What to Say and Do While Another Person is Grieving

My husband and I sat through our second funeral in two months yesterday. The first was for my husband’s father. Yesterday’s was for a man who had been friends with my father-in-law and who had been a pillar of the church my husband grew up in.

It was emotional; and I left the funeral wondering what people would say about me at my own funeral. What do I need to change in my life so that I can be spoken of so highly as these two men had been? They both had loved the Lord. THAT was evident.

I didn’t have a chance to speak with the new widow. But that’s ok. She was being inundated by well meaning people. I’ll have plenty of time to give her a hug later. But this got me to thinking about what grieving people want or need to hear at such a time as this.

I’ll be honest with you. Grieving people, at least when we went through the first days of the process, don’t need to hear words of “nothing.” These are comments such as: You know he’s in a better place now. He’s in no more pain. Maybe it’s all for the better. God always has a plan.

These comments, while they may be well wishing and perhaps true, are empty to a person who is hurting.

In my experience, during the hours of visitation, the faces of the people who came up to me, gave me a hug, and said, “I love you,” will forever be ingrained in my brain. THAT’S what grieving people need to hear. They need to know that they are still loved despite the pain.

So the next time you have to go to a visitation, or attend a funeral, or visit with someone who just lost a loved one, please remember this: Just give them a hug and say I love you. If they initiate other conversation, that’s great. Go with the flow.

And there’s another thing. If the grieving person has children…offer to babysit them for a few hours. That was one of THE greatest gifts a friend of mine did during the first day of dealing with death. She took my kids so I could be there to support my husband and family during the hours of taking the body away from the house and keeping the phone messages going as the word of death spread.

Death is hard. Everyone will have to face it one day whether we like to admit it or not. I’m finding I am clinging to my faith in Jesus a little bit tighter today. He is my hope and my salvation. And one day I will see Him face to face. Until then, maybe I can love others as these two men did and spread a little more of Jesus to those around me.

3 comments on “What to Say and Do While Another Person is Grieving

  1. So true—-when I lost my mom, people kept saying cliches, and I just wanted to punch them in the face (I didn’t). I didn’t want to hear that this was God’ will or she wasn’t in pain, or all the other things people say. In addition to I love you, a simple I’m sorry is the best thing to say, especially if you don’t know the family that well.

  2. You are so right….during the death of a loved one words are so empty….its like you are in the room but looking in from the outside ….that when your true friends are there for you forever….love you….

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