Bad Things To Say To The Grieving


I can already feel my blood boiling as I begin to compose this blog today.


Although, I do want to add that I don't think people really mean to upset someone with their words - they are just trying to help, and they mean well, it's just that the words can be a little thoughtless and insensitive to someone.


What matters most is the impact these words have on someone who is grieving, that's where my focus sits today, and why this sort of post makes me feel quite sad really, as I've been the recipient of some of these hurtful phrases.


It is very important to remember that people just don't understand. Out there in the muggle world of non widowed humans, they don't know the heartache that comes with losing someone they loved in the way that we do. I am glad they don't, because if they don't understand, it means they haven't hurt like we have.


When I've had these things said to me, I've always responded with a smart ass reply, because I just can't help it. I have had many people say to me, that it's time I found someone else (even at his funeral.....!) and I always reply, no, I don't need someone else, I already have someone to love, but sadly, he's dead. A bit harsh, but it does get the message across.


I have also argued back against stupid statements, like, at least he's not in pain now. I hate that. How do you actually know that? What if he's as tortured soul who took his illness and pain with him in whatever plain he went to next? He's not in pain, but I am, for ever and always now. It's heartbreaking.


All that said, try to understand that the words weren't spoken to hurt us, they were spoken to try to help and soothe us. If you have anyone who might benefit from some support in what to say going forward, point them to the section below.....


The Worst Things to Say to Someone in Grief

1. At least she lived a long life, many people die young 2. He is in a better place 3. She brought this on herself 4. There is a reason for everything 5. Aren’t you over him yet, he has been dead for awhile now 6. You can have another child still 7. She was such a good person God wanted her to be with him 8. I know how you feel 9. She did what she came here to do and it was her time to go 10. Be strong. This is the one I hate the most.


This list was taken from David Kessler's website, grief.com

It is not exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination, but this gives you an idea of things that are said. I am sure you have your own experience of cruel words too.


Helping Others Understand

Hello lovely friend. I'm really glad you're reading this part, as this is for you, the helper, the supporter, the rock of someone who is grieving and really hurting.


I think it's really important to first state that grieving is really horrible. It messes you up in all sorts of ways, you worry that you're not doing it right, that you're healing too slowly, too quickly, you feel afraid for your own life and mortality, and those around you, you feel guilt because you're still alive, you feel guilt because you feel you should have done things differently and they might still be alive if you'd taken a different action. You feel angry, you might know why, or you might not.


You feel the grief physically too. You are physically exhausted from all the tears and sleepless nights, from having to put on a brave face because everyone keeps telling you that you're strong and you feel you need to keep up the facade to stop them telling you that you were doing so well, what happened? (The answer by the way, is our partner's are still dead, so we're still in pain, hurting and grieving). You might feel anxious, bringing with it a whole new world of aches, pains, panic attacks and so on.


So, you see, grief itself is all consuming, without even touching on the practical side of legal matters, funerals, wills, it really is a head wrecker.


All of these things have such a huge impact on a griever, and can make them feel incredibly vulnerable, and sensitive. This is why it is really important for you to try and get an understanding of what isn't helpful, and tomorrow, I'll be posting about good things to say, so hope that will help you too!


Number 10 pushed me in to 6 months of being in denial of my grief. I must have been told a hundred times in the first week how strong I was. It wasn't strength, it was adrenaline kicking in and pushing me to do all those necessary things. Calling everyone to let them know he'd died, starting to arrange the funeral, speaking with funeral directors, dealing with police and potential postmortem, choosing music for the funeral, sorting out banks, trying to sort out his credit card debts. All fun, and an absolute nightmare.


With all of these things, I was just totally consumed. It wasn't strength, it was just a necessary reaction. So perhaps I appeared strong, because I wasn't breaking down every five minutes that I was in the company of anyone, because I saved all the tears until I was alone at night, and just sobbed until I could cry no more. I wasn't strong, but everyone kept telling me I was, and that felt good to hear, that people were proud of me, so I just rolled with it. Then on those moments they saw the true feelings that were going on, they'd ask me, with a tilted head, what was wrong, I was doing so well...... That felt horrible to hear, so I just did the suck it up buttercup thing and slapped on a smile.


6 months later, I was not dealing with my grief, I felt I couldn't, because now everyone thought I was over it. Far from the truth, I assure you. My wall came crumbling down when someone asked me how I was feeling, and the question felt genuine. I answered with a sob, and couldn't stop. I walked out of work, hid at home for 24 hours, the police were out searching for me as I'd been reported as a missing vulnerable person. I didn't go back to work for 6 months. I needed to grieve and heal, because the damage I'd caused myself was horrendous. All because I wanted to be the strong person they thought I was. What I really should have focused on was being the strong woman I deserved to be - the one who stood up and asked for help. That is a sign of true strength.


If you don't know what to say, it is totally ok for you to say that, you don't have to have the answers, all we ask if that you are present, be there, be kind and just listen, that is the greatest gift you can give us.

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