The dilemma of what words to share with a grieving friend or loved one is more common than you may imagine. People worry a great deal about whether or not they will have the words that are appropriate to speak to a friend or family member who has recently suffered a loss. The unfortunate reality is that individuals are not living Hallmark cards. It can be quite challenging to find the “perfect” things to say to someone who is going through a terrible time. Do you believe this is why Hallmark has been so successful?
The thing that family and friends who are supportive want to do the most is to make things better. No one wants to exacerbate the suffering of a person who is already going through a difficult time or, even worse, make them angry. Unfortuitously, however, the vast majority of people who have been through a bereavement are able to recall at least one or two instances in which, after the death of a loved one, they were told something by another person that caused them to feel alienated, misunderstood, upset, or furious.
I’m sorry to have to say this, but well-meaning individuals often say the wrong thing, and people who are mourning aren’t always in the best place to be able to understand the good purpose that lies behind a word. Therefore, there is always the possibility of saying the “wrong thing.” We won’t pretend it doesn’t.
We are sorry that we are unable to provide you with the “correct” response; but, this is the case. All that we can do is suggest that you pick words that are uncomplicated, considerate, and kind, and that you utter them with compassion. If you do this for someone you care about, hopefully they will realize how much you care about them. In addition to this, there are a few phrases and comments that you should avoid making following the passing of a loved one. Having said that, keep in mind that these are merely recommendations and not strict regulations. Because you are the one who knows your loved one best, it is up to you to decide when and what kinds of things it is suitable to say to them.