What NOT to say to someone who is Grieving : 10 Expressions to Avoid


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Usually, our loved ones have good intentions: they want to make us feel better when we are grieving. They definitely don’t want to upset us anymore than we are, and they might be terrified of saying the wrong thing.

Unfortunately, our society lacks grief education. How to react to grief and sickness is not a subject that is part of the school curriculum. Instead, we are taught and raised to be positive, to “fix” when things are bad, and to come up with solutions when someone is sad. This is where we go wrong. Grief is not something that is broken, it is simply a natural reaction to a great loss.

If we truly care about the person who is grieving, we should make an effort to live alongside grief. We don’t necessarily need to have the right words. Firstly, the emotional support is crucial. You should have a willingness to talk about the person who died. You should continue to ask the bereaved how they are feeling, even if it’s been months. Being empathic is also supporting them in their grief journey and the projects they undertake.

Before I write a post on What to do around someone who is grieving (or sick) and What to say, I want to start with a list of expressions that we should avoid. It will then be easier to explain the reasons we should avoid them, and what we should say instead.

When sharing with other bereaved people, what I take away most is that not only do they suffer through their grief, but they often feel misunderstood by others. The bereaved are upset by hurtful comments, such as: “Move on”, “At least you…” or “You should…”. Not only such comments are not helpful, but they also indicate a lack of empathy for the bereaved.

10 Things NOT to Say to Someone who is Grieving

Finally, I am including a link to an older post which I recently updated and improved, including more infographics! The post explains the differences between pity, sympathy, empathy and compassion. It makes it easier to understand and identify emphatic gestures and what one should do to become more empathetic and compassionate. Let’s not forget that empathy is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence. Here’s a preview of the post, you should check it out!


That’s it for now!
Are you surprised by any of the 10 expressions above and would like to know why they should be avoided?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. We appreciate them.

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3 responses to “What NOT to say to someone who is Grieving : 10 Expressions to Avoid”

  1. C’est vrai que nous ne sommes pas éduqué sur comment réagir face au deuil ou à la maladie d’une autre personne. Je crois que la plupart de nos commentaires ou actions vont dépendre sur les valeurs que l’on a acquit durant notre enfance ainsi que notre propre vécu. J’ai expérimenté moi-même ce fait lorsque je me battais contre le cancer. Merci d’enrichir nos connaissances sur le sujet. J’ai hâte de lire les explications et sur « Quoi faire » et « Quoi dire » que tu planifie aborder. Vu que tu demandes si on a été surprise par une des expressions, j’avoue que la 2e est celle qui me fait questionner le plus. Gros câlins.

  2. Merci pour cette article. C’est très bien d’en parler et de nous en apprendre plus sur le sujet. J’espère que tu n’as pas vécu ces commentaires.

    • merci beaucoup Mia pour ton commentaire. C’est un sujet qui va toucher de plus en plus de monde (avec la population qui vieillit). J’ai vécu un des commentaires, mais c’était un des moins pires dans la liste. Certains de mes amis sur des groupes de parents endeuillés ont reçus certains de ces propos affreux et ont été grandement blessés. Merci de continuer à me lire.

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