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What Do I Say Now?

Solace HouseWhat Do I Say Now? Tips on How to Respond When Someone You Love is Grieving

by Beth Houghton, LCSW, Grief Support Specialist at Kansas City Hospice

It can be hard to support a grieving person when you are at a loss for words or feel there is nothing that can be said or done that could possibly bring comfort. Or perhaps you are grieving someone you loved dearly and are on the receiving end of insensitive comments, or worse yet, no acknowledgment of your loss at all.

In her article, When Someone You Love Is Grieving: How to Really Help, Angie Schultz writes: “Grief has a way of unsettling everyone in the proximity. It stirs up our own unhealed parts. Is it any wonder that we have the instinct to smooth over the other person’s emotions, to take everything back to normal, before it has the chance to stir up something inside us?”

But as we know, there is no “back to normal” when someone we love dies. Normal no longer exists and those people who have suffered a loss need their friends and family more than ever.

Below are some tips of helpful and not so helpful things to say to a griever, composed with the assistance of What’s Your Grief website and personal experiences shared by grievers:

Helpful

  • There are no words
  • I’m so sorry you are going through this
  • Tell me more about him/her
  • You don’t have to talk, I will just sit beside you
  • He/she will not be forgotten

Not so helpful

  • Everything happens for a reason
  • Time heals all wounds
  • You should be over this by now
  • They’re in a better place
  • It was their time

More than anything, being present for a grieving friend or family member can make a world of difference in how they work through their loss. We all make mistakes and say the wrong thing at times. Acknowledging when this happens will likely ease those uncomfortable situations.

Although bearing witness to the pain experienced by someone who has suffered a loss can feel incredibly difficult, it is also a great privilege.

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, please join Susan Wurtenberger and me for our workshop, “What Do I Say Now? Supporting Someone in Grief,” Tuesday, March, 2020, 6-7 pm, North Kansas City Hospital, Burlington Room in the Pavilion.

About Us

 
The mission of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care is to bring expert care, peace of mind, comfort, guidance, and hope to people who are affected by life-limiting illness or by grief. Our vision is that each person in our community is valued from life through death and each family is supported in their grief.

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Our center for grief and healing supports individuals and families who have been impacted by the death of a loved one, whether anticipated, or sudden and unexpected. We provide opportunities to share, listen, learn and heal with peer group support from age 3 through adult.

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