64 of the Best Things Ever Said to a Griever

People ask us this question time and again: what should I say to someone who’s grieving? They ask hoping there is an easy answer or checklist, but I have bad news, those things don’t exist.

We recently asked WYG readers about the best and worst things anyone has said to them in their grief, hoping for some specific examples that we might then be able to offer as guidance to all those seeking answers. And though they provided some amazing insight, things still remain – well – complicated.

In fact, we found that some of the EXACT SAME PHRASES were listed on both the best and worst list. Arggg! Why is this so tricky?

Well, we’ve said it before and we’ll probably say it a million more times – what feels right and helpful for one person may be all wrong for another. Also, timing can make all the difference, so you may just have the bad luck of picking the wrong moment. Or, you might be the right person to say something to one friend or family member, but the wrong person to say it to another. Eleanor made a super graphic about this over in the post of the 64 Worst Things Ever Said to a Griever, so make sure you check that out if you missed it.

In case that isn’t enough of a disclaimer, before we dive into the list of “best things” you can watch the video below for some of our simple tried and true tips. These won’t necessarily guarantee that you say the “right” thing, but they are a good place to start.



As for those “best things” that we’re shared with us – well – you’ll see that sometimes the items on this list aren’t especially specific. These suggestions are often general statements or ways of being.

We think this is worth noting because people often fixate on having the “right” words to make someone feel better, but often the best thing you can do has nothing to do with what you say, but how you maintain a supportive presence. So, without further ado . . .

1. “There are no words”

2. “I will travel to you and stay with you several days

3. “You can talk to me about your mum whenever you want – in 5, 10, 30 years

4. “Your grief-reactions are normal/appropriate“.

5. “You aren’t going crazy”

6. “Tell me more about your mother

7. Someone gave me a very sincere compliment on how I’ve handled raising my kids as a single mother a few years after my husband died. Meant the world to me to hear it. It’s a lonely journey. I needed that boost.

8. “I’m just really sorry you’ve had to go through this”. She kept her gaze into my eyes as I sobbed… It was so powerful just being “witnessed”

9. “Your Dad was a wonderful man”.

10. “Learn to live in acceptance of the loss, not in spite of the loss”

11. “She’s just made a change of address”

12. “Grief has no expiration date”

13. “It’s okay to have bad days because it reminds you how much you love them and the good days remind you they’re right there with you”.

14. “Just talk about your son whenever you feel like”

 

15. “You don’t have to talk. I will just sit beside you“.

 

16. My 81-year-old Father drove quite a distance to just sit with me and as he sat listening to me completely fall apart he reached over and put his arm around me and quietly said, “please know this is only temporary you will get to finish raising him one day. Then he said, I will get there before you and I will carry your messages to him“.

17. “We’ve asked your colleagues and they have donated enough paid time off for you to take the time you need”

18. “We were just talking about him last night”

19. “We remember him and speak of him often

20. “When you feel that she’s with you know that she really is”

21. “She is never far away”

22. “Let me know if I can help”

23. “I’m sorry for your loss”

24.When someone tells you they are there for you, brings you flowers or comfort food, or your best friend comes over after you’ve told her not to (because you didn’t want to be a bother) because she knows you that well – those are the types of things that make a difference.

25. “I was really mad at God when I found out”

26. “It f#&king sucks

27. “We won’t forget him”

 

28. “He was such a special kid”

29. “I don’t know what to say but I can listen”

30. “He would be proud of you”

31. “I am praying for you and will always be”

32. “I love you”

33. “Thank you for giving us the most beautiful, generous, loving person we’ve ever known”.

34. “We loved her like she was one of the family”.

35.“You’ve been a good dad to them”

36. When my Mom passed a good friend of mine looked me in the eye and with such love and concern said “I am worried about you. I think you should consider grief therapy.” I did so because of her genuine concern and courage to say that to me at the time

37. “One day you will be talking about Jessica and a smile will come to your face first before a tear”

38. The best thing was from a chaplain who gave me permission to be mad as hell and instead of asking ‘why me?’ Asking ‘why not me?’

39. My mom made me socks and a hat for my baby gone-too-soon in pregnancy. She said, “every baby deserves to be celebrated, no matter how long they are with us.”

40. “A part of your loved one lives in you and all those he loved”

 

41. “Be as kind to yourself as you are to everyone else”

 

42. I received a card from a former college classmate of my husband. In the card she wrote about how proud my husband had been of me and how happy I had made him. She wrote that every time their paths crossed over the years that he always spoke so highly of me. She was in awe of how proud he was to have me as his wife.

43. “You will never get ‘over it’, but you will get through it”

44. “I can see by these pictures how much you loved each other. She must have known every day she was loved”.

45. “There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Your life has been changed forever”.

46. “You’re allowed to feel and be exactly as you are because this is your experience and no one else’s”.

47. “I wouldn’t be alive today if your dad hadn’t helped me get sober by giving me a reason to be sober”.

48. The best thing is when someone says, “I remember…” and then goes on to share a memory of the person you’ve lost.

49. “I cannot possibly understand how you feel. But I’m here”.

50. When I told a friend my heart is broken she said “I will lend you mine til yours has mended

51. “It’s okay not to be okay”

52. “Look for signs. He will show you he is with you” [from another grieving mom]

 

53. “He/she is with you always, and is proud of you for the way you live your life”

54. I love when someone hears a song that reminds them of him & they reach out to tell me!

55. “Come rest a minute – let’s talk about & remember all those sweet memories. Your dad was a great man & father”.

