The pain of losing a loved one can feel very overwhelming—and coping with the grief of that loss may be one of the most difficult challenges many of us face. When a family member or close friend has experienced the loss of a loved one, a basic need for them is to simply be heard.
You may be thinking, “What do I even say to someone who is coping with grief?” Well, there’s a lot of things you can, should and shouldn’t say.
Below we outline the value of being a good listener to someone who is coping with grief and offer 30 supportive phrases you can use during times of loss.
Importance of Listening
When someone you know is coping with grief, it can be difficult knowing when and how to help. What do you do? What do you say? Should you say anything at all?
By being a good listener, you will be able to comfort and reassure your loved one that is coping with grief. Listening lets them know that if they need support, they have it.
The following tips will ensure you’re being a good active listener when communicating with a grieving friend or family member:
- Keep eye contact.
- Don’t interrupt.
- Avoid giving advice.
- Show you care.
- Stay engaged.
- Be present.
- Don’t go in with an agenda.
Supportive Phrases to Use
As you allow your grieving loved one to be heard, an opportunity may arise where you can show your support. When the time comes, your goal should be to express compassion, not to cheer up someone who is recently bereaved.
Keep the following list of phrases in your back pocket in case you are having a hard time finding something to say to someone who lost a loved one.
1. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
2. “There are no words.”
3. “I’m just really sorry you’ve had to go through this.”
4. “You aren’t going crazy.”
5. “Your reactions are normal/appropriate.”
6. “Your loved one was a wonderful person.”
7. “Grief has no expiration date.”
8. “You don’t have to talk. I will just sit beside you.”
9. “It’s okay to have bad days because it reminds you how much you love them, and the good days remind you they’re right there with you.”
10. “We remember them and speak of them often.”
11. “They are never far away.”
12. “He/she was such a special person.”
13. “He/she would be proud of you.”
14. “You’re allowed to feel and be exactly as you are because this is your experience and no one else’s.”
15. “You are not moving on, you are moving forward.”
16. “There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Your life has been changed forever.”
17. “You can talk to me about your loved one whenever you want—in 5, 10, 30 years.”
18. “Tell me more about your loved one.”
19. “Talk about your loved one whenever you feel like it.”
20. “Let me know if I can help.”
21. “I was really mad at God when I found out.”
22. “I don’t know what to say but I can listen.”
23. “I am praying for you and always will be.”
24. “I love you.”
25. “Be as kind to yourself as you are to everyone else.”
26. “Come rest a minute. Let’s talk about and remember all those sweet memories.”
27. “I cannot possibly understand how you feel. But I’m here”.
28. “We’ll get through this together.”
29. “Learn to live in acceptance of the loss, not in spite of the loss.”
30. “We won’t forget them.”
BONUS: 10 of the Worst Things to Say to Someone Coping with Grief
While there are several supportive phrases to say to a grieving loved one, there are also quite a few you shouldn’t say. Below are the top ten phrases you should avoid using when comforting a bereaved family member or friend.
1. “At least he/she lived a long life—many people die young.”
2. “He/she is in a better place.”
3. “You’ll be okay after a while.”
4. “There is a reason for everything.”
5. “Aren’t you over him/her yet? He/she has been gone for a while now.”
6. “You can still have another child.”
7. “She/he was such a good person that God wanted her to be with Him.”
8. “I know how you feel.”
9. “She/he did what she/he came here to do and it was her/his time to go.”
10. “Be strong.”
Additional Memorialization and Grief Support Resources
We understand it can be overwhelming and challenging to plan a memorial for a lost loved one while coping with grief. Our monthly newsletter will provide you all the resources you’ll need during those more difficult times. Subscribe today!