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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 05-Jul-15

 


Sunday 05-July-15

What do you say to a grieving person?

When you meet someone who has suffered a bereavement, where a relation or someone they know has died, what do you say? It can be a tricky situation as even if they seem fine on the surface, they may be quite fragile inside.

A simple way is just to say 'I'm so sorry' and 'There are no words'. Because you are and there aren't.

Do not disagree with them. Their beliefs may radically change, from atheist to religious and also back the other way as a non-believer blames God or a religious person feels they have been abandoned by their deity.

Don't say things like:

  • How are you doing
  • It's God's plan/she's now an angel/watching over you/other religious stuff
  • Everything happens for a reason
  • Maybe it's for the best/they're not suffering any more

In other words, don't try to explain it. And remember that your goal is to make them feel better, not to relieve your discomfort. When people say 'Don't cry' they usually mean 'Your crying is making me feel uncomfortable'.

To show that you care, look to help them in practical ways. Just sympathetic listening, without interruption or looking uncomfortable, can be a huge help. Sometimes it helps to do practical things for them, but beware of taking away those things that they could do to retain some sense of normality.


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