I was recently talking to someone and trying to help them sort through some thoughts they were having about the insensitive comments people make when responding to grief. I am convinced that most people don’t try to be thoughtless when they encounter uncomfortable situations, they just don’t know what to say.
Most people just want a sympathetic ear when they are suffering a loss of any kind. They want to know that you care. Responding with solution-based comments, minimizing their pain, or remarks that come-off as justifying what they are going through, can be offensive and cause further hurt. Since hurt and anger are similar emotions, they also make us mad. No one needs more fuel for their fire of despair.
Here’s just a few things that you should not say to people who are upset and grieving a loss:
“It’s all part of God’s plan.”
“It was meant to be.”
“Time heals all things.”
“Be strong and you’ll get through this.”
“It could be so much worse.”
Instead, be present, listen, and pray for them. Here’s a few suggestions on what you can say:
“I am so sorry for your loss.”
“I feel for you.”
“I know you are so sad.”
“Let me know if I can do anything for you.”
“I care, and I am here for you.”
Time takes away the sting of death and loss, but no one wants to hear this when they feel like their heart’s been ripped out. Grief has a season of its own and it’s very personal. Don’t try to rush a friend through their grief, love them through their grief.