When there are no words to say, but know that I am always here for you.
~ Danielle Duckery
In my last post I shared with you some things to avoid saying to a grieving loved one or friend. Below are suggestions of things you can say that will help make the conversation less uncomfortable and will convey a message of concern that offers real comfort:
- “I’m so sorry for your loss.” It’s short, sweet, heartfelt, and always welcomed.
- “Please know that I’m here for you.” It never hurts to remind someone in pain of your friendship, no matter how close you are.
- “You’re in my thoughts and prayers.” Even people who aren’t religious are unlikely to be offended if they know you’re sincere.
- “Remember you can call me at any hour.” Alternately, be specific: “You know I’m always up till midnight.” Or, “It’s never too early in the morning to call.”
- “I don’t know how you feel, but I am here to help in anyway I can”. Just the acknowledgement of this will help to ease tension and will allow your friend or loved one to feel comfortable to share what they are feeling.
- “I don’t know what to say.” Admitting you’re tongue-tied about offering condolences is very normal and natural. And, don’t be afraid to say the name of the person who has died or has left the relationship.
- “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.” Candor when you give condolences beats comparing their loss with stories of losses that you have experienced.
- “Would you like to talk about it? I’m listening.” Saying this will provide a gentle opening for the person to share overwhelming emotions, if desired.
- “How are you feeling–really?” This offers a more direct invitation to unload someone’s most pressing feelings and may be welcomed by some; If there is very little reaction or not much of a response after asking this question, it would be best to not press the issue at the moment. Another opportunity may present itself at a later time.
- “I’ve brought you a meal to eat or freeze; it’s in disposable containers so you don’t have to return anything.” This is better than asking, “How can I help?” Some of the best support you can give to someone is to just show up – be willing to sit down and listen – do a kindness (run errands, take the kids out, answer the phone, clean the dishes, etc.)
This list reflects a glimpse of the many helpful things to say and do for a grieving person. It is a starting point. There is truth in “less is more” and sometimes the simplest, most honest response is the what helps the most.
Even a squeeze of the hand, a touch on the arm or a warm hug saying, “My heart hurts for you” or “Please know I care and I’m here to help in anyway I can” is real and enough.
Grief has no rule book and what works with one person may not work with another. Words are powerful and leave a lasting impression. Once spoken, they cannot be taken back.
The more we realize we are alike more than we are different, the more we can take the fear away and really be there for those we care about.
I hope this list offers you a new way to look at someone who is grieving. Little things mean a lot. Your presence, your heart, your sincerity will always come through just by the honest acknowledgement of saying, “I’m here, let me help you” .
There is lots more to share with you in the weeks ahead. I welcome any thoughts or suggestions on topics you may find helpful for future posts.