The Grieving Stage – What Not To Say!

photo above courtesy of bing/grief

This topic was submitted by Tracy C – Justsuminspiration FB follower

When it comes to grief or consoling someone facing a tragedy, it can be hard to come up with the right thing to say that fits that individuals situation during the time. But, if I can be honest with you, there really is no right answer or right words, however; there are plenty of wrong words and/or statements that you can say that’ll make that grief period confusing as well as annoying to the griever.

Related Post: How to Get Through Loss During the Holidays

It’s common to want to make people feel better about a loss – it’s almost like our instincts quickly jump to the most “helpful” and “mesmerizing” words that will console the individual quicker. And while you may mean well, as we all do, the griever may view those statements completely differently.

I’m sure you’ve heard such sayings as:

photo source/charlottegomez/buzzfeed/What You Say To Someone Who’s Grieving vs. What They Hear

Really?, I mean – did you know them like that? It’s not safe to say those words because you don’t know what type of relationship that person had with God or if they even believed in him. We can’t assume that we automatically know a person’s religious preference and while this statement may seem like a “traditional” go to. It can be offensive for the griever whom may be battling with religious issues and etc. themselves. Now, if you had a personal relationship with the family and the deceased then this statement may be okay, just keep in mind – it may not resonate well with everyone.

Anddddd, I know you’ve heard this:

photo source/charlottegomez/buzzfeed/What You Say To Someone Who’s Grieving vs. What They Hear

Uh-Okay! Yes, they do need something…first, for you not to say that and not follow through and second they just experienced a loss, so of course they need you! I honestly think this is my worst statement to hear because, it’s always easy for people to throw out the sentence “if you need me” but what they’re really saying is “Look, I really don’t know what else to say so I hope and pray you really don’t need me because I really don’t know what to do if you said YES!” When a person is in grief, they’re thinking about their loved one or the job they just lost that maybe they felt like they were going to be on until retirement, now their finances are in question. So yes, they do need you – but don’t tell them to let you know, because nine times out of 10, if they’re like me – they won’t say anything to you. Just spring into action and do something special for them – take them food, offer to go out or just go over and listen to them vent or cry. Sometimes, that’s all people really need.

Another kicker is this one:

photo source/charlottegomez/buzzfeed/What You Say To Someone Who’s Grieving vs. What They Hear

Why would you ask them that? You already know how they’re doing – they’re miserable and bringing it up, may have just opened back up the wound that their still trying to process. The best thing to do in this situation is to not bring up what happened. When they’re ready to talk about it, they will at their own time on their own terms. It might sound a little picky but we never know where a person may be in their mental processes nor the affect it will have on the individual by bringing it up. Being there for them is good enough and I’m sure there are many other things you can bring up that will bring them cheer and not despair.

A couple of other no no’s are:


How did he/she die?

photo source/bing/questions

That’s a HUGE, NO NO! I have to say it irked me a little when I was asked that question when my mom passed in 2016. Like, can we get over the shock of her passing before you attempt to ask how she died? I know, I know….you may think that this is a fair common question, but not when the family or individual is trying to process the loss themselves; their loved one may have been sick for quite a while but asking can be touchy as that person may not be ready to reveal such personal information. Again, let the individual tell you all about that when they’ve gotten past the funeral; eventually you’ll find out what truly happened but it’s definitely not a dinner table discussion that immediately deserves an answer – Let them grieve now; the answers will come later.

And last, but certainly not least:


I Know what you’re Going through

how you feel

You really don’t know what the person is going through or how they actually feel unless you’ve suffered a traumatic loss yourself. You can’t say, I know what you’re going through if you’ve never lost your mother, father, child, pet or etc. So please don’t say that, the best thing to say is “I don’t know what you’re going through and can’t imagine how you must feel.” That may not be what the griever wants to hear, because in actuality we all want to talk to someone whose had our same experiences, especially when it comes to death, but at least they’ll know you’re being honest and will respect you for not saying something that you have no idea about personally.

Related Post: The Hospital Window

These were just a couple of ones that I’ve heard or have been told – What grief statements have you heard that made you go….hmmmm…. – or what do you or have you said or done to someone whom was grieving. This doesn’t have to just stay with “death” but any loss.  Share them below in the comments!

