Sunday, December 14, 2008

What to Say to the Grieving

When someone you care about is grieving, it can be a challenge to find the right words to say in a note, or when you see them. I have posted some ideas about what not to say, here are some things to consider saying. Please remember though, that it's about them, not you. Truly listening and responding with empathy is more important than any sympathetic statement or gesture you can think up beforehand.

  • 'You are in my thoughts'... Let them know that you appreciate the significance of their loss, and that you are concerned about them. If you have included them in your prayers, let them know that too.

  • 'I remember'... Share a special memory of the deceased. There is no greater gift than learning something new and wonderful about a person we've lost. Reminding a grieving person of an old favorite story can be wonderful gift as well.

  • 'I will miss'... Even though your focus should be on the grieving person, and not on yourself, let them know that you too will miss this special person, and that you share in their loss.

  • 'I would like to'....It's certainly nice to say "We're here for you, let us know if we can help with anything", but take it one step further by offering help with something specific. 'We'd like to bring over meals for you on Wednesdays' or 'we'd like to take care of your snow shovelling this year' or 'I can take you to the grocery store'. You don't have to insist, but being specific about what you could help with makes it easier for them to take you up on your offer.

  • 'We love you'...This is what is most important, and it encompasses all the previous ideas. When we lose someone, we need to know that we are loved and cared for. If you can communicate this by your presence, thoughfulness, words or actions, you have made a difference.


Charles Cowling said...

Beautifully written and, as ever, carefully thought, Patrick. These are easily spoken forms of words you recommend, enabling people to overcome their embarrassment or reluctance to engage with a grieving friend or neighbour.

Going to the funeral is, of course, a very important way of being there, not only for the dead, but also for the living. The importance of going to the funeral (if all are invited) cannot be overrated.

Hey, you've really got me thinking on a Sunday evening!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this posting. I have been overwhelmed and totally underwhelmed by the actions and words of others in the past weeks since my husbands' death. Your well-thought out words of comfort and support are marvelous and hopefully will be taken to heart. Dealing with grief and loss is hard enough without dealing with insensitivity. Once again, thank you.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Contact Me

My photo
Funeral service faces a crisis of relevance, and I am passionate about keeping the best traditions of service alive while adapting to the changing needs of families. Feel free to contact me with questions, or to share your thoughts on funeral service, ritual, and memorialization.


Blog Archive