Words of Comfort for the Grieving

When someone is grieving, it can be difficult to know what to say. But experts have advice to keep you from either rambling on or saying nothing, both of which could leave you feeling both awkward and guilty.

The New York Time’s Crowdwise column has excellent advice on what to say to those who have suffered a loss. Rule No. 1 on their list is to remember, “it’s not about you.” Rule 2, “There is no bright side.” Rule 3, “Be careful with religion.” Cringe-worthy examples of what not to say are also included.

This salty Forge blog suggests it is important to give specific offers of help like, “Do you need me to pick up your kids Tuesday night.” Don’t give the old, tired, “If there’s ANYTHING I can do, just let me know.”

And Everplans offers this advice:
● Don’t press too hard for details.
● Don’t ask questions that sound like you’re looking for a way to make this OK.
● Be empathetic without one-upmanship.
● This is not radio; you do not have to fill the dead air.
● Stick around. Remember. For a long time.

ModernLoss is another website with an up-to-date take on grief. Check out their 7 Tips for Speaking with a Bereaved Mother for some insights. Steer clear of “I can’t imagine what you are going through,” the article urges.

New York Times columnist Jane Brody shared her experience with helpful — and not helpful — words in her 2010 column: From Kind Words, Lessons on Condolences (not helpful: suggestions to get a dog or meet a new partner).

Psychology Today shared some tips used by Oregon’s Dougy Center in their article: What Grieving Friends Wish You’d Say:

“Don’t say things such as, “You can always have another one,” when referring to children who’ve died. Also, never say “They lived a full life,” because it’s likely that you have no idea.”

“If you don’t know what to say, it’s okay to say that,” says Emily McDowell, co-author and illustrator of There’s No Good Card for This.

The holidays can be particularly hard for those who are grieving, and Huffington Post offers these six tips to help. And the Refuge in Grief website has tons of great advice also around the holidays, including a new comic.

Finally, as the Marie Curie website explains, sometimes it is less about what to say, but how to listen that counts.

Photo by Kazuend

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