What Not To Say To Someone Who's Grieving


This month is Mental Health Awareness month so each day I’m doing, or posting, something to bring awareness to the many faces of Mental Health issues. Grief can, and usually is, a major hit to a person’s mental health. Especially because there are so many stages of it.

My Grief

Today marks two years since my Grandmother’s death and currently, at this moment I’m in the “Acceptance” stage. Every day there’s a reminder that she isn’t here. I no longer get the urge to call her about something I know we’d talk about, I don’t spend as much time looking at her pictures or reading her texts and emails, and I don’t talk about her as often as I used to. This isn’t a bad thing and I’m definitely not forgetting her but in my mind I’ve finally accepted that she is never coming back and it just hurts less to not think about it. There are days when I’m minding my business, going throughout my day happy and fine and something makes me think “damn, I really have to live the rest of my life without my Grandmother” and then I’m back in the same place mentally that I was when she died.

What Not To Say

Losing someone close is never an easy thing to deal with, and naturally, we want to say things we feel will bring comfort to someone who is grieving. Before I dealt with grief myself, I was guilty of saying some of the cliche statements that we think we are supposed to say in that moment. Often times, these statements don’t make the person feel any better.If you have yet to experience a tremendous loss and grief, here are things that shouldn’t be said to a grieving person:

  1. “It gets better/easier with time.” For some, it simply doesn’t. I actually hate hearing this because, for me, it isn’t true. Yes, coping gets a little better. I don’t instantly cry at thoughts of her anymore. But, the grief, it most certainly hasn’t.

  2. “You’ve got to move on, it’s been _ years." Though said with good intentions, this statement is equivalent to a slap in the face and should just be avoided. It can bring about feelings of guilt and shame at still grieving years after a loss.

  3. “Are you okay?” I had to learn this too, it’s an instinct to say. The answer is “No, I’m not okay. I will one day, but some days I feel like I never will be.” Instead maybe ask “how are you feeling/coping today” if you are truly concerned about their mental state. And be prepared to actually listen.

  4. “They’re in a better place.” Simple, not everyone believes what you believe and for some, this offers no solace at all.

  5. “I know how you feel..” No two people grieve the same. Offer your condolences but don’t compare. You can even offer advice on things you do to cope, but don’t express that you feel/felt what they are feeling.

  6. “Be strong.” We are humans with emotions and not every moment is a moment where strength has to be used. It’s okay not to be okay and to take time to sit in how you’re feeling and what happened.

It’s human nature to want to say something to someone you care about who has just experienced a major loss. A simple line such as “I don’t know what to say to comfort you right now, but I care and I’m here.” is much better than possibly making someone feel worse, or just plain annoying them lol

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