Things You Should Never Say to Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One


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When someone loses a loved one, you shouldn’t be afraid to talk to them. Treat them like they’re human. Be there for them. Comfort them. Just make sure you don’t say the wrong thing — and there are plenty of wrong things you could say to a grieving person. Here are some of the most off-limits examples.

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1. ‘I Know How You Feel’

Here’s the deal: If you’ve lost a loved one, you’ve felt grief. You’ve sat in that pain. You’ve lived in that sadness. But losing someone isn’t the same as losing anyone — catch our drift? You might know what it feels like to lose someone close to you, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all experience. As such, it’s not exactly comforting to say this to someone who is actively grieving. You might know what grief feels like, but you don’t know what theirs feels like. 

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2. ‘Everything Happens for a Reason’

Saying this to someone dealing with a loss seems about the same as handing them a cross-stitched wall hanging with the same phrase. When was the last time you were swallowed whole by grief and the “reason” was what pulled you through? 

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3. ‘Time Heals All Wounds’

It’s not entirely untrue that it can get easier to deal with feelings of grief over time. Still, this isn’t what you want to hear when you’re in the thick of it, because it’s not like you have a fast-forward button you can press to arrive at the point when healing starts. 

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4. ‘How Are You Doing?’

This is about the most seemingly innocent question you can ask a person who has just lost someone close to them. Sometimes it comes from genuine care for their well-being and a desire to know if there is something you can do to support them, and other times it’s just something you say when you don’t know what else to say. Either way, it’s a loaded question. The answer is almost always going to be something akin to “I’m OK,” when the truth would more than likely be something only a licensed therapist would be equipped to hear.

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5. ‘You’ll Get Over It Eventually’

This is basically the even less sensitive version of “Time heals all wounds.” One does not “get over” the loss of a loved one. This is one of the most idiotic things you could utter. 

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6. ‘God Has a Plan’

You might believe this with all of your heart, and it may be true. But this sentiment doesn’t exactly lessen the blow of acute grief. 

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7. ‘What Happened?’

There are certainly situations in which this might be deemed appropriate or at least acceptable to ask. But if the notion is nosiness, put yourself in check and pipe down. If someone wants to share the cause of death with you or others, they will, but try to respect the fact that it might be too sensitive to discuss.

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8. ‘You Have To Move Forward’

Obviously. Time might feel like it’s standing still when you lose someone you love, but it’s no secret that it doesn’t and won’t and that life must go on. Don’t state the obvious. 

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