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10 Things Never to Say To Someone Grieving


From the shocking death of boxing’s most celebrated athlete, heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali to Nollywood’s very own Henrietta Kosoko and now football icon, former Super Eagles Coach and Captain Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, it’s been a tough time for Nigeria and the international world as a whole.

Losing a dear one can be really tough, it seems like your whole world has been turn apart and nothing just seems to make sense at this point. Understandably, it’s often hard to know how and what to say to comfort a grieving person. Here are 10 common mistakes to avoid when trying to offer words of consolation, so you don’t make the situation worse:

“I understand how you feel”


No you DON’T understand how someone else feels! Even if you’ve experienced a loss at one point in your life, losing a person is an overwhelmingly personal experience. Each relationship is unique.

“She’s in a better place/ with Jesus”


Never ever imply you know the location of a deceased soul even if the person has the same beliefs as you. This most likely makes the bereaved angry at God for snatching their loved one away. It could also add guilt to grief as the person might feel guilty for “Questioning God.”

“It was his time”


So you’re searching your mental vocabulary for the perfect words to comfort someone who is grieving, then you blurt out a seemingly “logical” reason, hoping it will make them feel better. Note – You can’t!

“Oh, well everyone dies eventually”


Death is an unavoidable part of life”...(said especially when trying to comfort children of the deceased)  Nope, not helping one bit. This is the last thing any grieving person needs to hear.

“At least it’s a good thing she died doing what she loved”


“What an honour to die for one’s country, thank God he died before the pain got worse ...” Statements like this no matter how well meaning, tend to appear insensitive. When it comes to emotions, logic has no place.

 “You can always…”


When one loses a child or a partner, people tend to bombard them with suggestions that they can always “get married or have another child”. This indirectly suggests that the deceased is replaceable and with time they will forget them… This might lead them to guilt, don’t go there.

“How are you doing?”


Really? First of all that person just lost a loved one so of course, they’re feeling less than fabulous! Secondly, you’re most likely to land an “Okay” rather than know exactly how the person is feeling at that moment. Don’t ask! You know already.

“She’s at peace now…didn’t have to suffer”


This doesn’t help because it implies they should somehow be glad or grateful for their own loss. Just keep mute!

“If there’s anything I can do to help, call me”


This is one mistake we often make. Most times the individual is too wrapped up in their own grief to even identify their needs. Don’t ask, just help because you’ll never get that call. But if you aren’t that close, be thoughtful with your offer.

“Cheer up, Tina wouldn’t want you to be sad”


Yes they loved the departed one and obviously in their life time, he/she wouldn’t want to see them sad, but this is different, pain helps heal. For that period of time, grievers need to get in touch with pain and sadness to help them cope better with the loss.

That said, sometimes a simple “I’m so sorry for your loss,” , a hug or your presence will be a much more appreciated instead of blurting stupid phrases.

4 Things to Say/ do comfort someone in grief:

  • “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
  • “Whenever you feel like talking I’m right here.”
  • A simple sweet hug
  • Be present.

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