In October I lost my lovely Dad and I wanted to try to document things in a helpful and concise way for people to use for their own journeys or to support others. These points are 5 things that have ACTUALLY been said to me in the past three months, and I want to explain to you all how problematic these things could be and why I am asking you to stop saying it to people who are grieving. This post is all about educating people from my experience so please take this as a cheat sheet of what not to say to somebody who is grieving.
“Wow it’s clear to see you’ve not lost your appetite/humour/happiness/insert normal function or emotion here”
This is probably the most unhelpful thing to say to somebody who is dealing with a loss, especially if it is a very recent loss, because it is implying that they are not allowed to be normal in this horrible time period. It is implying that they shouldn’t be trying to eat regularly or be happy because of the fact they have lost somebody. When you go though a loss you are already under scrutiny from people as they try to work out how to be around you anyways and when they make comments like that it makes it worse. It makes you feel like you aren’t doing things right and really self conscious and aware of yourself in a negative way. Please don’t comment on things people are doing which are deemed as normal when they are going through a traumatic time, it could be the only normal thing getting them through the day. Plus why shouldn’t people be able to do normal things in a very abnormal time of their life?
“Everything happens for a reason”
That might feel like a positive statement to say when you don’t know what to say to somebody grieving but it really isn’t. What they hear is “this traumatic event was meant to happen so be more positive about it”. A few weeks after losing a parent you really don’t want to hear about how it was on purpose that they passed, it is not a comfort to know that. It makes the death even worse because you feel like you cant be sad or angry about it because it was meant to be. Please just don’t fall onto this crutch and just tell that person you’re here for them and that their feelings are valid, that is much more helpful.
“I think you just need to get on with things and keep yourself busy”
I can appreciate the thought of this but if I’m honest no I don’t need to get on with things, I have got to process these emotions healthily and take things at my own pace. I know that I needed a week of laying in bed and ignoring the world to help me regain energy and to sleep. If I had just kept going to work everyday I would’ve crashed and burnt. So instead of telling people what they need to do, why not just ask what they feel like they need and help support them in doing that?
“I would literally die if I lost my parent. I mean the day my parent dies is the day my life ends”
No you wouldn’t and no it isn’t. It happens and you live on, I’m proof of that. So don’t ever say that to somebody who has just lost a parent because you’re a) making this about you and b) implying that their life isn’t worth living because they have lost a parent. Yes it is a heartbreaking and horrendous experience but you still have to live through it. You have to keep going and enjoy your life. So stop telling me that your life ends when you lose your parents because I still have to get up every morning and live my life so don’t minimise that effort.
“You’re doing amazingly and you’re so strong, I don’t want to keep mentioning it and asking if you’re okay because you’re having a good day and I don’t want to ruin that”
I appreciate you not wanting to upset me by talking about things but I would rather be upset than feel even more lonely. I would rather you as me how I’m really doing than just assume I’m having a good day, because deep down you wont know how I’m doing unless you ask. So just ask and never assume anything. You don’t know when my days are good ones or bad ones so just keep talking to me about it. I have felt even more alone and lonely in my grief process because of people not wanting to check in with me and waiting for me to tell them I’m sad. Just know that when you have lost someone you feel sad deep down all of the time so just know I will always feel sad and want you to reach out to me because I cant reach out every time I feel sad or I will never be off the phone. When you assume somebody is doing okay and so in turn don’t reach out, you’re isolating them and contributing to the problem in their head. So always ask and never assume.
That is my list of 5 things not to say to somebody who is grieving, and if you have in the past or find yourself saying this to somebody in the future please don’t beat yourself up about it but please just be more aware or mindful of this list and better yourself in 2020. Is there anything else you think should be added to the list? Please let me know your thoughts down below.
Thank you so much for reading today and I hope to see you around these parts again soon! If you’re enjoying my content then do leave me a comment, like and follow so I can get all of your feedback. Don’t forget to check out my Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest too which will is down below!