20 Things You Should Never Say to a Grieving Person

Grief is one of the worst things you can ever experience, so when someone you know is grieving, you’ll do anything to support them. However, you should be careful of what you say, as even if you mean well, you might upset them more by saying the following 20 things.

Time Heals

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Grief indeed becomes less debilitating with time, but it isn’t helpful to point this out when somebody is still in the throes of fresh grief. They won’t be able to picture a future where they’ve healed from their grief, so let them weather the storm first.

They’re in a Better Place

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Regardless of your beliefs regarding the afterlife, it’s inappropriate to tell someone their deceased partner, relative, or friend is ‘in a better place.’ It implies there’s a silver lining in a tragic loss, and could be offensive if this thought does not align with their religious beliefs.

You’ll Get Over It

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While grief does eventually become manageable, it’s dismissive and insensitive to try to speed up someone’s grieving process and tell them they’ll get over the immense pain they’re feeling. Psychology Today warns that telling anyone to ‘get over’ their suffering could make them suppress their feelings and, subsequently, suffer more.

You Should Get Out More

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Going outside to exercise and relax your mental state is recommended when you’re grieving, but nobody will appreciate being told this when grieving. They will get out more when they’re ready, and pressuring them might overwhelm them and make them feel unfairly scrutinized.

Everything Happens For a Reason

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There is a time and place for philosophizing over the workings of the universe, but a conversation with a grieving person is not it. Death is not a test, nor is it something we should happily accept because ‘it’s a part of life.’ By implying otherwise, you’ll unnecessarily upset the grieving person.

You’ll Find Someone Else

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When somebody loses their partner, they’ve lost the love of their life, so it’s inappropriate to talk about them finding someone else. Many people struggle to date after losing a partner, so implying that moving on is an easy thing to do is completely thoughtless.

At Least They Didn’t Die Young

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Death is less shocking when the person is older, but that doesn’t mean relatives should ‘look on the bright side’ that they weren’t young. What’s Your Grief emphasizes that underplaying the death of an elderly person is insensitive because they were a long-standing presence in their loved ones’ lives, connecting multiple generations.

Tell Me What I Can Do

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While this well-intentioned statement sounds inoffensive, it’s a bit thoughtless. A grieving person is overwhelmed by massive emotions and likely trying to manage the deceased person’s affairs. Asking them to tell you how to help gives them another task to add to their mental list. Always take the initiative yourself.

I Know How You Feel

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It’s good to show grieving people they aren’t alone, but sharing relatable stories probably won’t make them feel better. The grief of their own loss is burdensome enough; don’t pile more tragedies on top. Avoiding any ‘I’ statements is a good idea because another person’s grief is about their feelings.

We All Die Eventually

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It’s a fact of life that we all die eventually, but that isn’t a comforting thing to hear when you’ve just lost somebody you deeply loved. When emotions run high, nobody likes somebody who tries to brighten the mood with unrequested facts that draw attention to their pain.

It Was For the Best

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When somebody is terminally ill, death is an end to their suffering. However, you should never say this to grieving relatives because, though they’re likely glad their loved one is no longer in pain, they’ll still want them back. Remember, terminal illness is a long, heartbreaking journey, and everyone involved will be utterly exhausted.

Stay Positive

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It’s easy to tell someone to ‘stay positive’ when you aren’t in their position, but Forbes warns of the dangers of this kind of ‘toxic positivity’, which encourages people to suppress their negative emotions. When someone is grieving, offer to listen, and don’t try to put a positive spin on their pain.

It’s Not the End of the World

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The world doesn’t stop turning no matter who dies, but when you’re grieving, it certainly feels like it does. Losing somebody changes the world as you know it, so it’s cruel to dismiss somebody’s grief by saying things like, “It’s not the end of the world!”

Try to Be Strong

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Trying to be strong all the time is one of the pitfalls of human nature. However, ignoring grief won’t make it go away, and it’s okay to feel weak and defeated in the moment. Telling someone to be strong insinuates that they’re weak for being upset and should rush to heal emotionally.

At Least They Had a Good Life

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No matter how full or happy someone’s life was, it’s still sad when they pass away. Relatives left behind will try to cling onto memories to stay close to the person they’ve lost, so don’t downplay their grief by implying they should be more grateful. Let them open up when they’re ready.

Keep Busy

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Keeping yourself busy is a good way to avoid being preoccupied with grief, but it’s a decision the grieving person must make. Telling someone to keep busy is inappropriate because it sounds like you’re telling them they’re grieving incorrectly. Instead, let them know you’re there if they ever need someone.

Look to the Future

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When the present is difficult, it’s normal to encourage people to look to the future. However, psychotherapist Megan Devine cautions that this is bad advice because grieving people have lost the future they were anticipating due to the all-consuming absence left after loss. Don’t hurry them ahead; let them grieve in the moment.

It Was Their Time

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Nobody knows when they’re going to die, so it’s callous to dismiss a person’s death as being ‘their time.’ Even if their death was anticipated, relatives still have the right to grieve and wish things were different. Matter-of-fact statements about the nature of death aren’t comforting, so don’t share them.

They’d Want You To Be Happy

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It’s probably true that the deceased person would want their loved ones to be happy, but that isn’t something you should tell them. Grieving people struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and using their deceased relative to impart words of wisdom won’t go down well.

Life Goes On

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Finally, never tell a grieving person that ‘life goes on.’ It does, but when you’ve just lost someone you loved, it’s impossible to comprehend. Supporting people through their grief will mean a lot to them. When life does start moving on, they’ll remember your kindness and sensitivity.

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