It is often the case that people will say “The Best” and “The Worst” without meaning any harm, but instead as a way of comfort. When someone is grieving, it may be understandable for them to say something about themselves that is not too kindly. On the other hand, it might be preferable for a member of the clergy to say something like “He is in a better place” when they are consulted for guidance, while an acquaintance saying this may not be as well-received.
You would also not want to express to someone, that they are exactly abiding by the stages of grief. This is certainly something that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and I emphasize in our work, On Grief and Grieving, where we make it clear that these stages were never meant to be so rigid and confining when it comes to emotions. While some of these things which are said can be helpful to some people, the way in which they are said can have a counteractive effect to the original intended outcome.
Top 10 Best Things to Say Someone in Grief
1. I am deeply sorry for your loss.
2. I don't know how to say it, but I care about you.
3. I don't know what you're going through, but I'm here to help if I can.
4. I'm keeping you and your loved one in my thoughts and prayers.
5. I will never forget the wonderful memories I have of your loved one…
6. I'm here, just a phone call away, and I'm always ready and willing to lend a helping hand
7. Instead of speaking, express your affection through a hug
8. All of us need assistance at times like these and I am here to provide you with whatever help you require
9. If you ever require anything, I am usually available early or late
10. Keeping silent and simply being in the presence of the person
Top 10 Worst Things to Say Someone in Grief
1. Many people die young, At least she lived a long life.
2. He is in a better place
3. She brought this on herself
4. There is a reason for everything
5. Have you had enough of him yet? He's been dead for a while now
6. You can have another child still
7. She was truly a great person, so God wanted her to be with him
8. I know how you feel
9. She accomplished what she had come to do and it was time for her to leave
10. Be strong
Best & Worst Traits of people just trying to help
When it comes to trying to help a friend or loved one in grief, our first impulse is often to attempt to “fix” the situation. However, our good intentions can sometimes lead to instead causing more grief. Knowing the right thing to say is only one component of being a helpful and supportive emotional caregiver. Therefore, we have created two lists which extensively look at both the GOOD and the NOT SO GOOD aspects of people who are just trying to help.
The Best Traits
- Supportive, but not trying to fix it
- About feelings
- Non active, not telling anyone what to do
- Admitting can’t make it better
- Not asking for something or someone to change feelings
- Recognize loss
- Not time limited
The Worst Traits
- They want to fix the loss
- They are about our discomfort
- They are directive in nature
- They rationalize or try to explain loss
- They may be judgmental
- May minimize the loss
- Put a timeline on loss
How do you encourage someone after a funeral?
Ideas to assist a grieving individual in their initial days might include offering them a listening ear, providing comfort during this difficult time, or offering a helping hand with practical tasks. Below are some tips on how to help someone cope with the loss of a loved one:
- It is important to reach out to the bereaved person soon after their loved one has passed away, offering your comfort and support. This could be done via a personal visit, a telephone call, a text message, a sympathy card, or even a thoughtful gift of flowers.
- If you are able to, make sure to attend the funeral or memorial service. Let them know that you understand the difficulty that comes with these events, and are there to offer your support.
- It's important not to make assumptions when it comes to offering support. Make sure to ask them how you can best support them and then follow through on your offer.
- If they feel comfortable talking to you, take the time to listen and refrain from passing judgement.