56. “We’ll get through this together”

57. “Now you’ve got someone up there watching out for you”

58. “It’s okay to hurt. Don’t hold back your tears”

59. “I have no words, this just sucks”

60. “What the F*^k? how can this be?”

61. “He was so loved and my life is better because he was in it”.

62. “You are a good mother and his death with never change that”

63. “You are not moving on you are moving forward”

64. The woman cleaning out my father’s absolutely vile condo, when I admitted how embarrassing I found the state of his living space and apologized to her said, “I don’t judge. Everyone has different priorities. He was clearly a wonderful father who was deeply loved.”

What would you add to the list of best things to say to someone grieving? Leave a comment with the best thing someone said to you in your grief or a general tip you have about how to support someone grieving. 

 
 
March 4, 2020

81 responses on "64 of the Best Things Ever Said to a Griever"

  1. The night my son died, I was obviously in shock, but, somehow I was on the phone to my brother, and I simply said, Danny is dead, and I remember my brother saying, we’re on our way! I don’t remember many things, but, somewhere inside those few words brought me comfort. My brothers live almost an hour away from me. I don’t remember a lot about that night, but, having them near helped. The worse thing ever said, came from a waitress that I was familiar with, who said, after a couple of months (if it was even that long), you need to move on! I felt like she slapped me in the face! That was someone who had no idea of the pain I was in, but, her words still ring in my ears, and that was nineteen years ago!

  2. When my mom died my cousin wrapped his arms around me, leaned into my ear, and whispered, ” We loved her too.” Another cousin came up to me and rubbed on my back.

  3. After my wife’s sudden death fifteen months ago, I received many thoughtful cards and letters that reflected the extraordinary person who had shared my life for over forty years. This post prompted me to reread these generous messages that reminded how lucky I am to have this special person in my life. Yes, Jude is still a huge part of my life.
    I have selected one message to share my beautiful Jude with you.
    “I have been incredibly inspired by Jude. Her strength tempered by gentleness, her determination tempered by by listening, her faith in human nature. I have been overwhelmed by the number people who observed that it was Jude who encouraged them, ‘took a chance’ on them, believed in them and helped them believe in themselves. I have been blessed by her quiet confidence in me, her wry smile and firm but gentle guidance.
    Thank you Jude for having as your priority a determination to bring out the best in people.”

  4. Obviously, not all of these are great for everyone. But they are generally better than a lot of things ppl say. I”ve been very fortunate in that not many ppl said thoughtless things. I”m spiritual, but not specifically Christian. I told myself I’d kick whoever said ‘he’s in a better place’ and that person turned out to be my mother. I did not kick her. He was quite content being with me, as he often told me. He loved being with me and went thru a lot of medical crap to be able to do it. I am glad he is no longer in pain, b/c his last 6 months were rough. But mostly, people acknowledged how much we loved each other, and tried to show me support in tangible ways. I had one friend who came from out of town, stayed at another friend’s house so she wasn’t underfoot, but came over every day that first two weeks. Many friends made me trinkets or mementos. Several spoke at his funeral of their favorite memories or how he made them feel. A few just said very little, but flat out said they didn’t know what to say. However, just the nods and quiet check-ins were great. I”m at 11 months, and they still do it. A fellow widow who lost her husband suddenly in 2016 has been texting me on all the days that are most likely to be bad just to say hi, I’m with you. I did have one friend who said nothing, would not acknowledge it, didn’t even offer condolences and just pretended my husband never existed, pointedly changing the topic if I brought Chris up. That one hurt. That wasn’t companionable silence, that was erasure. A widow or grieving person may want to talk about their loss…shutting them down or out is not kind. It may be awkward or uncomfortable. Please try to accept it if you care for that person at all.

  5. My 29 year old son died last month. He was married with small children, I’ve spent a lot of time with them since, I did before, now I’m needed more and I like to stay busy. The only thing that has bothered me is people wanting to know details of his death. Why? Every time we tell it we have to relive it. Ask me about our big family fun weekends, cooking his favorite dishes, how much he loves his family, what a hard worker he has been, a devoted son, a faithful friend. Nothing else has bothered me, no one knows what to say, it’s an impossible situation, and I probably won’t remember, I will remember that you reached out in love, and that matters to me. I tell my daughter-in-law, this is our family, our grief, and it’s okay to handle it however it feels right to us. My favorite support is a simple hug, or if far away a virtual hug. I’ve had old friends reach out to say holy cow Steph, sending you so many hugs. That’s nice too. People have reached out to ask if I’m eating and/or sleeping, that helps too, for a while I wasn’t. We’re building our new family normal, and we’re doing it as a team. Love and hugs to you all, do your grief your way, and reach out whenever you need to.

  6. When my husband died at 43 and I had 4 children to raise my neighbor and “friend” who had recently been divorced, said to me a few days after the funeral “You are luckier than me …. your husband didn’t choose to leave you.” OMG …. I”M LUCKIER THAN HER !!!!??? My children no longer has their father … I no longer have their other parent to help in decisions about raising them …. and I’m luckier than her?!! I was appalled !!

  7. I have just realized now that anything that starts with “at least” is not helpful and I stop listening. My sibling died and many people say “at least you have [my husband’s name”. I am grateful every day to have a supportive husband, but a husband and sibling are two different things and fill two different roles. The people saying it to me usually have a spouse and one (if not more than one) living siblings. It makes me feel like what I get is enough for me even though they have a lot more.

  8. I struggle with the “at leasts” even now that I am the griever ! I am one of those always trying to find a bright side.. I find it saying it to myself. At least I have my health, at least I am financially stable. I least I am young enough to cope with the changes, at least we had time to say goodbye.. But I am learning to not say it to others. The comments that bother me the most are the religious ones. my people know I am not , so your prayers are not helping me, just you . And no he has not just changed addresses.

