More ideas on what to say to someone who is grieving

At times we all struggle with what to say when a loved one, a friend or acquaintance has just lost someone to death. We find we often struggle with the right words to say, often times we over think what we should say and we may decide to say nothing at all. At times just being present to the person can make a huge difference or one may say, “I don’t know what to say, but I am here for you.”

There was one such man in many of our lives who seemed to know just what to say for just about every situation in life. That man was Fred Rogers or Mister Rogers as many of us growing up knew him. He had a way of looking at life and death in a practical way, Fred Rogers taught us it was okay to talk about our feelings and how to make the world we live in a better place. This isn’t so much an article about Mr. Rogers as is it about how we see ourselves and what to say to someone who has had a loss due to death.

Often, we are so fearful that we may say the wrong words that we don’t say anything at all. We all need to say something, yet we don’t say anything because we know it will initiate a response from the grieving person. So, what do you do? The answer is not as complex as one may think it is. We need to take a moment to just listen to what the person is saying and be there for them. Often grieving people just need a listening ear to hear what they have to say. An important factor is to actively listen to what they are saying. One should not share their own experiences of death and loss; it is the bereaved who needs to share.

Their loss is significant to the grieving person, don’t diminish their loss by talking about a loss of a pet or a family member. Avoid stereotypes or cliches. A grieving person does not want to hear things like “They are in a better place.”, At least they are not suffering anymore.”, or “You have a special angel in Heaven.  The reality is the better place for a person is to be here. The bereaved realizes their loved one is gone but it will take time for them to acknowledge the loss.  It is more comforting to a grieving person to say some of the following; “Your mother/father was a wonderful person.”, My condolences or I am sorry for your loss”.

There are times when no words are necessary being present and just sitting near the bereaved can be comforting. There can be a calming in silence, a time of just being, observing the non-verbal ques. Much can be learned from just sitting quietly and being with the one who is grieving.


“All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors—in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.” – Mr. Rogers

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