Everyone is well-meaning when they attempt to comfort someone who has experienced a loss. Whether you’re at a funeral, dropping off a casserole, or commenting on a Facebook post, finding the right words to say can be challenging.

Before Wayne died, my go-to phrases were, “Sorry for your loss, I can’t imagine your pain, and I’ll be praying for you.” Not that those sentences are wrong, but now I try to be very specific and intentional in the words I choose. Here are some suggestions….

Five Things You Should Not Say to a Grieving Friend:

  1. “He’s in a better place.”
  2. “God needed another angel.”
  3. “You’re going to be stronger because of this.”
  4. “I know how you feel because my grandpa died when I was 8, our fur baby recently crossed over the rainbow bridge, I went through a divorce, etc.” and then proceed to tell YOUR story of grief or pain.
  5. Don’t throw out-of-context scripture at them (i.e. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good.”)

Instead, here are Five Things You Should Say to a Grieving Friend to make your interaction with them more personal and relational :

  1. “There’s nothing I can say or do to make this feel OK”
  2. “I have no words of comfort; just know I’m here for you.”
  3. “He had the biggest smile, warmest heart, gave the best hugs, etc.”
  4. “I remember the time when he….” (then share a favorite story or memory)
  5. Don’t say, “I’ll be praying for you.” Instead be very specific and say, “Today I’ll pray for God to give you peace and comfort and to take away any fear you have about the future.”

It’s important to remember your words have immense power to ease someone’s pain and put salve on a deep, open wound. Use them wisely!


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