Top 10 Things You Do Not Say To Someone In Grief
Just recently I lost my Mother. I have never been in this position before. Well I have, but I was about 14 at the time when I lost my Grandma.
At that time my loss was great, but I didn’t feel the affects that come with losing someone. Not until recently…. when my Mom died. Last week I learned a whole lot of about death, the process of properly burying someone, all you have to do, and……… what to say and what NOT to say when someone loses a loved one.
So because I am always full of charm and sarcasm, I’d thought I would share 10 things you should not say to someone who has lost a loved one.
Sometimes it can be hard to know what to say to someone. Especially if you’re using social media or don’t really know them that well. You can still extend your condolences, but let me give you some education on what not to say!
I am sure there are more than 10 things on what not to say, but I have narrowed it down to the 10 that I like.
So here we go….
Using religious statements, such as: She’s (or he) is in a better place; God knows best; God needed them more than you and so on… I know people may mean well with those statements and even I have told myself that she is no longer in pain. And I know firsthand that God knows best and his will has been carried out…. However in the moment, you don’t want to hear that.
Trying to empathize with you: I know how you feel. I lost my dog. I lost my niece on my sister’s side twice removed. I lost my brother. I lost my Dad. I lost my Grandma. Again, you may mean well, but when you lose someone like your Mom– no one, I mean no one can replace that lost. So unless you have lost your Mom or that close Parental figure.. I don’t want to hear it. Losing your Grandma is NOT the same thing as losing your Mom, unless your Grandma was your primary caregiver and support (that parental role model). Again people mean well, but seriously it’s not the same.
Asking inappropriate questions: How did she die? Did she suffer? Was she sick this whole time? Unless you’re close to the family and comfortable enough to ask, it is really none of your business. Unless the family member decided to share, stay in your place.
Making statements such as: You’re so strong. Don’t cry. She wouldn’t want you to cry. You’re so brave. You’re handling this so well. Most people that don’t like to express their emotions in public, will not break down crying in front of you.. even in a time like this. Respect their space. Most people put on a face to protect their true feelings. They will give you their happy side while crying in their pillow at home each night.
Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. What can I do to help? That is my #1 worst statement that I heard last week and continue to hear. First, don’t make that statement unless you really mean it. Don’t make it. Just offer a simply condolence and keep going. Don’t say it, don’t say it. Most people are not going to call you out on it, but someone just might. Will you be ready if they do? Me personally.. I won’t ask. Period. That’s just how I am built. My Mother raised me to be fiercely independent. And yes, I should lean on my support system during a time like this…. but I’m just not going to ask. Again, I know people probably mean well when they ask this, but don’t ask. Just do it (as Nike would say). Find a way that you can help (without being a nuisance). If you been through this type of process before then you already know how you can help. If not, google how you can help someone (or wait for me to write the post on it).
Are you okay? Hang in there, it will get better. Stay positive. It will be okay. Yes, it just may be later on down the road. But in that moment, you don’t see that. You want to be angry. You want to cry. You’re in extreme pain. You just lost someone that was SUPER close to your heart. And if it was your Mom, that is one that you just can’t replace. Well, you can’t replace any loved one but your Mom– that’s a rock that is now gone. If I don’t look okay, then don’t ask if I’m okay. I’m sure it will get better, but telling me in passing to hang in there without really being there for me does nothing for me! I don’t want to be positive. I’m not going to go off and do something stupid, but in the moment I want to grieve how I feel to grieve.
Everyone grieves differently. Don’t ever tell anyone how they should grieve and how much time it should take to “get over their grief”. Don’t EVER EVER do that. You just may lose your head.. or at least that friendship. Sometimes what may be grief can actually turn into depression. If you notice that person going into that stage, the best you can do is continue to be there for them and show your support. Pray for them. If you know them well enough to suggest therapy then pray for wisdom before approaching the subject. Depression is a horrible place to be (trust me I have been there multiple times) and it can be hard to come out of.. but I believe that even God has grace for times such as that.
s/n- There are 5 stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and acceptance.
There is a reason for everything and trying to minimize their problem. I’m sure there is… but during a time of grief people don’t want to hear that. They just lost their Mom, their Dad, their wife, husband, child. Ya feel me? SKIP the clichés!
Avoiding that person because you don’t know what to say. While not saying anything maybe the best idea for you, don’t go out of your way to avoid that person. Sometimes that person wants you to reach out and start talking about something else. Follow their lead. If they want to talk about their loved one then be there and be supportive. If they don’t, then look for that cue. But don’t avoid them because you don’t want to say or you can’t deal with being supportive. Then again.. that maybe a good thing. Okay I just totally contradicted myself on this one. I think I would want you to stay away if you were going out of your way to avoid me or bring up that topic of conversation anyway. meh…
Giving unsolicited advice! I think this is my #2 worst thing I’ve heard. Don’t try to someone what you did when you lost your Grandma or your dog. No one wants to hear- you should get remarried to feel the void. You should take up a hobby. You should…. UNLESS they ask for YOUR advice, don’t give it.
We don’t care. Well, I don’t care. Unless I ask you for your opinion I don’t want it. I am very opinionated on my own (can’t you tell by this post) that I can gather my own thoughts on how to go through this process. I can also google tips. And I know how to open my mouth and ask.
Research has shown that the more distressed the bereaved person appears to be, the more discomfort this will evoke in others, and the more they will avoid, derogate or blame the mourner. This means that those who are most in need of support may be least likely to get it. (source: PBS)
Now… I got that off my chest I want to say this: If I have EVER done any of those things to you during your time of grief, please accept my sincere apology. I was unaware that that I was saying the wrong thing(s). I know now what I will say and not say in the future to people.
If you don’t believe me, google: Top 10 Things You Do Not Say To Someone In Grief and you will find that I am right on the money with my reasons.
Thoughts? Anything that should be added as one of the top things you should not say to someone in grief? Let me know and I’ll add it!