know that everyone’s grief is different. In a few words, you will never know how a grieving person is feeling.

    When people say they know exactly how a grieving person is feeling, it tends to diminish their feelings and make them feel unheard. Instead of using that phrase, you can express empathy by saying, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but I’m here for you.”

    2. “It’s Time to Move on.”

    One of the common statements I like is that “There is no moving on when it comes to the loss of a loved one.” When consoling a grieving person, always know that grief has no set timeline and it is not something that can be rushed.

    Telling a grieving person to move on will make them feel guilty for grieving, and when they feel so, they are likely to be isolated. They deserve to grieve their loved ones without being judged. Instead of using such words, offer support and let them decide when they are ready to take the next steps.

    3. “At Least they’re in a Better Place.”

    While you may think that this statement is comforting, it is extremely dismissive of the person’s pain. Navigating death can be scary and stressful, and such statements invalidate someone’s death.

    In addition, the statement is not universally soothing. People hold different beliefs about the afterlife. In this case, saying the above phrase is imposing personal belief on the grieving person. Instead, acknowledge the grieving person’s pain and express your willingness to listen.

    4. “Everything happens for a reason.”

    Even though this statement can be true for some, it does not help someone who is grieving. On the contrary, it comes out as being insensitive. Instead of using such a statement, you can hang around the person and help when requested.

    5. “They wouldn’t want you to be sad.”

    Even though this sentiment may be well-intended, it mostly makes the grieving person feel guilty for their natural emotions. According to a study by Shear, grieving a loved one is a necessary part of healing. Instead of using the above phrase, reassure them that their feelings are valid and you will stick around in case they require any help. 

    6. “You should be grateful for the time you had.”

    Using the above statement is being dismissive of the grieving person’s feelings. Instead of using the above words, acknowledge their pain and never rush them through the grieving process. You can also offer a shoulder to lean on and a listening ear.

    8. “You’ll get over it.”

    As mentioned earlier, the death of a loved one is not something people get over. On the contrary, it is something that people learn to incorporate into their day-to-day life. Telling a grieving person that they will get over it makes them feel unsupported and misunderstood.

    Grief is not something you “get over” but learn to live with over time. Instead of the above phrase, let them know that you are willing to support them through the grieving journey.

    9. “You should be strong for others.”

    Expecting a grieving person to be strong for others can be emotionally draining as well as overwhelming. On the contrary, please encourage them to prioritize self-care and let themselves experience their emotions. In addition, offer to help with any practical matters that may arise.

    Conclusion

    In summary, supporting a grieving person can be challenging. In most cases, people do not know what to say since even well-intentioned statements can be potentially hurtful. When supporting a grieving person, it is crucial to acknowledge that grief is a highly individualized journey. The best support you can offer to a grieving individual is a shoulder to lean on, your presence, empathy, and a listening ear. Also, be patient and understanding, and let them know you’re there to support them throughout the grieving journey.

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