What to Say to a Bereaved Person

I often have people that sign up to receive notifications from the Grieving Dads blog.  Today I received a notification that “The Grief Geek” has started to follow me.  I spent some time on their blog and I found that many of the topics I have discussed are also discussed on this blog.  It is always good to see a topic from a different perspective or experience.  Therefore, I wanted to share the blog with all of you as a resource.

Also, one of the posting stood out to me.  Its on the topic of “what to say or not to say” to a bereaved parent or anyone that is grieving for that matter.   Over the last 5 years, I have heard from many of my followers regarding the horrific things that people say to them because they are either ignorant or really have not idea what to say.

Take a look at the link below to see the article but also come back to this posting and share with me the things people have said to you that have helped or not helped.

What to say to a bereaved person.

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14 Responses to What to Say to a Bereaved Person

  1. Rudy Schmidt says:

    Kelly thanks for being there. You have helped me more than you know.
    I will be telling you Melissa’s story one of these days.
    As for now it is too long to explain.
    Rudy from Montreal.
    I have been following your posts sent to me for close to five years now.

    • GrievingDads says:

      Rudy – Thank you very much for the kind words. It is always good to hear that the work I do makes a difference. That’s why I do it. When you are ready to tell your and Melissa’s story, I am hear to listen brother.

      Hard to believe I’ve been at this for 5 years now.

      Peace.

      Kelly

  2. Nick says:

    What really pissed me off was one definitely former friend asking me why I hadn’t spent more time with my son in the months before his death. What the hell did he know about what was driving me, what I needed to do and what was generally going on? He then preceded to tell me that he didn’t want to talk about it anymore since he and his wife were having a baby and didn’t want any upset.

    But one of the best people was my friend who was just sort of there. When all hell was breaking loose, he would just turn up. If I wanted to talk about my son’s death I could and we both knew that. If I didn’t that was OK too. He was great.

    • GrievingDads says:

      Nick – Tell your co-worker to go fuck himself. Clueless and selfish.

      I too had a friend like yours who showed up, called and was just there for me. I think most of us have these types of friends, but we have to be open to allowing them to be there. We need to take of the “I’m strong” mask and allow ourselves to accept the gift. One of the best gifts you can ever give to another human being. The gift of compassion.

      Peace.

      Kelly

  3. Steve says:

    Lost my precious daughter Jeanne at age 30 from Diabetes. Here’s what I have heard…….

    Do you have other children? from a friend
    God probably spared her from going blind and losing her fingers and toes. from mom
    She’s in a better place. numerous
    Everything happens for a reason. numerous idiots
    You need to get yourself together and move on. brother (who called me twice in the first 20 months)
    My sister lost her child and I can’t believe she isn’t over it yet. coworker
    I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to make it worse. (how can you make it worse??)
    Jeanne wasn’t strong enough emotionally to tell you that she had issues with you. (from other daughter – who is an extreme narcissist as it turns out….)

    Dad you are the best dad ever. from son

    • GrievingDads says:

      The reason they can’t believe they are not over it yet is the fact they themselves have never had to get over it. I invite anyone to give it a try if they think its an easy path. Its not and you will never be the same.

      Kelly

  4. Mick says:

    I agree with Tim’s comments above about “how are you feeling” and “Holding Up” in terms of good, acceptable questions/comments…the rest quite frankly either frustrate, anger or dumfound. I really do not appreciate “he is in a better place” or “God had better plans for him”, or “happened for a reason”….NO, absolutely frigin NO..if you have lost a child and believe that crap then good for you, but the people who have said that to me have never lost a child. Unless you have experienced this hell on earth I don’t want to hear your opinion, just ask how I am feeling.

    • GrievingDads says:

      How about “you are still young, you can have another child or adopt” I asked a friend of my after he said this to me (he was saying it as a way to help) “If your two kids died, could you just go adopt of have another baby and move on”. Of course the answer was no.

      Peace.

      Kelly

  5. Tim Hayes says:

    Kelly – As you state, it is truly amazing what people say to others after a great loss. After my son’s death, I tried to encourage others to consider “talking” less and simply “being present” more. Sadly, this is a lesson that even we who have lost children need to learn sometimes. Nine months after I lost my son, a coworker lost her son, who was my son’s age. It was especially rough on her, because it occurred on Thanksgiving Day, which was also her birthday… what a mess! Immediately upon learning about it, I visited her. When I left her house, I had many thoughts of: “Did I actually say that?! Have I not learned anything?” I gave myself some grace, because I recognized that she may not remember those first few days. There is so much that I cannot remember in the days after Keith died. Regardless, I have been determined to listen more than I speak when facing similar situations.

    Caroline – I appreciate your recommendation to ask, “How are you feeling?” One of the most frustrating questions I remember was a simple, “How are you doing?” My thoughts were nearly always, “How do you think I’m doing, idiot?! My son is dead!” Shifting the focus to “feeling” is something I could get my head around: “I feel miserable! I feel numb.” Another question that I have found works well is, “How are you holding up?” This seems to be received well, because one can give a simple answer: “I’m not.” For me, it is a good way to come at feelings from the side rather than head-on.

    • GrievingDads says:

      Tim – How are you feeling is a great question. I found myself last year at a visitation for a dear friend of ours after they lost their 1 week year old little boy asking them “How are you doing?”. Stupid question, because I know how they are doing, terrible. When people use to ask me “how I was doing”, even in passing a stranger on the street as a greeting, I would respond with “Not good”. Of course that would cause them to either hurry along or to stop and acknowledge what I said. That would then give me a chance to share my feelings. Sometimes I would say through my tears that “my babies have died”. A horrible thing to hear from a stranger, but a reality of what people go through. It gave me a chance to say it out load, mainly because I was still having a problem with the reality of it. Thanks for sharing. Kelly

  6. A relative said to me that if one of his children died, he’d have to kill himself. It was as if my not killing myself meant I didn’t love my wonderful Amy as much as he did his children. It was very hurtful.

    • GrievingDads says:

      John – I hear this all of the time from bereaved parents. Terrible thing to say to a bereaved parent. I never thought of it the way you did. I always looked at it like “yeah, it is that painful and took it as confirmation that they kind of understand how bad this nightmare really is. I say “kind of” because an off the cuff statement that goes away after they say it is easy. What we do everyday, especially early on, is make a decision to continue on and to live a life that would make our children proud. Thanks for your comments.

      Kelly

  7. Reblogged this on The Grief Geek and commented:
    I found this blog today and was very impressed. It’s particularly helpful for grieving dads.

  8. Thank you so much for taking the time to check out my blog and obviously for the referral. I’ve only recently started blogging so this is all new to me. The article was written due to a request from a 17 year old who’s father had killed himself and she was despairing at some of the insensitive comments or being completely ignored. She approved of the blog so I published it for her. Another excellent blog is ‘What on earth do you say to a bereaved mum’ on the chasingdragonfliesblog.wordpress.com She uses the acronym STALL. It’s an excellent piece and far superior to anything I could construct. I’m really looking forward to continuing to follow your blogs, I think they are excellent and will refer people to you as well. Thanks again, Caroline.

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