I want to give a Special Shout Out to shoutTracy C. for this topic! I really appreciate you, thanks for following, reading, commenting and just being AWESOME! â¤ï¸


If you would like to see what next week’s topic will be, tune in next Tuesday between the hours of 2:30pm and 3:00pm on the Justsuminspiration FB page – I may just go live or post a video of me pulling the next topic – just like I did this one!

See ya in the next Post!!-1

Roshonda N. Blackmon – Creator of A Blog, A Magazine. It’s JustsumInspiration, Author, Speaker & Encourager


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7 thoughts on “The Grieving Stage – What Not To Say!

  1. Hi, great post with some very important “no-no’s” many people say in their helplessness.

    I do disagree though with something, it is different for every person. People grieve differently. To me it is okay when someone asks me how my brother died. I don’t have an answer to that, as the police was too unconcerned or lazy as soon as they concluded that it wasn’t fowl play or suicide. But what did upset me further was when a friend “assumed” he killed himself, where the police concluded that this wasn’t the case. Another friend asked a though question, and I was able to take it well, because it was a question. She asked “do you think he was murdered” to which I simply could explain that the police ruled that out.

    Conclusion are a “no-no”, honest questions are okay.

    My greater problem is SILENCE. When people just don’t speak to me because they are too scared to say the wrong thing. I now explain to people more WHAT to say instead of what not to say, because if they only hear the negative, on what not to do, they become or remain insecure. So, I’d like to give them the positives after the negatives. And again, mose of what you listed above is a typical mistake people make. Other things it really is individual, like I don’t have a problem when people ask questions, it means they are INTERESTED in my brother, in my loss. They inquire. It’s the silence I struggle with.

    Thanks for your important post.


    1. Hi, Late Night Girl! Thanks so much for reading and for your feedback, I appreciate that! – Yes, you’re right – While I listed common mistakes – it is an individual thing when it comes to people. As you stated, you were okay with the questions when it came to your brother, however; someone else may have taken offense to it. I like what you said “Conclusions are No, No’s and Honest questions are okay” and Yes, I guess people silence themselves because they don’t know what to say or maybe haven’t experienced such a loss and really don’t know how to comfort someone during one. In which is why I wanted to make the point that actions speak louder than words. I may not know what to say, but I want to show my support – even if it means sitting there and listening. Again, I appreciate your feedback and your insights on the matter – I really liked your approach to this subject. xoxo


      1. Hi Roshonda,
        thank you for your thoughts. Yes, actions and just listen is really the best. People don’t often understand that. They really try to help and are clumsy, trying to say “helpful” things out of nervousness. Because of the traumatic way and all the stuff around my brother’s death, especially my friends were extremely insecure, and to my further shock, the only way for them to deal with it was to withdraw from me! Some said really stupid things as well, but the worst for me was that in their insecurity they just left me alone, like bleeding in my soul alone.

        I would have wished for people to just say stupid things, or to have a friend next door on my couch just snoring!! Anything! Anything, but being left alone in the darkest, traumatic time.

        I want tot try to give good advise as well as the “no-no’s”. Because if people only hear about what NOT to say/do without having solutions on what would help, they only withdraw further in their insecurity. And I don’t blame them.

        It’s a really tough call, and unfortunately only when we go through it will we understand better. I am sure before I had significant loss, I must have been insensitive as well.


      2. Yessss, again you make a valid point. No one, I mean no one wants to be left alone in their darkest times – but for me, I view those dark times differently; that’s when we get to see “Whose really on our team and whose not” During those times I found out out who the people I valued so much, how they valued me and sad to say, the value or pedestal I had them on was not the first place pedestal they had me on. I take those times as a learning experience, not that I treat them bad or anything like that, I just know how to conduct myself with them moving forward. You’re right – until my mother passed away in 16, those same insensitive moments I talk about, were the things I said to others.


  2. This is such an important post! It can be so hard to know what to say to someone who is grieving. I always feel like I don’t know what to say and I am always mindful not to say anything that can seem insensitive. I usually stick with, “I am here if you need to talk.” I am glad you wrote this!! Very good tips and a reminder to be always be mindful before we speak. What we think may be comforting may not necessarily be so.


    1. Hey Gurly!! I know right? I have to be honest, before my mom passed I would say some of the things I listed, it wasn’t until after she passed that I was like, really??? I think it allowed me to see things differently in a way that I wouldn’t have seen before and you’re right, the things we think are “comforting” could actually be “disturbing” to the griever. I appreciate you so much for reading and commenting! ❤️❤️


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