18 Things You Should Never Say to a Grieving Person

We all experience loss at some point in our lives, but when someone else is going through the grief of losing a loved one, it can be hard to find the right words. We’re here to give you a little help with that today by sharing these 18 things you should never say to a grieving person.

“I Know Exactly How You Feel”

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While it’s good to empathize with people who have just lost a loved one, telling them that you know exactly how they feel is likely to make them feel misunderstood and possibly more isolated. As pointed out by The Grief Recovery Method, we all process grief in different ways, so it is wrong to assume that we know exactly how someone else feels, even if we’ve also experienced loss.

“At Least They Lived a Long Life”

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Some people may have a positive response to this comment, but it’s also likely to feel like a rationalization of their loss, which is naturally an emotional experience. It may also be taken to imply that they should feel less negatively about the loss if their relative was older rather than younger.

“You Should Be Strong”

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Telling someone they “should” do or feel anything is rarely a good idea, especially when it comes to intensely emotional experiences like loss. This statement also implies that the griever should not show their vulnerable side, which is a very important part of processing a loss. As stated by the Grief & Loss Center, the griever will often react by thinking things like, “I can’t be strong. I need to cry.”

“It’s Time to Move On”

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It’s never a good idea to decide for someone else when it’s time to move on from a loss. People process grief at different speeds and in different ways, so it’s important to give them all the time and space they need to move through their feelings.

“Everything Happens for a Reason”

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While some people do believe that everything happens for a reason, even those who do aren’t always comforted by these words. No matter what your beliefs about death and the afterlife are, loss is always difficult. As such, it’s important not to say things that could make the griever feel misunderstood or dismissed.

“You’re Still Young; You Can Have More Children/Marry Again”

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This one can obviously be very hard to hear for someone who has recently experienced a loss. Lost loved ones are always special and unique to us and cannot simply be replaced to make up for the loss. Even if the individual does choose to have more children or marry again in the future, it will still take time to heal.

“They’re in a Better Place Now”

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Those who believe in a heavenly afterlife may find some comfort in these words, but if you don’t know the bereaved’s beliefs about death, you may risk saying something that conflicts with their feelings and ends up making them feel worse.

“They Wouldn’t Want You to Be Sad”

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While this comment usually comes from a well-meaning place, it can make the griever feel pressured to move on from their negative emotions more quickly than they feel ready to. It also risks making the bereaved feel guilty for feeling the way they do.

“It Was Their Time”

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Some people do believe that everyone passes at the right time for them, but even for those who hold this belief, it doesn’t make death much easier to cope with. Those who have different beliefs may also feel angry and upset about your assumption, especially if their loved one died young or suddenly.

“Be Thankful for the Time You Had”

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Like other comments on this list, this one can come across as demanding and dismissive of the griever’s feelings. It is normal and natural to feel a wide range of both negative and positive feelings after experiencing loss, so it’s important not to suggest that they should feel any one particular thing.

“They’re Not Suffering Anymore”

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While it can be tempting to find a silver lining in death, this does not always feel comforting to those who have just lost a loved one. It can feel like you’re attempting to overlook the suffering they are currently experiencing by focusing only on the positive.

“Time Heals All Wounds”

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It’s true that the feeling of loss usually becomes less painful over time. However, this well-meaning comment is not always accurate, as many of us will still feel the impact of loss for years to come, even if it does get significantly easier to deal with.

“You Have to Stay Strong for Others”

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As mentioned previously, implying that a griever has to do or feel anything never goes down well. Telling someone they must stay strong for others puts unnecessary pressure on them to bottle up their feelings and needs for the sake of those around them.

“Focus on the Good Times”

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There’s nothing wrong with encouraging a bit of positive focus in most scenarios. However, telling someone to focus on the good times after they have experienced a loss can make them feel guilty or wrong for not being able to move through their negative feelings.

“It’s Part of God’s Plan”

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This statement could be received very poorly by those who are not religious or do not believe in a singular God. Even if you know the griever is religious, it could cause them to temporarily feel confused or angry toward their faith or God.

“You’re Young, You’ll Get Over It”

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It goes without saying that this comment is not the most sensitive or reassuring. Loss is painful at any age or stage of life, and losing a close one at a young age can sometimes be even more impactful, with the effects lasting for many years.

“At Least You Have Other Children/Relatives”

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Telling someone that they have other relatives when they lose a loved one comes across as very dismissive and insensitive. Everybody has a special and unique place in our hearts, so it is wrong to suggest that anyone is replaceable in this way.

“Now You Need to Take Care of Yourself”

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It’s good to encourage self-care when someone is going through grief. However, implying that they must focus only on taking care of themselves and moving on from the loss can be harmful. People often need plenty of time to grieve and process their feelings, and they may feel rushed and misunderstood if you imply they should move on.

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