Words that Do Not Help a Grieving Person

Would you like to know what phrases or should you say to someone who is going through a duel?


How many times has it happened to you that you try to vent with someone and end up comforting the other? Have you ever felt that you just needed to be heard and not to be given advice? Have you lived in your own skin the lack of real attention when you needed it? So, so that you are not the one who makes this mistake with others, in those moments when you do not know what to say and say words that do not help, we will help you with some strategies.

Listen, empathy and love for the other. These are the most important references when we want to help someone who is going through a grieving process. It can be a death, a loss or an abandonment, the main problem is that now there is a void where before another person filled it. How can we help someone in this situation?

Words. Words can be double-edged leaves, they can damage or they can heal. They can alleviate or can generate a weight to those who use them or listen to them. Words release but also words can turn against the one who utters them or the one who hears them. Words can generate opportunities or condemn us; save or sink

“It is better to be king of your silence than slave of your words.”

-William Shakespeare-

The words are not blown by the wind

Just as there are words that help the other, there are words that leave a deposit that poisons, that is, words that do not help. Alba Payás, expert in situations of mourning and loss, comments in her book The Message of Tears some of the phrases that do not help a person in mourning, such as:

  • Now you have to be strong.
  • Try to distract yourself.
  • You’ll see how time heals everything.
  • Now he does not suffer anymore.
  • Now you can help other parents, brothers, children, etc.
  • You’re young! I’m sure you’ll recover! You can go back to marry, to have children …
  • You have to remember the good things.
  • That will make you a better person.
  • The children are small, or they will remember nothing.
  • I know how you feel … my … he died …
  • And that now your children are older; imagine if …
  • Lucky you have more children, parents who only have one …
  • Think of your other children …
  • What is he dead?
  • How old was he?

The person who suffers does not know of strength at this moment, it simply needs to gather itself and heal the wound, integrating the loss. He can not be distracted, his mind is based on the memories, but also on the absence itself. The impossibility of company, the goodbye, the farewell, the uncertainty, in many cases also the fear, because whoever left was a great support. And now that?

How can buses or the metro continue to run when everything has stopped? The person in mourning negotiates with a fracture in many cases in a world that is indifferent to it (or that simulates another attitude, but in the bottom there is also indifference). We do not know if the person who has left suffers or has suffered, but what we can see, feel, is the suffering of those who remain.

It’s funny, but perhaps the most appreciated at that time is respect. Do not distort the silence that, in the form of emptiness, we feel when the other leaves. The company, I’m here for whenever you want. He counts on me and really counts. The stop like the other stops, beyond the wake and the funeral. Stay at the door when the indifferent have left. Because then the hard begins: the reconstruction.

The suffering of each one is personal, it is his way and it is his tears. Words that do not help often take you away from that person – there is little neutral communication on these occasions. Sometimes a gesture of affection or a cozy silence is the most comfort generated.

Words that do not help create distances and can even generate suffering.

The power of tears

“Let them go, Lucia,” said the grandmother from somewhere.


-The tears! Sometimes it seems that there are so many that you feel that you are going to drown in them, but it is not like that.

– Do you think that one day they will stop going out?

-Clear! -the grandmother answered with a sweet smile- the tears do not stay too long, they do their job and then they go on their way.

-And what work do they do?

– It’s water, Lucia! They clean, they clarify … like the rain. Everything looks different after the rain “

– “The rain knows why”.

-María Fernanda Heredia-

Tears release us, let us flow, clean us inside. Allowing the other to cry is also a personal work, just as it is to allow sadness or silence; the patience so that, what has to come out, leave. So, maybe notwe have the power for consolation with speech, if we have it with listening. No matter how great the loss, there will come a time when the other, even for a moment, looks around, and it will do him great good to see us.