While chatting with a friend I mentioned that my good friend had died this winter. She asked, “Is that your friend who was terminally ill?” When I answered yes, she said, “Well you knew she was going to die.” Speechless, I thought, what an insensitive thing to say to someone grieving a loss.
Anyone who has experienced a loss knows that people say inappropriate things all the time. The news of a death is shocking and many individuals just do not know what to say when confronted with sad news. Instead of simply saying, “I’m so sorry for your loss” or, “That’s such sad news,” they speak without thinking and something tactless spills out.
I recently spoke with a young woman who shared that a friend had told her after her mom died, “I know how you feel; my dog died.” The comparison of the loss of her mother to a dog was hurtful. A bereaved neighbor felt the same way when a friend compared the death of her beloved husband to her divorce.
While these are just a few comments that can hurt the bereaved, what follows is a list of things you should never say to the bereaved:
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now at a reduced price for e-books for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store.
Image provided courtesy of the author.