A Grief Support Blog

This blog will allow you the opportunity to acquire both support and guidance after experiencing a significant loss.

6 Things to Never Say to Someone Who is Grieving a Death

Did you know only 19 of the 141 things grievers hear following a loss are helpful? How can that be?

We live in a society where the majority of help for grievers is directed toward the intellect. The problem is grief is emotional. A broken heart can’t be fixed by using the intellect alone.

When someone is grieving a death, well-intentioned friends and family try to help by repeating comments they heard following their own losses. They rarely stop to think if those comments were helpful.

The problem is simply a lack of information.

When someone you know is grieving a death it’s natural to want to help him or her feel better.  So what statements can you take out of your vocabulary to be more helpful to your friends and family when they’re grieving a death?


1. I know how you feel.
Even if you’ve experienced a parallel loss you can never know exactly how someone else feels.  That’s because every relationship is unique. You only know how you felt when your loss occurred.

2. Look on the bright side; at least his suffering is over.
When someone died of a long-term illness, it might be intellectually true his or her suffering is over, but the griever’s suffering has just begun.

3. Don’t feel bad. Be grateful for the time you had together.
Is there anything wrong with a griever being grateful for the time he or she shared with their loved one who died? Of course not! The problem is grievers can’t help but feel sad because grief is normal and natural.  A griever can be both grateful for the time he or she shared with their loved one who died and feel bad.  They are not mutually exclusive.  This statement suggests they can’t feel both at the same time.

4. Everything happens for a reason.
Depending on the griever’s spiritual beliefs, this may or may not be true.  The problem is knowing that a death happened for a reason doesn’t make the griever feel any better. When grievers don’t feel better they wonder what’s wrong with them.

5. Just give it time.
Time does not heal. Watch the video below to learn more.


6. Be strong (for others).
Here’s an example: When a man’s wife dies, people often suggest that he be strong for their children. Without realizing it people are suggesting that he hides his grief.  Children learn by watching their parents, so the children learn that when they are sad they too should hide their feelings. This continues the cycle of misinformation in our society on how to deal with grief.





I heard all six of these after my mother died. I thought something was seriously wrong with me when all I wanted to do was smack someone in the face if I heard any of these six things one more time. Yes, my mother was no longer suffering and was in a better place. However. . .I was in a very dark place. I attended a "Grief Recovery Method" group 12 years ago after my mother died. Was I "fixed". No, but I was on the road to recovery. Volunteering to help with the group for the next seven years did me more good than any therapist. Do I still miss my mom. . .yes, I do. This was my first significant loss. A significant loss changes you in ways you can't imagine or prepare for, but there is hope and recovery if you are willing. . .

I would like to add "It's for the best" to this list. We heard this SO MANY times at my sister's funeral. She had Down's Syndrome. While we worried about her future as we aged, losing her was devastating and FAR from the "best". I understood the concept of what people were saying, but their words hurt.

Thank you for your comments and for sharing your experiences!

What video?

My brother was killed by two young men street racing, they lost control and crossed the median and hit my brother’s car at around 85mph.
I’d like to add “you’re so strong, you’re always there for everybody, taking care of everybody. Your family is lucky they have you.” Okay, while that might be, I’m that way because I put the weight of the world on me in most things I do. This comment didn’t help. Neither does the random “if you need anything just call.” I’m sorry but most people can’t really help and don’t want to change their life to do so. It becomes just something to say. It’s not necessary. A simple “I’m really sorry for your loss” is plenty good and very appreciated.

I lost my twin brother at 45. We're coming up on 3 years and I'm still not over it. I'll never be over it. Sometimes people just need to be there and not say anything. Nothing will make it better except a hugand someone to be there.

And don't just say nothing at all for fear of "saying the wrong thing"... Say their name. Share a memory. Sometimes just a hug will be enough.

To expound on the "I know how you feel" statement.... the tendency is for people to share stories of their own loss, sometimes in detail. "I know when my mother died" or "we went through this when my brother passed away". Right or wrong, when a person loses someone close to them, in their mind at that moment they are the only person on the face of the earth that has ever lost a loved one. It is not the time to tell them about your own experience, even if it seems you are imparting empathy. Those grieving simply don't have the capacity to appreciate your wisdom and may even feel that you are diminishing their sorrow. Also - avoid the "let me know if there is anything I can do". Offer simple specifics.

I just lost my youngest brother and the baby of the four of us. He passed within 24 hours of his 18th birthday. I held him as he passed. We all know that we will experience death however we expect there to be nature’s chronological order of life. With such a young tragic death I’m just devastated. I’ve heard all of these things and so much more. I understand they say it with good intention but it stings the raw wound so terribly.

Just like others have said. . . when my Mom passed away, my brother kept telling me that she was in a better place because she wasn't suffering anymore. . . all I knew what that she wasn't with me. . . and I loved her and needed her to be with me. <3

"God needed another angel" and "it was just their time" are 2 others that really are hurtful.

I completely agree with everything you have said

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