What Do You Say To Someone Who Is Grieving?


When we lose someone or something precious to us, when we are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness like cancer,  or when life just knocks us down,  people tend to respond in a variety of ways.

Some try to ease the suffering with platitudes or try to force us to look for the silver linings, the blessings inherent in life’s struggles; others avoid us not knowing how to handle our pain, and then there are those who say to us “I am sorry. I don’t know what to say to you to ease your pain, but I am here for you”.

This is the difference between offering someone your sympathy and your heartfelt empathy.

The narrator of this video, Brené Brown, is a researcher who has spent the past decade studying vulnerability. She shows us that we can only create a genuine empathic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own vulnerabilities and are not afraid to open up and share them with others.

I know I struggle with what to say to someone when they are in emotional pain. I want so much to ease that pain but I know that words alone cannot do it. When I am the one in pain I know that I don’t want to hear any platitudes. What I want is for someone to reach out to me and say I see and acknowledge your suffering and you are not alone. I will sit with you through this and hold a space of tenderness for you until you are ready to start healing from this loss.

How about you? How do you respond to a friend or loved one who is grieving? What has been one of the most helpful things you have heard when you have been in emotional distress?