  9. I had a friend call to say she was flying in to stay with me so I could get a good night sleep.

  10. Having recently lost my daughter, I have learned not to take things personally when people fail to word them correctly. The fact that they have come forward and acknowledged the loss in what is meant to be a thoughtful and loving way is far more meaningful than not acknowledging it at all as though it never happened. Some of the things I have heard, I have been guilty of saying myself before my experience, only meaning well and not knowing what to say. What can be said to me may be offensive to others and vice versa. Also, absolute silence (although present) can mean that someone just wants you to know that they are there and they don’t know what to say. Losing my daughter was the worst experience I have ever had. I know that I will never get “over” it, but I do get through it… day… by… day. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t grieve… mostly in private.

    I have to agree with removing toxic people from your life. Those kinds of people aren’t even good for themselves. Don’t get caught in their snare and be dragged down. I have had to cut out some of my closest family members for just being themselves. If a relationship doesn’t benefit both parties, it’s not good for you and that is not meant in a materialistic way. For me, attending family functions with these people (at their homes), I couldn’t wait to leave before I even arrived. I knew how they would make me feel and I didn’t want to go through it. My daughter had done much soul searching and self-reflection while she was ill and decided to sever the same relationships before passing. They weren’t edifying and were producing the same ill feelings in her before her diagnoses (there were many). Though cancer grieved her, it opened her eyes up to who and what was important and how we should treat ourselves well, even in our choices of people we surround ourselves with. In the end, she did not regret it. She didn’t have peace because she was leaving a husband and two small girls behind, but she had peace with all her other decisions.

    I try to bear in mind that not everyone knows what to say or how to say it because for some people it wouldn’t be offensive, while with others it seems to enrage them. Perhaps, we should try to look at the intention of the words rather than the words themselves.

    • Thank you for this very insightful advice. I’m sure we’ve all said ‘the wrong thing’ at some point in our lives and I’m pretty certain that no-one would deliberately say something insensitive to a grieving person. Since losing my parents I have learnt that it’s always best to acknowledge someone’s loss, even though it’s always difficult to find the right words. I am struggling today to find the right words to say to a Sister who I don’t really get on with and only meet at large family gatherings but who has just lost her (adult) daughter. I wasn’t sure if she would want to hear from me but your words have reassured me that I do really know that it’s the right thing to do. Kind regards, Georgie

  11. From a person who lost there dad, I can tell you straight away these are wrong.
    never say things like “he was a wonderful man” in the past tense. It’s make us feel worse realising he’s actually gone.

    never say: ”i’m sorry for your loss” because first off we don’t know how to reply, and also we’ve heard it from every single other person we know. it’s a common thing to say “i’m sorry for your loss”, it makes us feel as if you don’t care.

    never say: “i’m here for you”. seriously shut up! i know your here for me, just like every other person who gave me the puppy dogs eyes and said, “i’m sorry for your loss, i’m here for you”. then walks away!!!! we know you don’t care, we’re not stupid.

    instead of being stupid and annoying you should do this:
    – don’t try t pretend to understand what we’re going through , cause you don’t.

    – don’t get all awkward when you talk about your dads in front of us, we may go quiet. But that is a way for our brain to make sure we don’t cry in ground of you.

    -ask us questions ONLY with permission. say, “if you don’t mind me asking” or “you don’t have to answer but”. if you just ask a random question about our dad without asking we don’t have the time to think if we want to answer or not, or to figure out if we will cry.

    • So, as someone who has not had to deal with the loss of a family member but does interact on a daily basis with people that have recently lost someone, what SHOULD I say? You listed a number of things that you think one shouldn’t say to a grieving person, but it would definitely help me to know what you think would be a considerate and sincere response. While I may not necessarily know these people I interact with well, I absolutely feel for them. Was there anything someone said that DID give you comfort or adequately convey their sincere condolences?

      • My name is Ashley and I am 31 years Young. In April of 2016 my cousin who was one of my best friends and her fiance which she had been with for 12 years, were involved in a 5 car pile up in which both of them passed away. My cousin was 32 years old and her fiance was 35 years old, all they were doing was sitting at a red light in a major intersection literally doing nothing wrong when a kid was going 90 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour Zone, failed to even try to break Which led to them taking the initial impact. Since they were at the front of the line of the stoplight, there were pushed into incoming traffic in which several other vehicles ended up involved.
        instead of stopping to render Aid, he fled the scene leaving for other vehicles without attempting to make sure that anyone was okay basically speaking volumes of his character because it doesn’t matter how scared you are the right thing to do is to render Aid. Her fiance basically died at the scene and my cousin was taken off of life support two days later as she had way too many internal injuries and would have basically been a vegetable, sadly.

        the legal proceeding for criminal charges is still pending and it has been going on officially for one year as the guy did not get arrested until March of 2019. both families will never truly reach the peace that they need or anything until this man is held accountable as he has between 13 to 15 charges against him including vehicular homicide, DUI manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident with death etc.

        While I continue to grieve and may never stop doing so I really do try to count my blessings that I’m still here and alive but it’s just not the same without them 💔

    • So what should a person say?

  12. Thanks so much for so many helpful suggestions – it can be very difficult to know what to say sometimes, especially to people who are experiencing grief that you haven’t experienced yourself. And I think the ideas and comments above demonstrate how differently people experience grief, and how different situations of loss can be.

