Knowing what to say when someone you love loses someone they love can be incredibly hard. You want to say something profound and soothing, but all that comes out is, ‘I’m so sorry’. The truth is, there isn’t really anything that you CAN say that will make that much of a difference. What your loved one needs probably isn’t the ‘right’ words anyway – what they likely need is just love and listening.
1. Listen to their stories
Often your loved one might want to speak about the person they’ve lost but people around them might not know how to listen. Don’t let your fear of getting it wrong get in the way. Ask questions about the person, show your interest. Laugh if the story is funny. If you have shared memories of the person, reminisce together. If you’re not sure whether it’s making them feel better, just ask – ‘Is it ok for you to talk about this?’ or ‘Let me know if this is too upsetting and we can talk about something else.’
2. Check in in small ways
Let your loved one know you’re thinking of them, even if you don’t have time to talk. Grief can be incredibly lonely. Checking in might be as simple as a ’Thinking of you. How are you?’ text or even just a heart emoji. Whatever it is, let that person know you haven’t forgotten them or their grief.
3. Don’t judge yourself, just ask
There is no right or wrong way to grieve and everyone will need supporting in different ways. When you don’t know what to do or aren’t sure if you’re being helpful – it’s always ok to ask. If you’re feeling worried about it, just imagine yourself being the equivalent of a human hug. We all know what a good hug feels like. Be warm, be kind, be still. Hold space for your loved one in a way that’s supportive and based on their needs, not suffocating, distant or based on your needs.
Author: Emma Watts, Life Coach at InsideOut