People, in the their mistaken way of trying to say something comforting to someone who has had a family member or a close friend die, will say something that they think is helpful but really could be annoying or irritating. So, here is my list; please be careful of what you say to someone who has experienced a loss. They are in pain and need support.
10. “This happened for a reason.” This is not helpful when a person first experiences a loss; they are not ready to hear this — or to hear that the departed is in a better place.
9. “You need to be strong!” When you are in grief, you need to be able to feel whatever comes up for you. You might be surprised at the intensity of your emotions.
8. “Shouldn’t you be getting better already?” Grief does not follow a time line. When you love someone, it takes a long time to get used to living without him or her.
7. “I know exactly how you feel!” No, you don’t. Even if you have someone special that died, everyone’s experience is different.
6. “Do you need anything?” This is not the dumbest thing to ask, but someone in grief may not be able to respond. They don’t have a lot of energy. It would be better to just help with the simple everyday chores.
5. “Keep yourself busy. Don’t think about Herman.” When you experience the death of someone, your mind will keep coming back to the loss. It is appropriate to grieve the passing of someone in your life. As time goes by, you will gradually not think about that person all day long.
4. “I know someone who would be perfect for you!” The person in grief will go out when they are ready. It does not help to push them. This is an example for someone who lost a partner. If you have lost someone else dear to you, and you are in grief, you many need time to be socially active.
3. “You should do…” (whatever someone else thinks you might do to feel better). “Shoulds” are not helpful when the person in grief is trying to figure out what they do need.
2. “I don’t think it’s healthy to sleep so much.” “You need to get out.” The person in grief will get out when they are ready.
1. “You will feel better soon.” No one knows when the person in grief will feel better. There is such a mix of sadness, loss — perhaps anger and guilt. People feel guilty about returning to their “normal” life. It takes time to integrate all of this.
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