    The only of the 64 suggestions above that I don’t agree with is number 31. As a person without religious beliefs, saying ‘I will be praying for you’ is equivalent to ‘I won’t be doing anything’, as I don’t believe that praying IS doing anything but making the person who’s praying feel like they’ve done something. If you KNOW that the person grieving holds similar beliefs to you, and believes prayer to be valuable, then of course, it could be the right thing to say. Otherwise, perhaps choose something unrelated to your own beliefs, and more relevant to the grieving person’s feelings.

  13. 3 of my close friends list their best friend to suicide. I did not know their friend well and I have tried to support them the best I can but I am running out of things to say. What is the best thing I can do for them ?

  14. After losing my father in a car accident, a man that employed both of my brothers gave us a card and enclosed a heartfelt, handwritten letter. He started by saying that he’d had the opportunity to get to know both of my brothers very well and also had the opportunity to meet and work with my father. He went on to say how impressed he was with the fine, young men my brothers were and that once he met my father it was easy to see how they turned out to be such wonderful people. He then explained that he never had a good relationship with his father and that it was truly wonderful to see my father interact with his son’s like friends, family and coworkers. He admired the relationship the three of them had and made a point of saying he hoped they realized how special and unique that was.
    That letter meant the world to my family. Within the last few years, I learned from one of my brothers that the man died tragically in a work accident. I wept as though I knew him well even though I didn’t; “How could a man that gave my family such a special gift die such a violent and tragic death?!”
    I was weeping for the loss of a good soul; a man that wasn’t afraid to express himself and his feelings to another with hopes of helping them heal.

  15. something ive always wanted to hear is just a simple
    “ive got you”
    i lost my cat at a young age. she helped me through alot and i felt very lost when i realized she had ran away. none of my family ever realized the grief it caused me except for one of my sisters. we sat in my moms car one day a year after cleos disappearance and what helped me most was the two of us sitting quietly and her hugging me and letting me cry on her shoulder. ive never gotten any words to help, but theres always those quiet moments where i can sit somewhere and watch the pure black sky and get reminded of seeing her black fur.

    • id like to mention as well, my father bluntly said ‘she probably ran away’ infront of me, and i was in the car, so i felt as if i had to hold back tears for another two hours until we got to our destination, but even then i didnt get a single second alone to cry
      i dont blame them, i just wish their actions were different.

  16. Kathleen Elsner-MadsenSeptember 29, 2019 at 3:15 amReply

    When my husband died, my 10 year old nephew did not feel comfortable coming to the memorial. So, he sent a note (with his mom), to me that simply said “Aunt Kathy, I am sorry Uncle Lloyd died.” That was 24 years ago and I still find that it comforts me. It truly affected me that a 10 year old thought to send me a note, and said something so appropriate and meaningful.

    • Wow… I lost a 25 year old daughter most 10 years ago and that’s even painful to believe. But even I struggle not on what to say, what not to say b/c EVERYONE is different. I do love that your nephew just said “it”. Not, I’m sorry for your loss which is akin to saying I’m sorry your party was rained out: just not enough. No one has ever said, “I am sorry Tabby died or my cousin Tabby died, etc” although I KNOW they ARE sorry…

  17. My dear mother passed 1 month ago. I’m an only child. I had been caring for her in my home since her paralysis last December. I have never felt so alone. After hearing at least 100 times, “at least”, my pastor sent me a text saying simply, “you loved her well”. How powerful and comforting!

    • Vanessa, I am so sorry for your loss.
      You did such a beautiful and compassionate act in caring for your Mother. She will have known how much you loved her.

      I hope you will find comfort in knowing how much your gesture of love would have meant to her.

      I wish you much comfort and I send a hug.

  18. Great things to do and say, I like them all and wish I had heard even one of them from my husband’s family after my beloved brother tragically ended his life nearly three months ago. I regrettably hosted a birthday party for my husband’s family five weeks after his death and even before the memorial service was held, and my husband’s sister and her husband came over as well. My husband had shared the news with them but I hadn’t personally spoken to any of them since it happened. Upon their arrival, they made themselves cozy and my BIL blurts out “What do you think of Robin Williams and mental health?” Are you freaking kidding me??? Then he proceeds to spew his atheistic viewpoints saying “There is no God, there are no miracles, blah blah blah.” Then he goes on to attack Christians and how they deface the planet and mistreat animals. Then he wanted to discuss they hypocrisy of the evangelicals supporting Trump. He knows I’m Christian and a Republican. No comforting words were ever said, nor did I even receive “I’m sorry for your loss”, nor a hug. Nothing – no acknowledgement of the loss of my brother.

    I had tried to leave at least once over the course of this happening and was sucked back in with a promise we would have friendly conversation. Never happened and just got worse. I finally yelled at my SIL and she exploded and ran off crying. Of course it was all my fault and now my husband’s toxic family thinks I’m the loony one. I have been traumatized over this and am in counseling.

    Stay away from all toxic people even if they have experience with loss. These nasty people are out of my life!!!

    • The first thing I’d like to say is I’m so sorry for the loss of your brother!! Secondly, my heart just breaks for you reading your post.😥
      How insensitive!! I could never forgive that!
      Sending you much love💖

    • I’m not sure what made me look at this site. Or even read the comments. But, you lost your brother, around the same time i lost mine it seems. Mine also took his own life. And the craziest part is you have the same name as his biological mother lol. I’m very sorry for your loss. Cutting out the toxic people in my life while grieving was incredibly difficult but rewarding in the end. Sometimes you have to distance yourself for the sake of your sanity. Losing a brother is an awful pain, but one day we’ll be okay again.

