What Not to Say to Someone Grieving


It’s important to know what not to say to someone grieving, as it is what to say to comfort them, right? In your heart, you have the best intentions but your words can easily fall short and hurt someone if you aren’t careful. That said, here’s a list of 16 must-have tips to help you.

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When we lost Tyler, my first grandchild to SIDS, saying I was heartbroken is stating it mildly. It’s hard to understand God’s will when a four-and-a-half-month-old baby passes away as quickly as he was given to us.


It simply wasn’t enough time. I shattered and was mad at God for far too long. People tried to comfort us but the words were hurtful at times. Here are a couple of verses to keep in mind, ok?


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There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18


Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. Proverbs 18:21


If you have been following our Hope for Grief: A Grief and Loss Collaboration you know our family has had our share of deaths in a short amount of time. I’m clinging to the hope of Heaven to see them again one day very soon.


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What Not to Say to Someone Grieving, do not say these tips


Before we touch on what not to say to someone grieving let’s first look at a couple of pieces of advice first, ok? In all honesty, or at least in my personal opinion, sometimes it’s best to just listen to our grieving friends instead of saying words that may hurt them. Your presence alone is more comfortable than anything you may know or realize.


How are you really doing?


When it comes to what NOT to say to someone grieving this question is far too much to hear and handle for a while. Honestly, how do you think they’re doing really?


In grief, especially at first, your emotions are all over the place. You feel fearful of what lies ahead. You’re feeling deep excruciating pain, right?


Everyone tells me I am Mama’s clone. So, this alone reminds me of her loss every time I look in the mirror. I see the parent I no longer have.


Also, when I lost so many family members in a three-week period I severely struggled with sleep. I had bad dreams all the time. Since I had traveled to KY for all the funerals I was financially worried as I felt deep grief.


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At least they’re no longer suffering


My Mama was in long-term hospice for several months. Watching her suffer was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. Watching her body slowly widdle away was heart-wrenching.


Now, first and foremost, I know…at least she’s no longer suffering and she’s in a better place (Heaven) but her loss has left a deep hole in my heart, and I’m more than certain I’m not the only one who feels this way. Please remember this before you make this statement.


At least they lived a long Good life


Whether you realize this or not when your loved one passed away, {especially when it’s unexpected} this is too hard and painful to hear at this moment.


Remember, your friend is hurting and are they’re facing the challenges of the death of their loved one. Just show them compassion and understanding.


They’re in a better place now


Please give your loved one a chance to mourn and grieve. Do not say they are in a better place. Even though this statement may be true it’s slowing the grieving process. Just cling to the fact you’ll have all eternity to be with them.


Don’t tell someone else how they should be grieving


Every individual grieves differently. Some like to talk about their loss whereas others don’t want to talk about it at all. Men grieve differently than women.


Children grieve differently than their parents. If your child is having trouble with grief we have a post on books to help children about grief available to help you work through this process.


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Heaven gained another angel


First and foremost, if you can point out scripture in God’s word about this then feel free to do so. In my faith, this is NOT a true statement and it’s not accurate. if you’re in Christ, your spirit goes to Heaven but this does not make people angels.


For the longest time, I’ve been guilty of saying this myself, but it’s not biblical. Once you take your last breath on earth, {if you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior} your spirit will be Heaven. In my faith, once you die on earth that’s it until judgment day.


For this, we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 1 Thessalonians 4:15


For the Lord, himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 1 Thessalonians 4:16


Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:17


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Your loss can be a powerful testimony


I realize someone means this statement as a compliment. That being said, however, it put tons of pressure on the individual who experienced the loss of their loved one. Give them time to process their grief because they are in a vulnerable place


I know how you feel


At times, this statement makes me cringe. God alone knows your heart. Do not say this. Everyone’s grieving process is different. Two people may have a similar loss, but none are the same.


Please read what to say to someone who’s grieving to gain a better understanding of saying I know how you feel and why it may not be helpful. It can often come across as hurtful. Keep this in mind, ok?


Lisa Apello also has a great post on what to say to someone grieving also.


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Well, Everything happens for a reason


Though this is true it doesn’t diminish the pain of losing someone you love so much. For instance, losing our precious Tyler at four and a half months old for the longest time I kept asking God…Why?


This being said, I don’t understand the reason for losing him so young. Everything does indeed happen for a reason though and you have to accept you may not know your answer on this side of Heaven.


I can’t imagine your loss


I admit this one hurt for the longest time, especially when the topic of losing Tyler was concerned. I’ve come to learn that when someone says this they’re simply displaying empathy and compassion.


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Can I ask what happened?


This is a tough one to answer because it’s extremely personal. If the individual offers to talk about it then be attentive, listen, and show you sincerely care about their well-being.


That being said, don’t be pushy. Rather allow them to share what they’re comfortable with sharing with you. This will be most beneficial, trust me on this.


I’ve been guilty of asking this question. Working in oncology I witness every single day the suffering cancer patients endure. I have stuck my foot in my mouth more times than I count. Trust me, the look on their faces was enough for me to know to STOP asking this.


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Call me if you need anything


Trust me when I say they probably won’t call you because they don’t want to feel like they are being a burden. Most people don’t like asking for help due to pride.


Take me for instance, I have massive hearing loss and totally hate the telephone. A better way of offering help is to cook meals or offer gift cards.


What I’m trying to say is to look for needs that they may need help with to lighten their load, especially when they have small children to care for. The last thing on someone’s mind is cooking dinner when a loved one passes away.


All things work together for good


God’s word does say all things work together for good. That said, however, when someone is in the beginning stages of the grieving process do not say this.


Why?


This comment can be hurtful and is the last thing they’ll want to hear so soon after their loved one just passes away. Just offer to be there for them.


And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28


God won’t give you more than you can handle


Sweet friend, God allows certain things in our lives to grow us spiritually. During the grieving process and sadness, God wants you to fully rely on Him so that you can depend on His grace alone to see you through this time.


Move on with your life


Do not say this to someone. Grief isn’t a one size fits all kind of thing, ok? Grief takes time and if you tell someone to move on you may be causing more harm than good.


In short, I don’t think it’s possible to just “move on with your life” because we never just “get over” the people we love. In time the pain may lessen somewhat but you just learn to cope only through God’s love where you’ll find peace and joy after loss.


Stop Crying so much


It’s impossible to know how another will react to loss and to tell them to stop crying is downright cruel. Again, the grieving process is different for each person. What I love is God sees every tear and he longs to heal your broken heart.


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Your Turn


Did you learn what not to say to someone grieving? What You Should Say Instead: I’m so sorry you’re hurting. Offer a hug and lend a friendly ear to listen if they want to talk. You can also say I’m so sorry for your loss. How can I be praying for you? Is there anything specific I can be in prayer for to help you get through this?


Note: All information on this site is for educational purposes only. Resounding His Love does not provide medical advice. Please consult a physician if you suspect medical problems or need professional advice.


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