People often ask me, “What do I say and what do I do for someone I know who is grieving?” I can boil it down to pretty much two simple things: say something and show up.
Now there are several reasons we tend to not do those things. Sometimes we don’t say something to someone who is grieving because we’re so afraid of saying the wrong thing. We don’t say something maybe because we think, “Okay, I’m not very close to that person and they’ve got plenty of other people that know them well who are engaged with them, so they don’t need me to say something.” I would want you to know that grieving people know everyone who has acknowledged their loss.Don’t avoid someone who is going through grief. It is very simple: say something and show up.
For someone who’s grieving, it is kind of like a hurdle has come up in between them and everyone in their world. It doesn’t have to be a super long conversation. You don’t have to say something that fixes their problem or say something especially profound. All you have to do is acknowledge their loss. Let them know that you are sad with them, and when you do that that hurdle comes down. So, say something.
Second, show up. Once again, we think sometimes, “Okay, there are so many people around them they will not notice if I was there at the funeral. They won’t notice if I come over to the house because so many people are coming over.” The reality for grieving people is that they do notice. There is something profoundly meaningful that in the lowest place of life someone dropped everything going on in their world and chose to enter yours. Not because they thought they could fix it or because they were going to explain it all, but they just wanted to draw alongside in the midst of loss.
Don’t avoid someone who is going through grief. We often do that out of awkwardness, but it is very simple: say something. You can just simply say, “I am so very sad with you.” Sometimes you can even say something like, “I don’t know what to say.” That’s a very humble way to respond to someone’s loss.
Say something, and show up.