A couple of weeks ago, I posted on five things you shouldn’t say to people going through the initial and even enduring stages of grief.
Someone wisely commented with a request: then what should you say?
So here goes:
1. The name. We sometimes worry that hearing or speaking the name of the one who has died will be too painful for the survivor. Wrong. Most people in grief long to speak the name of their loved one, and they long to hear it spoken to them.
2. Tell me about . . . . The majority of people who have recently lost a family member want to talk about that person who has died. They want to talk about the funny things the person said or did, the habits they had, the legacy they leave. Give them the space and permission to do so. “Tell me about . . . .” “What was she like?” “What did he do as a child?”
3. You’re not alone . . . Nothing you can say will bring the loved one back. Your words can quietly underscore the truth your presence conveys: those in grief are surrounded by people who love them and will walk with them.
4. I’m coming over . . . Again, don’t ask what you can do. As Nike says, just do it.
5. I love you . . . Most of us can’t hear those words too often. How much more in our time of sadness?