    • The words that come to mind are a combination of horror for your loss and then, the pain caused by the comments of others.

      It’s uncomfortable to host any sort of party after a great loss such as yours… maybe those guests also felt awkward and expressed this through their inappropriate statements.

      In my family culture, one would not come to a birthday party and directly offer sympathy while celebrating a birthday. I would be so confused and wonder why the birthday was taking place for an adult… perhaps it would be possible to manage a child’s party…

      Perhaps you need to give yourself permission to stop, , to grieve and to observe a period of mourning… the old expression of grief having priority may be wise.

      The in-laws simply need to know you are grieving and need to acknowledge the loss. If they do not… let your husband know they need to bring over meals and show support however they can manage.

      We go into shock and just try to keep going in our society . A friend of mine from India finds this shocking and expressed dismay at how American society expects people to take part in social events after suffering loss.

      You are entitled to grieve and not have to host parties for a year.

      May your faith being comfort to your heart during this sad time.

  19. Lovely comment from my 8 year old nephew .. Will we have to get Dad and Jo adopted now they have lost their Mum and Dad? … Sometimes it is nice to laugh even when you feel totally sad and empty!

  20. Don’t be sad that you have lost your mum and dad so young … feel lucky that you had such special parents in the first place

    • That sound dismissive and minimizes her pain

      • hello everyone and I would like to apologize in advance, I mean no disrespect but speaking from my experience of losing both of my parents when I was a teenager do not ever tell people to be grateful for the time they had with their parents because that’s automatic, grieving does not mean that they are not grateful and means that they had such strong love and hopefully such a great relationship that it hurts even more. When you lose a parent or anyone you’re close to it takes even the smallest triggers to throw you back into grieving. So while I respect everyone’s opinion, do not be dismissive of someone’s pain and grief, Embrace and accept it and know that not only are their feelings valid but they can take as long as they damn well need

  21. I thnk the most upsetting kind of response for me is one in which there is no hope: “Things will never be the same again,” or “You’ll never stop grieving.” Or simply staring soulfully at me while saying, “I’m sorry it’s so hard.” Shudder. That makes me feel more desolate than anything else could.

    Instead, I *want* others to share their own stories of grief with me. I *want* to know I’m not the only person who has felt this way. I want the to be reminded that every life must physically come to an end but that an emotional/spiritual bond carries on. I sometimes find “at least” statements helpful–especially, “at least she’s no longer in pain.” That’s true, and I’m deeply grateful for it. I want to hear, “We will get through this together” and “It’s okay to feel whatever you feel. We want to see you anyway.” But I’ve had times in my life when I was so beaten down myself that I couldn’t support anyone else in their grief. Now that it’s my turn again, I understand some people’s need to back away. Maybe one day we can reconnect.

    I guess what I’m saying is, what offends one person may be helpful or at least acceptable for another. I fear that creating “rules” for how people should respond to grief may do more harm than good, because people need different responses depending on their circumstances, values, temperament, etc., and they have varying tolerance levels, depending on their own experiences.

  22. You were the light of his life

  23. My husband’s aunt and my personal experience after our 6 year old daughter was killed taught me these phrases. When you meet a friend or loved one who is grieving, never ask “How are you?” Instead sincerely say “ I am so glad to see you today.” Followed by a hug if appropriate. Similarly, if calling, say or leave this message, “I’m so glad to hear the sound of your voice! I love the sound of your voice.” Our accepted way of casually asking “How are you?”, even in the grocery store check out line, can be a devastating question to someone in the midst of mourning.

  24. When I go to a wake, I just say I am sorry and nothing else. If something else needs to be said I let the mourner say it. The grieving person may be in a daze and won’t remember most of what happened that day so why carry on a conversation with them unless they initiate it? At my mothers wake people sent a lot of flowers. While brothers and sisters where greeting guests I made it a point of viewing the beautiful flowers people sent for my mom. I am the one who handled my mom’s wake and funeral completely. The funeral director told me I was the only one who took the time to look at all the floral arrangements. People may not be able to say anything other than send floral memorials. At least those paying their respects sees a family member looking at the arrangements and reading the cards.

  25. One of my close friends just lost her dad to an overdose, the same way she lost her mom. We’re only in sixth grade. i don’t know what to say or do. i didnt really know her dad. what would be a good idea for a gift?

    • Dear Abby, Hug your friend, tell her you love her, buy her a lovely “friend forever” card that she can hold and look at when she’s sad, don’t be afraid to just be with her when she cries and don’t try to stop her.

      • don’t buy them a gift, it makes them feel like the gift is only important because they lost there dad. it makes us feel as if your being rewarded for your dad/mums passing. seriously DONT

  26. The best advice I received was “Do not do things to try to recreate the past, for example Xmas dinners as it is impossible since Xmas will never be the same without your mother. Instead you have to create a Xmas tradition of your own.”. The worst thing I heard came after telling a friend about a comforting dream I had about my mom and he said; ” Geez, I wish you would just let that sweet woman rest in peace “! I responded ‘revisit that thought if you are ever in the position of having lost someone you loved so much. “

  27. Hi, So one of my best friend is losing his aunt. and I don’t know how to help him, he’s lost so many people and I just want to help him as much as I can, But I don’t know how

    • The best thing ypu can do is just be present and available. If he wants to talk just listen. There’s nothing you can change what he’s gpimg through. Just be there. Most people run for the hills because they don’t know what to say or do.

  28. Dave will never be far away. You will hurt and wonder how to go on but Dave will always be in your heart. Carry him with you.

