What to say, and what not to say, to someone in grief

“Some people are not meant to live a long life.” She sighed.

“Wait….. What…… is that the best statement you can offer? I internally yelled.

This mediumship reading was conducted via phone with a very highly acclaimed medium at a super high, pocket blowing cost, the most expensive to date.

My friend, Molly, had died suddenly, her transition was recent and what made this situation worse she had gone to join her 11-year-old son who had passed only 2 years before her

I couldn’t speak, unseen tears rolled down my face, anger built up in my chest. The comment was frivolous at best and deeply hurtful at worse. I had lost my respect for her at that point. The medium was pleased with her attempt to soothe my pain and went on talking, the rest is a blur. This statement is the only thing I can remember about the ‘mortgage payment’ reading.

Should the medium know how to support a grieving person? Is that part of his/her role?

Yes, I would say it is. But I believe few actually take the time to learn about grief. Sure, mediums are not grief counsellors but knowing what to say when someone is grieving is part of this delicate line of work.

So what is the goal of communicating with someone in grief?

Dr Roger Kay Allen in is Udemy Course on Active Listening (2021) states

“The goal is to be present in a

non-judgemental way”

Dr Roger Kay Allen

So how can we be present, in a non-judgemental way?

Avoid statements like

  1. “I know how you feel”

Even if you have been in similar circumstances you cannot know how someone feels.

  1. “They are in a better place”, “God only takes the best”, The best die young” etc.

Do not try to soothe them by attempting to take away their pain. You can’t take away their pain. Of course we do not want to see them suffer so we offer well meaning yet potentially hurtful comments.

  1. “At least……” 

At least statements such as; at least they didn’t suffer, at least financially you will be fine, at least she is with her son. Should be avoided at all costs, they trivialize the death of their loved one.

What should you say?

I am sorry for your loss

I am sorry for what you are going through

Losing a loved one is hard

I know how much you loved them

You are in my thoughts

I will miss him/her

After one of these statements just be quiet, stay present. Hold or touch the person if appropriate and if the person wants this, get a tissue, some water, get practical. And remember you cannot take away a person’s pain.

Funnily, Molly offered me the best support whilst I was grieving after the loss of my pregnancy. How did she help? She contacted me as soon as she heard, said she was so sorry for our loss, and whilst I was screaming, crying and cursing she was present. I think she even cooked. I miss her.