When someone we love loses someone we obviously want to be there for them. It’s a trying and emotional time, but we often struggle with what to say and do. Sometimes we’re so fearful of saying or doing the wrong thing that we’re fearful of even mentioning the loss. Unfortunately, that’s not a good strategy either. This guide will break down the right things to do and say after someone you love loses someone.
Is It Better Not to Address a Loss If I’m Not Sure What to Say?
No! By failing to address a loss or even mention it, you risk making the person feel as if the loss is not of any significance to you. Many people worry that they are stirring up unwanted emotions or that their loved one doesn’t want to talk about it, but if someone doesn’t want to talk about it, they will tell you. Be sure to give them an out by saying something like, “I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I’m here if you’d like to talk about it.” If they want to talk, they will. If they don’t, they won’t. The important thing here is to make sure that you acknowledge the loss and let them know that you are there to talk about it if they choose to do so.
Is There a Wrong Thing to Say After a Loved One Loses Someone?
Yes, there are many wrong things to say after a loved one loses someone. Luckily, this guide is here to provide examples to help you avoid saying the wrong thing. First and foremost, be sure to respect that everyone’s grieving process is different. You should never compare your grief to theirs or insinuate that you know how they are feeling. Everyone grieves differently, which means that just because you came to terms with the loss of your mother in two months, it doesn’t mean they will experience the same.
You should also avoid cliché statements like, “God gained another angel” or “At least they lived a long life.” Statements like these may seem supportive and encouraging, but they can come across wrong. In addition to those, you should never try to justify the loss with a statement like, “They really brought this on themselves.” You might think it’s helping rationalize the loss, but statements like this can be harmful to your loved one.
What Should I Say to Someone After a Loss?
When a loved one loses someone close to them, the most important thing is to acknowledge their loss. You should also keep it simple and just say something like, “I am so sorry for your loss” or “There are no words to express how sorry I am for your loss.” You can also mention something specific about the person, like that they were a ray of hope or had a laugh that would light up a room. Also, offer to be a sounding board if they feel like talking. Statements like this make someone feel loved and supported and can provide a lot of comfort during a trying time.
Do I Need to Send Sympathy Flowers?
No, you don’t have to send sympathy flowers. That’s one route that people go, but it is by no means required. In fact, your loved one is more likely to remember all of the late nights that you answered your phone when they called to cry and vent than they will that you sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers to the house after their husband passed away. They are also more likely to remember the few mornings that you stopped in to check in on them with to-go coffee from their favorite café than they will that you sent an arrangement to the funeral home. Flowers are appreciated, but they are by no means necessary.
What If I’m Not Good With Words?
The saying actions speak louder than words also applies to this. If you aren’t good with words and cannot pull your thoughts together to pen a touching sympathy note, that’s okay. There are many other ways to offer comfort and support during a trying time such as this.
You can reach out and offer support. This support comes in many different methods. You can offer to help around the house with chores. Showing up on a Saturday morning to mow the lawn will be every bit as much appreciated as a thoughtful condolence letter. Another thing you can do is help them with the funeral arrangements. This is a stressful task that people take on after losing a loved one and while you might not be good with expressing sympathy words, surely you can contact funeral homes and deal with the florist for your loved one.
Another way to show someone that you care is to simply send a sympathy gift. Many gifts come with a card attached that only needs to be addressed. That means you don’t’ have to become Shakespeare overnight to pen the perfect note. All you have to do is purchase the gift and have it sent. It’s simple and easy and still shows someone that you are thinking of them.
Just remember that the most important thing about helping someone through the grieving process is being there for them. Comfort and support are essential during this time and by lending a helping hand, comforting words or a shoulder to cry on, you are doing more than you know.