When a friend is in need, we try to help them as much as we can. If a friend is suffering from grief, what we want the most is to make them feel that they are not alone. Although intentions are often well-meaning, there are times these good intentions are not perceived the way we want them to be.
Don’t compare the loss this person is feeling to a loss you have felt; they are not the same.
Because the nature of grief is deeply seated within the hearts and souls of the people feeling the pain and suffering from the loss, it is hard to accept words like “everything is going to be fine.”
A loss is a loss, and although people are only expressing their sympathy and condolences, there are times it’s important to realize to talk less. Here are some words you shouldn’t say to a friend in grief, according to Crosswalk.com.
1. “If there’s anything I can do to help. Let me know what I can do.”
Your friend probably doesn’t even realize he/she hasn’t eaten all day. With grief, there is no energy left to think about anything else but the pain. They won’t know what you can do to help them.
Instead ask simple questions like, “Would you like me to come over and cook?” instead of making them think about what help they need.
2. “Hey, you look sad. If you want to talk, you can always count on me.”
First, the friend is in grief – it wouldn’t make sense that he/she looks happy. They probably don’t want to look sad and pointing it out will make them self-conscious rather than help them get through their suffering.
With the second statement, it isn’t a terrible thing to say. However, there are some friends who are private or still at a point where they don’t want to talk about how they feel. And if you are not that close, this statement looks and sounds off.
3. “I’m sorry for your loss. How are you holding up? How was the funeral?”
Hold your horses – it’s only been a few months, so please don’t ask about the funeral. Especially if you guys are in the middle of celebrations, this would be a case of a very bad timed question. You could probably ask them in private without ruining any high spirits. You would like to know, it’s fine as long as you try to be sensitive when and where to ask.
4. “I know how you feel. My dad died at 90.”
We may have our own grievances that have happened in our past, but no grief is equal to each other. Two different people, two different feelings. Yes, it hurts and people almost always assume that it brings comfort that someone had gone through the same thing. But it doesn’t, there are many things to consider in order to actually know how someone else feels. Just say you’re there or that you are sorry. Don’t try to compare.
5. “God is in control. ____ lived a full life and is now with Him.”
For one, maybe it is God’s wishes, but telling the friend that He did it for a good reason during the grieving time is something torturous – like we are forcing them not to feel pain because it is in His will. The second line of statement isn’t that bad, but for someone dear to them, it is not enough to console them at the moment. Try omitting the first line and add some wonderful memories you had on the second one.
Dealing with grief isn’t easy. The advice given isn’t perfect for everyone. The key point is that we should know the person, our friend, deeply so we may pickup cues on how we should talk to them.