What is the first thing you should say to someone who has suffered the loss of a loved one?
Simply saying you are sorry and acknowledging their loss can provide a tremendous amount of comfort and support. Use the name of the person who passed away and, if you knew the person, share a story or memory like, “I remember when we used to walk our dogs together.” Acknowledge they will be missed.
Things to avoid saying include, “he is in a better place,” or “be strong,” and especially “don’t cry.”
If they cry, let them cry. Just be with them and let the tears come. Be present and listen. It is often the silent moments between two people that are most powerful in the grieving process.
Offer to help out. Simply saying, “Call me if you need anything,” is not as helpful – the person is not likely to call you. Instead, suggest a time that you can visit and help with the cooking, cleaning, carrying in firewood or any other chores that need to be done.
It is also important to remember there are many types of loss. Divorce, loss of a job, miscarriage, loss of a beloved pet, loss of a home – all types of loss can lead to grief. Your support in times of crisis, tragedy or loss will help your loved one cope with their grief.
It is never too late to acknowledge someone’s grief. Even if you have known about their loss for a long time, but have not had the strength to reach out, it is not too late to call or visit. Your gesture will not only comfort your friend or loved one, but will help you feel better as well.