  29. I just lost my mom two months ago. I would say a few things have helped. A friend who lost her daughter to a violent crime, has told me that we will always have a hole in our hearts, but the hole starts to be filled with more happy memories and less of the sadness around their deaths and loss. Believe it or not. I have loved the cards. Every card sent has been a treasure to me. Just knowing they cared enough to take the time to send one means the world to me. As far as what hasn’t helped. When people keep telling me she is close to me. I will feel her and she will send me signs she is still with me, that doesn’t help me. I don’t feel my mom at all. We never had a touchy, feely relationship, but I knew she loved me. I don’t even expect to feel her with me, but it does add to my grief when others say it as though everyone feels their loved one after they die. Also, I would ask that friends and family not presume to know or understand your relationship with the one you lost. When someone says to me that I wasn’t that close to my mom, that doesn’t help. Just because I didn’t spend every day with her or go shopping all the time doesn’t mean she didn’t have a very real and personal relationship. I am not upset at all with my well-meaning loved ones and friends. These are just some observations I have made in this very young experience I have had with grief.

    • Dawn,

      I lost my mom 2 months ago, as of today.

      I hope you are still taking the time you need to process through what has happened. I just wanted to say that it helped to know someone else had lived through this. I know everyone eventually loses their mom (unless she loses them first), but it doesn’t minimize or change the pain. I was what people would describe as “extremely close” with my mom…but I don’t know how much that does or doesn’t change the severing of one of the most important relationships of our lives.

      Thinking of you.

  30. I gave birth to twins it was a week before my due date after hours of my mum telling them i was in labour i gave birth to the first twin wich was a boy but he didn’t take a breath. Then they started me off with the second twin three hours later she was born breathing but not for long she lasted 45 minutes they were both over 5 pound in weight. That was a few years ago now but I never new what to say because of my babies one was breathing one wasn’t. Even when I speak of them now i get made to feel like am being stupid so I don’t speak about them i think of them night and day.

    • My heart goes out to youMay 14, 2019 at 7:31 pmReply

      Michelle, I just read this now, and I know it is long after you posted, but I am so sorry for your loss. Reading your story made my heart sink. I can’t possibly imagine how I would cope with that kind of loss. Ever. And I can’t believe that you would be made to feel stupid about it. That is beyond horrible. You do not deserve that. The death of a child is something no one should have to experience, and the death of two newborn twins. You poor poor thing. My heart aches for you.

      I know that people don’t know how to respond to grief, and even more so if it falls outside of what we expect and know. It is easier somewhat if someone can say, “They had a good life,” or share stories. But the kind of tragedy you have experienced is so horrifying to people that they don’t know what to say. I suspect they feel stupid, or frightened, or uncomfortable. But this is through no failing on your part. This is a failure of them, of us.

      I am so sad that you have ever been made to feel stupid for your suffering. You are not.

    • Your children are your children. It doesn’t matter whether they took a breath or lived for 70 years. Both of your babies mattered and changed the world in their own unique way. It could be that others are purely too uncomfortable and does not know how to respond or how to comfort you, and that feeling is turned into feeling stupid. A grieving parent is never stupid. Your feelings might not be validated, but it is never stupid.

      I don’t really talk about my young adult son who ended his life a couple of years ago because of that same discomfort I can see and feel from others and will only share something where I’m emotionally safe. Those people are so far and few in between and that is just an additional sadness in loss.

    • My niece is part of a wonderful support group that is helping her so much please go to hopemommies.org. She has a Facebook page named “Rilla Handmade” that is dedicated to my great niece . She makes hand crafted jewelry and donates 10% of her profits to Hope Box.

      My prayers are with you and I hope this helps you in some way and that you can in turn help others.

    • My niece is part of a wonderful support group that is helping her so much please go to hopemommies.org.

      She has a Facebook page named “Rilla Handmade” that is dedicated to my great niece . She makes hand crafted jewelry and donates 10% of her profits to Hope Box.

      My prayers are with you and I hope this helps you in some way and that you can in turn help others.

  31. My brothers once said to me “Breathe. You’re ok. Breathe, Mar. Find your center. It’s there. You just have to find it.” I guess, this helped me a lot.

  32. About a week after my husband died suddenly of a cardiac arrest at 51, our apprentice came over with his kids. Grace, who was 4 at the time, came in and said, “We aren’t allowed to talk about Jack because it will make you sad.” Out of the mouths of babes. I told her to talk all she wanted about Jack, it was okay. Since that time periodically she will talk about him with her parents or me and it is always something profound. About a month ago she gave me a note after church written on an offering envelope that said, “I love you, Love Grace”. Lifts my spirits every time.

  33. Lost my daughter aged 16,13 years ago this October just passed it was her 30th Birthday on 10th November we had a memorial party for her but I was really devastated in the afternoon I told a few family members I didn’t think I could go they told me to stop being a drama queen I’ve never felt so hurt and still do that my own family think and said this to me.

    • I’m so so sorry that ANYONE at all could say that to you.
      I’m sorry for your loss and you celebrate your Baby’s life and keep her memory alive and in your heart, for the rest of your life whenever you want to.
      Don’t let anger and hurt become what you associate the beautiful memory of your beloved and angelic daughter.
      The Lord is close to the broken hearted and comforts those that are crushed in spirit!

