It can be difficult to know what to say during the first contact
with someone who has just suffered a loss. Many avoid the griever because they lack the right words. There are no perfect
words. Grievers are often appreciative for the quieter people who genuinely care and want to be with them.
Asking a grieving person how they are will usually get an "I'm fine" response. We are all pretty good at masking
our feelings. Remember too not to "affirm" someone who is "doing so well" or "taking this so well".
This often locks a person in to feeling that when they "fall apart" a few minutes, hours or weeks later, they will
be letting those around them down.
Your presence makes a difference. Sometimes
just a hug or hand squeeze can express what you are feeling better than words. Most grievers remember the people who
stayed near them on the first day or so more than anyone's words. Often the best thing to do is to "show up, shut
up and listen with your heart". Grievers often need to just have us present and willing to simply listen.
It is okay to ask, "how did you hear" or "what happened?". Then be prepared to just listen. It is
in the telling of our stories that the healing begins. Broken hearts are truly open hearts.
compassion. Compassion means opening your heart to another person and being truly present with the
griever. Set aside your own worries and needs and be available to him or her. Often this means saying little or
nothing at all.
Helpful things to say to a griever:
I am sorry about your loss.
I am here for you.
I can't imagine what this is like for you.
Take all the time you need.
This must be very hard for you.
What's the hardest part?
How are you doing with all of this?
I'll call you tomorrow. (but only if you will)
know why this happened.
It isn't fair.
don't know what to say.