After a death, it's difficult to know what to say to surviving family members. Death makes most people feel uncomfortable; although we want to say something to make a grieving family member feel better, it's important to know what NOT to say after their loved one has passed.
1. "I know how you feel". Losing a loved one affects everyone differently, and nobody can truly understand how another person feels. It can come across as condescending to tell someone that their experience is identical to yours. Instead, explain how you felt in a similar situation, and ask if they feel the same way. Or simply tell them you don't know what to say, but that you're sorry and are available to talk anytime.
2. "She's in a better place". When someone loses a loved one, they will continue to believe that the best place for that person is with the family. Losing a close family member or friend can cause some people to challenge their beliefs, so the statement may elicit strong emotions. It's better to share a favorite memory of the deceased.
3. "Don't cry". People who are grieving need to express their feelings in a natural way. Telling them to not do that makes it difficult for them to accept and process the loss. Offer a hug or hold their hand, and allow them to cry if that's what they need.
4. "He looks so natural". Saying these words only serves to remind those grieving that their loved one is gone. Don't comment on the appearance of the deceased, but if someone else offers their opinion that the deceased looks wonderful, do agree with them.
5. "Let me know if I can help". Anyone in mourning doesn't need more decisions to make. It's more considerate to simply offer to bring food for the family, to take care of their pets, or to help with yard chores or housecleaning.
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