  34. I really like the phrase, ” living on” as opposed to ” moving on”. My husband and I were in love from the age of 16,
    married at 21, and were parted in the physical sense 37 years later. That was 18 months ago, and I grieve every
    day. When people ask me how I am I say that I am better than I was early on, because I am. I also say that I am living with grief and still finding my footing; and that God is so good, because He is. Now I’m going to add that I am living on. This is hard and has hurt me more than anything ever has. I just keep saying to myself that God loves me and I’m going to be okay. I’ve told my adult children that we all have to be okay with not being okay for some time. It’s a very gradual process. I grieve with all of you for your deep and painful losses. But I have hope in Christ and am embracing the joy I have in the life my wonderful man and I built together. I also grieve for the life we will not have together here. My girlfriends have been wonderful to me and have said all the right things. Several have told me that I had the best marriage of anyone they knew. I think that, too. One friend said that it makes sense to her that I’m having such a hard time settling into this new life of mine. “Why wouldn’t it be hard, girlfriend? You’ve been in love with him since you were a child.” That was great. I’m having a hard time. I’m still in love with him. I haven’t lost him. God didn’t take him away from me. He welcomed my beloved home when he died. I’m sad, I’m sick sometimes, but I’m getting better and I’m living on. Thank you all and God bless and keep you all.

    • Thank you for this. I did not lose my husband, but I lost my dad to a drunk driver this October, 2018. Your post was very comforting. I love what you told your children…”We all have to be ok, with not being ok.” That is such a true statement. Your post is such a reminder to my family and I that God loves us. I will remember to tell myself that, because I and a lot of my family have been mad trying to figure out why. Thank you for your post! I will continue to pray for your family and you as you continue to deal with the loss of your husband and beloved family member. I hope that you find comfort in knowing that your post has helped someone else going thru grief as well.

    • I lost my husband and best friend last December. It has been 13 months now. I supported him through his illness always being positive for him. Yes, married 39 years, together 45 years. I thought support groups would help the numbness but I didn’t like the way I was trying to make everyone else in my group feel better.
      I still think he will walk through the door. Being alone is weird, I’m more disciplined but also feel I did a lot before was he was sick so my actions at home seem the same. Still go to work caring for others. I read your post and felt your grief, so I must no be a numb as I thought.
      Lillian

  35. When my son with lifelong disabilities died at 20 a woman in my disability community, also mom of a similar adult child, wrote a letter to me. She wrote it as my son saying thank you for taking special care of him all his life and advocating for him and others while loving him unconditionally. That letter was a true gift. I have now done the same when another similar death affects a caring mom or dad.

  36. When I told one of my friends I was worried about the emotion of my partner’s death making me too “blubbery” at her remembrance she said “bring it on!” It was a wonderful affirmation of her willingness to bear witness with me.

  37. My partner lost his 44 yr old daughter 3 days ago. I only met her twice and the last time was for a week. He has been divorced from the mom for many many years. He has all this pain about not being there enough, although from what I have heard he did as much as he could. He has a relationship with his daughters kids, but her x ( abusive alcoholic ) would not let him see the kids. Plus his x wife is with a man who wants to be the hero ( another alcoholic) who talks behind his back and lies. He gets along fine with the mother of their daughter but she of course has only been there watching her daughter die. I’m a counselor , nurse, and in love with this dad who is blaming himself for so much… All beyond his control. He has no $ he lost his business in 2008 . The cancer started in 2014, in fact that’s when we became friends. The mom, and son and daughter did not inform him that she then had seizures and a brain tumor that caused paralysis. They kept him out of the loop.

  38. Lost my 29 year old son to sudden cardiac arrest Sep 4th this year. I wouldn’t know what to say to someone in the same situation, and that’s what I tell people who say they don’t know what to say. Just acknowledgement and I’m sorry is enough to hear. And I understand those I come across unexpectedly in a store and they don’t acknowledge, just give me a surprised look. Usually a short how are you from both sides, fine, and go our separate ways. Those close enough know and have said things from the list. “Living forward”, always thinking about my son except when I can keep myself very busy, is extremely hard. Grief counseling is a help. Just don’t know what to do with myself “all the other time”. My husband and daughter and myself all going through our own grief in the house together. I’ve always been “the glue”, but right now just want to curl up and stay there most of the time. WE don’t even know what to say to each other.

    • Chris, I too lost my 25yr old son to sudden cardiac arrest on Sept 7th of this year. I am lost. I have 2 daughters who are wonderful and as present in this as I am & another son who has separated himself completely & is grieving alone. My husband of 32 years and I are grieving very differently, as I was there when he was pronounced and he was away with work. The horror of seeing Jacob die is with me every single second. All extended family were there until the funeral… for everyone else life has gone on. I feel stuck, alone, a mess. I just miss him so much, he was my “mama’s boy” my over achiever, my sweetheart, my clown…. my joy. It’s been 3 months of pure hell. How do you go on? I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, but I feel so very empty inside. I pray you have found some comfort.. There is absolutely NOTHING worse than losing a child. 🙁

  39. Ironically, the best comment I have ever heard comes from my nine year old niece… who simply states “I cry for Uncle Patrick because I loved him”

    Just a reminder… the simplistic outlook of a child is far more truthful and pure … than anything an adult who over analyzes trying to come up with the best one-liner to make themselves feel better and ends up saying all the wrong things !

  40. During a particularly rough time when I didn’t think I could go on, a friend said
    “please remember your record of survival to date is 100%”. That allowed me to recognize that indeed I was still going through my grief and yet it hadn’t stopped me from “living forward”. (I prefer that to “moving on”)

  41. Thanks for the amazing post,looking for more updates from you.

  42. Julia, that sounds perfect to me.

  43. I like to share the thought “Trust that someday the sun will come out again.” It acknowledges that it is dark and stormy now, but there is hope. I base it off some holocaust poetry that was uncovered in the Warsaw ghetto “I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love even when there’s no one there.”

