What to say when someone is grieving

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“People are very uncomfortable when they try to comfort someone who is grieving. If you say the wrong thing, you can actually make matters worse,” said Aurora Winter, founder of the Grief Coach Academy and author of From Heartbreak to Happiness. Here are some tips on what to say at a funeral or wake to comfort people in their grief:


Do say:

•  You’re not alone. I’m here.

•  I can’t imagine how painful this must be for you.

•  My heart goes out to you.

•  What specifically can I do to support you?


Don’t say:

•  Don’t feel bad.

•  Be grateful you had her so long.

•  At least you have other children.

•  You’re young. You can get another husband/wife/child.

•  It just takes time.


It is a relief to a grieving person to talk about their loss. You can support someone by (1) acknowledging their feelings and the situation, (2) listening without trying fix anything, and (3) giving hope and encouragement.


If you are at a loss for words, there is nothing wrong with being authentic and simply stating, “I don’t know what to say.”

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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