How to not be awkward in Grief! What to say and what not to say.

How to not be awkward in Grief! What to say and what not to say.

One of the only sure things in life is death, so why are we so awkward at navigating it? Often saying the wrong thing or repeating empty phrases that we've heard others say when supporting someone experiencing grief?

I asked people what phrases were said to them when they were navigating grief that they didn't find helpful. Then we can look at what could be said or done instead.

What not to say - "They're in a better place" - Journalingmypregnancy

What to SAY instead - "I'm so sorry for your loss, I can't imagine what you're going through. I'll always have a cup of tea with your name on"

What to DO - Visit or drop off essentials that they'll need but won't want to face the shops for; toothpaste, deodorant, some ready meals or tea and biscuits.

Especially if they're going to have people coming and going frequently between the passing and funeral.





What not to say - "You'll get over it" - Mama.tiny

What to SAY instead - "I know the world probably feels a bit confusing right now, I've read up on some of the stages of grief and I've got some information to support you when you're ready and I'll keep messaging and popping in until you tell me to stop".

What to DO - Depending on who the person has lost and how they are coping look at purchasing something (if you can afford it) to help them navigate through grief and help them understand what is to come. The stages of grief are not linear and people grieving can sometimes feel themselves they should be able to be ok but in reality navigating a new normal is hard and triggers and emotions can be overwhelming. The Grief Guide we have created is a 6 month navigation journal to support someone through grief and loss with so much support and is recommended by therapists.

What not to say - "If there's anything I can do let me know"

I've never heard anyone making that call

What to SAY instead - "I know you'll have lots of people contacting you and it may feel overwhelming. I'm going to pop round after work on a Friday and I can stay for a cup of tea or I can stay for dinner, we can play it by ear and theres no pressure but I want you to know that I'm here for you. 

What to DO - Pop in and keep in touch. Your life may not be directly affected and you may not be able to contribute a lot of time but when the world goes back to normal having someone to make sure you're ok means the world.




What not to say - "Anything starting with 'at least" - Jennifer

What to SAY instead - "I'm so sorry for your loss, there are no words I can say that will take away any of the pain or hurt that you are feeling but I want to help in any way I can. If you can think of anything I can do to help then please let me know and I'll do it in a heartbeat". 

What to DO - Depending how you know the person, family, a friend group or a work colleague, you can create a plan for how best to support this person and not overwhelm them. Buying them helpful items like ready meals or food vouchers rather than a bunch of flowers can create a helpful gift they appreciate. 


What not to say - 

"Everything happens for a reason" - Bibby_Penny

"It gets easier"

"Time is a healer"

"It's all in god's plan" - Geekymam

"They're in a better place, they wouldn't want you to be sad"

These phrases are ones that have been learnt and repeated over years of grief and loss and never in the history of grieving have they ever made anyone feel any better EVEN though they may have been said with the best of intentions. 

I equal it to if you really hurt yourself, broke your leg and your leg is agony and you can't think and instead of helping you someone says "Time is a healer". You know with time the pain may not feel the same but it doesn't stop it hurting in that moment.


"You'll feel better in the morning when it's sunk in" Lozzlowe

"Come on now it's been a while" - Solo Mummy Donor concieved

"Are you going to try again soon" 

"Your husband didn't really want a baby so I'm sure he's relieved"

"It's ok, you can have another baby" Jess Amy

"At least you already have children"

"You weren't pregnant for long, you'll get over it"

There's no excuse for these ones, they don't sound like good intentions and if you're saying thing's like this to people after they've experienced grief and loss then you need to give your head a wobble because that's bonkers!!

My final piece of advice, the biggest mistake you need to avoid is

Not mentioning them and acting like they never existed

You're not going to cause more harm or upset by mentioning the person that someone loved and lost, they know they've gone they know they're not here anymore and often people are desperate to talk about the person they love and miss.

So if you're feeling awkward and don't know what to say why not try

"I am truly so sorry I don't know what to say in a situation like this, I have some great memories of X, would you like me to share them with you"? That way you're giving them the opportunity to feel seen and a chance to hear stories they may not have heard previously. 



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