Grief Etiquette 102

by Jill Francis on September 21st, 2018

Some of us have no idea what to say when someone we know loses someone they love.  Some of us think we know, but in reality, what we say does more harm than good.  Others believe that by imparting their “wisdom”, they will be comforting the hurting, when in fact, they do more damage. 

If you don’t know what to say, see Grief Etiquette 101( .  If you don’t have time to read it and still aren’t sure, here’s a list of what NOT to say:

  • I know how you feel.  Even if you THINK you do…you don’t; you don’t have the same life circumstances as the one grieving, all of which impacts how one feels.  So don’t ever say you know how they feel.  Ever.
  • You will get through this.  Even if it’s true, no one wants to hear it
  • This was meant to be.  Unless you’re God, you have no idea what was “meant to be".
  • Thank Goodness he/she didn’t suffer (or is no longer suffering). Even if this is true, no one wants to hear it.  Trust me…I learned the hard way.
  • My story is similar.  Even if it is…this isn’t about you.
  • All things work together for Good.  This is a popular one in the Christian community and needs to stop. 
  • This was part of God’s plan.  Again, popular in the Christian community and needs to stop.  If you don’t know why, e-mail me and I’ll tell you.
  • God’s timing is perfect.  Do you see a pattern?  Unless you’re God…shut up.
  • This will make you stronger.  No one wants to be strong due to loss.
  • You’ll move on.  I don’t want to.  I want to stay right here with my loved one beside me participating in life.  I don’t want to move on.  Shut up.
  • He/She’s in a Better Place.  I don’t want them in a Better Place…I want them here.

Silence, listening, and a big hug are better than saying something trite, insensitive and stupid.  (Ice cream can be good too, or warm banana bread).  Loss is as individual as snowflakes; no two of us are alike as we grieve.  What worked for you may not work for someone else, even if they’re in a similar situation. 

Listen and listen some more.  Let the hurting one talk, cry or tell stories.  And if they invite your story or ask for advice, then share, but only when invited.   Give them Time, avoid the List and listen.  And one day, when they’re feeling better, you may be invited back for ice cream.  :)

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