What to Say to a Grieving Friend

Know someone going through a tough time? The four simple words to use when you don't know what to say to a grieving friend.
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Know someone going through a tough time? The four simple words to use when you don't know what to say to a grieving friend.
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What-To-Say-To-A-Grieving-Friend-sml Image Credit: Erika Raxworthy

Tell us if this sounds familiar: A friend is hurting, you want to show you care and you know what not to say (namely, “I know how you feel.”). Yet the fear of making a bad situation worse with your words gets the better of you, so you leave our support unspoken. Boy, have we been there.

However, no matter the circumstances—a lost job, failed relationship or departed loved one—one phrase cannot fail when we don't know what to say to a grieving friend.

“I’m here for you.”

Yet saying it is just the start. Actually being there is the important part. In the immediate aftermath of heartbreak, stay present. Make yourself available to lend a listening ear or provide a welcome distraction. As days and weeks pass, stay persistent. Check in frequently as grief can cause even the a diehard extroverts to self-isolate. Texts and phone calls are good, visits are better, and “Hey, I’m going to Target, I’ll pick you up on the way,” is best of all. Finally, even when the worst seems to have passed, stay patient. Grief has no timeline, and reminders such as songs, smells, and special days can bring it rushing back.

When all else fails, those four little words mean so much.

p.s.How to speak with kindness.