If you are reading this, you probably don't know what to say to someone who has just experienced the worst possible tragedy in life – the death of a loved one.
When my son died, people didn't know what to say or do. So, based on my experience, here are some practical "Do's and Don'ts" – Hope this helps.
Here is what you should do.
Think about it this way – what would you do if your friend was sick?
Sit with them Remember it's okay to just listen.
Say their loved one's name Their loved one is, and always will be, a part of their life.
Take them out for breakfast This gives them a reason to get out of bed – and – they actually eat breakfast.
Send flowers It's even more thoughtful to wait a couple weeks after the funeral.
Send flowers... again This will make them smile. The house is so sad and empty when the funeral flowers die.
Ask for a recipe they like and make it Make something that's normal for them. Your favorite recipe might not be theirs.
Bring them their favorite coffee ...and then sit with them!
Give a gift card for a massage What better way to tell them to take care?
Give a gift card for their favorite restaurant It's nice to get out of the house and take a "break" from their grief.
Send an UberEats or Kroger gift card Making food is so hard. It's also hard to spend money on groceries when you've just spent so much on a funeral.
Take a break from posting on social It only takes one second to destroy a grieving person's week if they're scrolling on social. Really think about taking a break from posting so many pictures and updates about how good your life is – you have no idea what a difference this could make.
Here's what not to do.
Don't say that you understand We often think we can relate to another person's suffering, but we can't.
Don't complain about your situation or the people in your life When my son died, people would talk to me about their situation / children. This is NOT okay. Instead be grateful for what you have when talking to them. "We had our kids too close together and can't afford to have anymore right now..." "My son has really been annoying me lately..."
Don't make desserts or food they don't like Be thoughtful! Make recipes they usually make at home. Skip the sugar – sugar doesn't make you feel better when you're sick (remember that rule?).
Don't stay out late with them Make plans to see them earlier in the day. Being tired can make the emotions hard to control.
Don't ask "how are you?" This is triggering. Instead, tell them you're thinking of them. Or, if you are there to talk, "is there anything I can do for you right now?" "is there anything on your heart/mind?"
Don't bring up a story from your own life "I know. When this other thing happened to me, it was so hard..." Again... we simply don't understand.
Don't group them with another person/people "I think of you, and this other person, and this other person, so often..." It is diminishing to compare them to another person who also doesn't understand.
Don't say their suffering is a part of God's plan God does not want bad things to happen to his children. He allows bad things to happen, but they are not a part of His perfect will... Trust me, just don't say this.
Don't imply they should "be postive" "You will be okay. It will get better. You will be happy again." Their world has stopped. Their life will never be the same. Grief takes years. Not days. Not even months. Let them feel how they're feeling.
Don't tell them what they should be doing/feeling "You should start walking. It will make you feel better." "You should start moving on."
Don't say they have an angel watching over them (1) people don't become angels when they die – they become saints. (2) what if that person isn't sure if their loved one is in Heaven? This opens a deep wound.
Hope this helps! Don't forget to pre-order your "Remember Me" poster calendar.
A grieving mom