5 Dos & Don’ts for Talking with Someone Who is Grieving

We naturally want to help others as they experience grief, but sometimes it is difficult to know what to do or say. Here are 5 things you should (or shouldn’t) do when talking with someone who is grieving.

  1. Do listen.

Grieving people need someone to hear their challenges without judgment. When they express sadness, regret, or other emotions, don’t try to “fix it.” Just let them talk out their thoughts.

  1. Don’t be afraid of tears.

Let the person have a cry, staying silent and compassionate, and give them the opportunity to compose themselves. Don’t give in to the urge to change the subject, unless they do. If the tears continue for several moments, offer to pray with the person.

  1. Do let comments go.

Grieving people may say things they feel in the moment, but may or may not truly mean. Refrain from voicing your disagreement with their philosophy or worldview.

  1. Don’t make assumptions.

Never say things like: “It’s time to move on,” “He’s in a better place,” “At least she’s not suffering,” “Time heals all,” “You’ll get over it,” or “Everything happens for a reason” – even if you believe these things. The grieving person is not in the place to hear it. If they say any of these things and you agree, that’s okay. If they say any of things and you disagree, see above under “Let comments go.” It’s also important to refrain from relating what they might be going through to what others might be going through during the pandemic.

  1. Do be authentic.

Saying “I don’t know what to say” is perfectly fine. If your care and concern is genuine, the grieving person will sense that. As time passes, they may not remember everything you discussed, but they will know that you cared.

For more information on the grief journey and relating to people who are grieving, contact Patty Davidson, Health & Wellness Ministry Coordinator, at (412) 367-8222 or patricia.davidson@lutheranseniorlife.org.