Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Death and what to say and what not to say

Posted by on May. 8, 2009 at 3:22 PM
  • 3 Replies

When my mom passed away almost 2 years ago, I was in a daze almost but remember some people saying "she's in a better place" or "I know how you feel". Those comments were never comforting to me, i felt  a better place would be here with us and now you have no idea how i feel, she was my mom lnot yours. Recently we touched breifly in one of my classes about what is right and what's  not appropriate to say to someone greiving. I was just doing some research and found this from the American Cancer Society, American Hospice Poundation, and thought i'd share.

What to say to someone who has lost a loved one

It is common to feel awkward when trying to comfort someone who is grieving. Many people do not know what to say or do. The following are suggestions to use as a guide.

  • Acknowledge the situation. Example: "I heard that your_____ died." Use the word "died" That will show that you are more open to talk about how the person really feels.
  • Express your concern. Example: "I'm sorry to hear that this happened to you."
  • Be genuine in your communication and don't hide your feelings. Example: "I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care."
  • Offer your support. Example: "Tell me what I can do for you."
  • Ask how he or she feels, and don't assume you know how the bereaved person feels on any given day.

Source: American Cancer Society

Helping a grieving person tip 1: Listen with compassion

Almost everyone worries about what to say to people who are grieving. But knowing how to listen is much more important. Oftentimes, well-meaning people avoid talking about the death or mentioning the deceased person. However, the bereaved need to feel that their loss is acknowledged, it’s not too terrible to talk about, and their loved one won’t be forgotten. 

While you should never try to force someone to open up, it’s important to let the bereaved know they have permission to talk about the loss. Talk candidly about the person who died and don’t steer away from the subject if the deceased’s name comes up. When it seems appropriate, ask sensitive questions – without being nosy – that invite the grieving person to openly express his or her feelings. Try simply asking, “Do you feel like talking?”

  • Accept and acknowledge all feelings. Let the grieving person know that it’s okay to cry in front of you, to get angry, or to break down. Don’t try to reason with them over how they should or shouldn’t feel. The bereaved should feel free to express their feelings, without fear of judgment, argument, or criticism.

  • Be willing to sit in silence. Don’t press if the grieving person doesn’t feel like talking. You can offer comfort and support with your silent presence. If you can’t think of something to say, just offer eye contact, a squeeze of the hand, or a reassuring hug.

  • Let the bereaved talk about how their loved one died. People who are grieving may need to tell the story over and over again, sometimes in minute detail. Be patient. Repeating the story is a way of processing and accepting the death. With each retelling, the pain lessens.

  • Offer comfort and reassurance without minimizing the loss. Tell the bereaved that what they’re feeling is okay. If you’ve gone through a similar loss, share your own experience if you think it would help. However, don’t give unsolicited advice, claim to “know” what the person is feeling, or compare your grief to theirs.

Comments to avoid when comforting the bereaved

  • "I know how you feel." One can never know how another may feel. You could, instead, ask your friend to tell you how he or she feels.
  • "It's part of God's plan." This phrase can make people angry and they often respond with, "What plan? Nobody told me about any plan."
  • "Look at what you have to be thankful for." They know they have things to be thankful for, but right now they are not important.
  • "He's in a better place now." The bereaved may or may not believe this. Keep your beliefs to yourself unless asked.
  • "This is behind you now; it's time to get on with your life." Sometimes the bereaved are resistant to getting on with because they feel this means "forgetting" their loved one. In addition, moving on is easier said than done. Grief has a mind of its own and works at its own pace.
  • Statements that begin with "You should" or "You will." These statements are too directive. Instead you could begin your comments with: "Have you thought about. . ." or "You might. . ."

Source: American Hospice Foundation

by on May. 8, 2009 at 3:22 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-3):
by on May. 8, 2009 at 3:36 PM

My grandma who i adored and loved more then anything just passed away on the 27th of April. and i know nothing anyone said made me feel any better.

one thing that actually did make me feel better was i had a dream the night she died, she came to me and hugged me and said "i'm alright"

thats all she said. i said to my cousin "i dont know why she picked me to come to" and he simply said "because she knows everyone else knows she's alright, she knew you NEEDED to hear it for yourself"

That made me feel a little better.  

by on May. 8, 2009 at 4:42 PM

My brother died 2 years ago, there was nothing anyone could say to make

me feel better but I hated the... "hes in a better place". The best thing anyone

did for me was take my kids shopping for wake appropriate clothes and shoes

by on May. 8, 2009 at 4:44 PM

 When I lost my son I got the "He's in a better place" comments all the time. I prefer im sorry for your loss.

I'm a Vaccine Giving, Disposable Diaper Using, part time Co Sleeping, Formula Feeding, baby wearing, Non CIO, married mommy to a beautiful baby girl!!

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)