What to Say When Others are Going through Grieving or Tough Times

[Research summary]

December 2, 2017

Editor: Caesi A. Bevis, MBA

Principal, Crisis Coaching



Sheryl Sandberg, Author, recently pointed out in the self-help aisle at bookstores, there is no section on “helping others.” For USA Today, christmas-holidays-four-mistakes-comforting-grieving-friends

“Holiday blues: Four mistakes we make when comforting friends who are struggling” Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, Opinion contributors Published 7:43 a.m. ET Nov. 30, 2017 | Updated 7:21 a.m. ET Dec. 1, 2017.


Here is a summary of the article, followed by other recommendations from the Internet:


What To Say


  • “I know this is hard for you. I am willing to go through it with you.”


  • “I know you don’t know yet if you will be okay. I know I didn’t know, either. But I will be with you here and help you pull through.”


  • “I didn’t want to invade your privacy or your family member’s. Whatever you want to do, I will understand. No pressure.”


  • “All feelings welcome here.”


  • “I acknowledge your pain. I am here for you.”


The Best Things to Say to Someone in Grief (Grief.com)


  1. I am so sorry for your loss.
  2. I wish I had the right words, just know I care.
  3. I don’t know how you feel, but I am here to help in anyway I can.
  4. You and your loved one will be in my thoughts and prayers.
  5. My favorite memory of your loved one is…
  6. I am always just a phone call away
  7. Give a hug instead of saying something
  8. We all need help at times like this, I am here for you
  9. I am usually up early or late, if you need anything
  10. Saying nothing, just be with the person


Ideas for Do’s


  • Acknowledge their Pain
  • Invite the person over to your home
  • Make a meal or drop one off
  • Make a playlist of music you think the person might like



What NOT to Say


  • “How are you?” (insensitive)
  • “Happy Holidays!” (cruel)
  • “Seasons Greetings!” (cruel)
  • “Cheer up!”
  • “Go to the gym. You will feel better.”
  • Anything comparing your own situation to their’s. (insensitive)



The Worst Things to Say to Someone in Grief (Grief.com)


  1. At least she lived a long life, many people die young.
  2. He is in a better place.
  3. She brought this on herself,
  4. There is a reason for everything.
  5. Aren’t you over him yet, he has been dead for a while now.
  6. You can have another child still.
  7. She was such a good person God wanted her to be with him.
  8. I know how you feel.
  9. She did what she came here to do and it was her time to go. (May be okay, depending on someone’s spiritual beliefs.)
  10. Be strong.


Do Not Do’s


  • Do NOT offer unsolicited advice.


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Caesi Bevis, Author / Speaker Bio

Bevis Consulting

Bevis Consulting

Principal of Bevis Consulting. I am a Futurist, Research Writer, Public Speaker, Voice Over Professional, Consultant, and Expert Witness with over 20+ years background in competitive intelligence, market research, and 13+ years in legislation research and consulting in both the U.S. and Canada. My marketing expertise in recent years includes social network and Internet marketing. I am the former President of the Canadian Business Intelligence Association. My PhD coursework is in Human Behavior Leadership, with an MBA with an International Finance focus, BBA with core courses in Marketing and AA in Advertising Design.

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