What to Say/What Not to Say

 In Grief Articles

Adapted from: What To Do When Someone Dies Buz Overbeck – Joanie Overbeck TLC Group – Dallas, TX 1995

Although many people want to comfort and help the bereaved, the stress and anxiety of the encounter sometimes makes it difficult to know what is actually helpful. Often, the phrase that is meant to help actually produces more pain and distress. What follows is a partial list of phrases that have been found to be helpful (or hurtful) in comforting the grieving person. 

What To Say What Not To Say
I’m sorry I understand how you feel
I’m sad for you Death was a blessing
How are you doing with all this? It was God’s will
I don’t know why it happened It all happened for the best
What can I do for you? You’re still young
I’m here and I want to listen You have your whole life ahead of you
Please tell me what you are feeling You’ll feel worse before you feel better
This must be hard for you You can have other children
What’s the hardest part for you? You can always remarry
I’ll call you tomorrow Call me when I can help
You must really be hurting Something good will come out of this
It isn’t fair, is it? At least you have another child
You must really feel angry He (She) led a full life
Take all the time you need It’s time to put it behind you now
Thank you for sharing your feelings Be strong!


TLC Group grants anyone the right to use this information without compensation so long as the copy is not used for profit or as training materials in a profit making activity such as workshops, lectures, and seminars, and so long as this paragraph is retained in its entirety.

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