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Grief - Things To Avoid When Comforting The Grieving

Marsha Johnson

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Grief & Mourning Manners The Don’ts

  • Do not be overly sensitive to the words or actions of someone in the midst of grief. When people hurt, things are often said and done that later are regretted. Focus on keeping the past where it belongs - in the past. Keep in mind that choosing to be compassionate is choosing to suffer with someone in great pain. Often, that means it is a painful experience for the comforter as well.

  • Do not ask for specific details about the death. Most often the grieving will share details when and if they are ready. Otherwise, it can be very painful to feel pressured into sharing the particulars of a loved one’s death, divorce, or disease.

  • Do not pretend that their loved one never existed. Hurting people have said to me, “Please don’t ignore the fact my loved one lived”. Grieving people want you to remember that the deceased was a part of their lives.

  • Do not say God took their loved one. Sometimes well meaning people want to help make sense of tragedy. In that intense moment of pain, most grieving and broken-hearted people cannot find comfort in thinking that a loving God would allow such sorrow. It takes time for the loss to be processed.

  • Do not compare past losses with present sorrow. Grieving people are overwhelmed in their present grief and processing their own loss and comparing your past losses is not always comforting.

  • Do not give advice unless asked. Although motives might be well meaning and sincere rarely are grieving people at a place where they can process opinions. Hurting souls just want someone willing to listen.

  • Do not change your home. Families have shared that it is often upsetting, after months of grief, to walk into another family member’s home and see a memorial set up in the living room. Also, it is very painful to walk into a family member’s home and see that all evidence of the loved one has been removed, as if they never lived.

  • Do not refuse someone their loss, whether the loss was a beloved grandparent, spouse, or a divorce. These are all losses and whether the comforter loved the one who is now gone or not, it does not make the loss to the grieving person any less significant.

  • Do not forget the grieving. Their lives have changed forever.

  • Do not speak where God has not spoken. Sometimes it is better to be silent.

    Marsha Johnson is a writer, speaker and the author of Emerald’s Garden – How to grieve, mourn and recover from loss. See to sign up for your Grief Recovery e-newsletter.

    Marsha Johnson is a writer, speaker and the author of Emerald’s Garden – How to grieve, mourn and recover from loss. See to sign up for your free Grief Recovery e-newsletter.

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