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What Not To Say To A Grieving Person

We always say that it’s better to say the wrong thing than to say nothing at all. And... that’s true, but there are at least a few things you should try not to say to people in grief.

“At least…” 

Look, if there’s a bright side to someone you love dying, that’s a bright side you find on your own, not because someone spots it for you before you’ve even had a chance to grieve. There is no form of compassionate communication that starts with “at least.”


See above.

“Everything happens for a reason.”


“Someday you’ll move on.”

Nope! Not true. We’re on a mission to strike those words from our grief vocabulary. We don’t move on from the people we love, or the lives they lived. We move forward, and we take their memories with us. One small word makes a huge difference to a person in pain.

Okay, so... what can you say? What should you say? What if you don’t know what to say? And you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing?

Start there.

“I don’t know what to say. I’m so sorry this happened.”

There are no right words that can fix the unfixable. There are no words that will take away this pain. 

Shift your goal from trying to take away the pain to simply recognizing the pain. 

Easier, right?

Our Grief Supporter Guide is launching soon! It's designed to help anyone struggling with how to support a grieving person and includes two robust audio lessons by Dr. Anna Roth and Nora McInerny plus a downloadable workbook. Sign up here to receive an email alert once the course is live!