Grief is the ultimate leveler and can bring both a strong and sensitive person to their knees.
Whether someone is grieving the death of a loved one, a relationship, or a dream – the grief process is messy and painful.
If you have a friend who is grieving you might think you are being helpful in offering “advice” – but here are four things you should never say.
“I Know How You Feel”
You might think you are offering support by telling them you “know” how they feel – but the truth is, you don’t.
Each tragedy and loss we experience in life effects each of us differently.
While there are certainly similarities in tragedies – the only person who really knows how they feel is that person – and God.
So instead – try saying something like, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but please let me know if you ever want to talk about it.”
This affirms that you recognize their pain – but doesn’t put pressure on them to talk about it if/until they are ready.
“Think About The Positive”
While it’s good to count our blessings, even in the storm – it is not up to us to tell another person that.
If a person loses a child – telling them things like “well at least you still have two more” is not helpful!
Likewise, if a person loses their Christian parent, saying “Now they are in heaven with Jesus” might seem like you’re reassuring them – but it doesn’t help the person who is experiencing the pain of not having their loved one here with them.
Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing – and just to let them talk.
Grief is not a linear process – and people who are grieving can go from denial, to anger, to depression, and right back to denial again – all within the same week.
Your role as their friend is to be there for them – not to try and force them to be “positive” when they’re hurting.
“You’re Strong, You’ll Get Over It”
While the grieving person likely will adjust to their “new normal” at some point, a person who experiences a painful loss really never “gets over it.”
They adjust, because they have to.
And many people even struggle to do that.
You might think you’re encouraging and affirming the “strength” of your friend by telling them how “strong” they are…
… but they don’t want to be “strong” – they want what they lost back.
Instead of telling them they’ll “get over it” – let your friend know you love them – and you are praying for them regularly.
Prayer is powerful – and it may touch your friend’s heart to know that you are interceding on their behalf and praying for them.
“You Look Tired”
Yes, people actually say this!
Don’t you think your friend already knows they have bags under their eyes from not sleeping well at night?
Or that their eyes are dreary from crying?
Your friend knows they “look tired” – trust me – so they don’t need you to tell them that.
Instead, tell them simply you love them, and haven’t forgotten them.
Or do something practical like bring them a hot meal and come over to pray with them.
You don’t need to “solve” their grief – you just need to be their friend.
If you’ve never experienced loss in your life – you will one day. None of us here on earth are immune to grief and pain.
But the good news is, as believers, we can walk alongside one another and help carry each other’s burdens – knowing we are all in this life together.
And together, we can look forward to the day when all who place their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior will be reunited again for eternity with no more pain or suffering.
What is helpful to you when you are grieving?
Are there certain things people have said to you when you were grieving that upset you? If so, what did they say?
You can post your answers to our Facebook page and join in the conversation with other believers from all around the world.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17
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