What To Say and What Not To Say To Those Grieving


what to say to someone grieving

As Christmas approaches, people are preparing their homes for guests.  Maybe you’re preparing your own home or possibly  traveling to the home of someone you know.

Regardless, maybe there is someone who is going to be attending who has just experienced a great loss in their lives.  Maybe that someone is you.  In that case, this post is written for you.

I am writing today to those who are not currently grieving but for those who are.

I will preface this to say, I was (and maybe you, too at one time) one of those who was in the midst of grief.  We all experience grief at some point in our lives if we live long enough.  I am no stranger to grief and I can tell you, some things that I heard when no one thought I was listening, burned into my brain.

So, this Christmas put your compassionate hat on and take two seconds to think before you speak.  

Here are some tips for minding your words – wisely.

What To Say and What Not to Say to Someone Grieving:

The Best Things To Say To Someone In Grief

  1. I am here for you – whatever you may need.
  2. I wish I had the right words.  Just know I care.
  3. You and your loved one are in my thoughts and prayers.
  4. I am just a phone call away.
  5. I am usually up early (or late) if you ever need anything.
  6. I am so sorry for your loss.
  7. I don’t know how you feel, but I am here to help in any way I can.
  8. My favorite memory of your loved one is…
  9. Give a hug.  Sometimes, words aren’t needed.
  10. Say nothing.  Just be there with the person.

The Worst Things To Say To Someone In Grief

  1. He is in a better place.
  2. Everything happens for a reason.
  3. At least she lived a long life – when many die so young.
  4. Aren’t you over him yet?  He’s been gone for a while now.
  5. He was such a good person, God wanted him to be with him.
  6. It was her time.
  7. Be strong.
  8. She brought this on herself.
  9. You can still have another child.
  10. I know how you feel.

Some of the “what not to say” phrases seem pretty cold-hearted, if you think about.  At the time, however, they may seem to be innocent words.  Oftentimes, you just don’t know what to say or how to say it.

When confronted with a situation in which someone is experiencing grief during this Christmas and you find yourself saying to yourself, “I just don’t know what to say or how to say it, refer to the “what to say” list as your guide or simply just give the person a hug.

Don’t be the person that says, “I know how you feel” and suddenly the conversation is all about you and your loss that happened 5, 15, or 20 years ago.  That is the last thing a person in the midst of grieving wants to listen to.  Honestly, think from a place of compassion and love and you can’t go wrong.

If you really think about it, the person in the midst of grieving would probably prefer to be curled up in their bed with a box of tissues and the shades closed.  If they don’t and are the type who feel it’s therapeutic to be around people and prefer it, I can guarantee the last thing they want to do is help you feel better.  They, themselves, are hanging on by a thread.  Don’t add unnecessary pressure for them to find their words –  for you.

I hope you have found this post helpful.  We all experience grief at some point in our lives and grieve differently as well.  Some choose to run for the hills when confronted with it, while others are drawn to it, as I am (more on that in another post).

In closing, I want to share that grief will be the theme of my future posts for a time.  It’s a topic I deeply resonate with and honestly, a topic many shy away from.  Since this is a personal growth blog and I’m all about making lemons out of lemonade, I want to shed light on this important topic with the hopes that somewhere, someone is being helped – if even just one person.

Did this post resonate with you?  Did you find this helpful, whether you yourself has experienced loss or know someone who has?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or feel free to email me.  I read each and every one.

Have a blessed Monday.



About Victoria

Hi there! I'm Victoria: wife & mother of three with one pooch living in rural ND. I am a professional photographer turned writer, published author, and side-hustle entrepreneur. I firmly believe everything is "figureoutable," and if it doesn't challenge you - it doesn't change you.