  44. They miss hugs, hearing ILU, compliments, watch TV & eating with another human being. So if you’re comfortable give them a hug when you see them, make plans such as every other Thursday to meet & eat, or have coffee, watch a tv show, go to movie etc…

  45. NOT to say/do:
    1. “You took my dad away from me ”
    2. “Suck it up”
    3. “Get over it” I will never get over “IT” as “it” is “him” my 53y/o husband who suffered a brain aneurysm while we were kissing. I don’t want to get over him. I am who I am today because of 33 yrs with him & I don’t want to forget a day of it!
    4. Take over/take charge, be bossy, demanding, blaming or accusing the griever while the critical crisis, funeral/ planning, are happening. They probably will not be themselves, due to being in shock, PTSD, depressed, emotional rollercoaster, terrified, u don’t know what they saw & how its affected them. They’re living out the worst nightmare of their life & there’s no waking up from it. Walking around in a fog. Don’t judge! Or gossip! Or talk about “if it was me, I’d done…, can’t believe she is so distant, I’d be crying my eyes out,” you don’t know how you’ll react until its U in a critical crisis.
    5. Don’t criticize/critique the funeral plans/service. Or their appearance!

    ~~~•♧•~~~•♧•~~~•♧•~~~•♧•~~~
    OKAY to say/do
    1. Any good, funny, happy, kind memories of your lost one.
    2. I received a card on the 1yr anniv of his death. It meant the world to me as everyone else has gone on with life & have forgotten about him/me.
    3. Rekindling of old school girlfriend whose divorced. [When you’re young its hard to find a new set of single, divorced women/just friends to hang with occasionally.
    4. Ask if they’ve thought about counseling. Or if in group therapy/counseling already… ask how its going.
    5. Try to at least mark your phone calendar with 1st or more anniversary of death, bday, holidays, special days that are super difficult/depressing to get thru. Call, send card/note, bring flowers/food. Just remember at least 1st death anniversary.
    6. Just come over & do helpful things. Clean, carpool kids, mow lawn. Offer to help with ALL the paperwork. They may need to look for assistance SSI, Food stamps etc. Take & fax, copy, mail for them as follow thru of such things tend to be put off.
    7. If widow, ask if there’s house, lawn, repair work needed or come buy & take a look. Arrange a rotation group to mow or check on widow.
    8. Anyone can offer to pick them up/meet & grab a bite to eat/coffee, pay for it if possible. The griever has difficulty eating meals alone, failure to eat/stay healthy as they’ve lost drive to keep going. When u cook a meal make a to go plate for widow.
    9. If you’ve experienced this pain… you know family, friends, couples, tend to part ways, avoid griever, assist with needs. If possible plan small get togethers, cookout, pizza place, & invite just 1 or 2 others.
    10. Griever probably will the 1st yr/maybe longer will have difficulty, attending large, couple, group events, holiday, parties wedding, funerals… offer to go together, carry handkerchief, tissue, stay close by, help with mingling, socializing.
    11. We had a great friend waiting at funeral home Entrance when we arrived to make final arrangements. That was extremely thoughtful & comforting. they’d had experience with funeral planning already & offered suggestions.

    • I’m so sorry that people have said (and done) such horribly insensitive things to you. Those are some of the rudest comments I’ve truly ever heard. They sound like bitter, shallow people, intent on hurting you. You don’t deserve that. We both know that.

      Thank you for the suggestions of what would be helpful. I do hope that you have people in your life who’ve shown their concern and kindness to you in those ways, and more. And I’m sorry for your loss.

      -Kivamarie

  46. In my bereavement group, the group is in support of those that have lost a child. One of the other mother’s said to me, “Make friends with your grief, because it will always be with you”. That is so true.

  47. “i’m Here for you and not just today but forever,’
    “ You can be as miserable as you like around me for as long as you need to be’.

  48. How about this loving comment from my brother when I said I was beside my with grief and needed his help (emotional support) after my husband died: “What’s the matter, you can’t handle it after your playmate died?” Or maybe, “What did you expect? He was so much older than you.” Or, “Gee it wasnt til after you cancelled your husband’s military ceremony internment, that I realized that you were upset about his passing!” Really? These are just some of the nice things people have said to me and no, I am not a complainer or a nasty person. People just think I am strong and have not wanted to put themselves out.

  49. When my 28 yr. old nephew died from an accidental drug overdose and his asshat father (sis’s ex) refused to help us pay our expenses (even though he had insurance on the child) my cousin who didn’t even know Josh, sent us a check for $300 and also pretty much summed up our feeling about the ex. What a great feeling to know someone was in our corner. Also, a lovely lady from our church told me, that my sister was so BRAVE for listing in our obituary for him that he died from an accidental overdose and depression. That really touched me. But, generally, people are stupid

  50. Rochelle Seaton GarciaSeptember 19, 2018 at 6:04 pmReply

    I have a few that bring me comfort:
    1. Another widow told me that you don’t ever “move on”, you “live on”.
    2. I found comfort in reading somewhere that you will always be his wife, he will always be your husband. You will always have the love he shared with you.
    3. Your loved one is not just part of your past, they are part of your future in eternity.
    4. We will walk with you thru this, we are in this together.

  51. A friend often tells me how, when she’s out fell-running (alone) in the hills, she still expects to see Stuart somewhere on the trails.

  52. A neighbor wrote me a note and said, “whatever words you long to hear that will give you comfort, consider them said.”. I thought that was the most beautiful and loving thing to say and it truly touched my heart.

  53. One of the best things someone has said was, “I’m not sure what we can do beyond acknowledging one another’s sadness and knowing we share it.” ♡

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