The Worst Thing to Say to Someone Who is Grieving

I remember being on the other side of grief, looking in from the outside and secretly thanking God it wasn’t me. I remember not knowing what to say, feeling awkward, not wanting to cause more hurt. I always wondered what the best thing to say was. Now I’m here, on the other side of grief. Grief has joined me in my life and will walk with me, hand in hand, from this point on until the day I die. I know I will feel joy again one day, but I will always grieve the loss of my daughter. It’s strange now to be the person everyone is glad they are not. I hate it more than anything, but I am thankful for the things I have learned, the compassion that is now so ready for the person who is hurting.

I also now know what I would like people to say to me in my darkest time of pain. I just want them to say something. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be something. (Ok, to the person who said, “At least you won’t have to be pregnant during the summer!” Maybe I would have preferred if you had said nothing.) But it means a lot when they at least try. The worst thing to say to someone who is grieving is nothing. To say nothing is to pretend like it didn’t happen, this thing that stopped my world and changed it forever. This thing that has broken me, the hardest thing I have ever had to walk through. I want people to acknowledge my pain. I want people to acknowledge my sweet daughter. To not say anything is to act like Lucy never was, but she WAS. She was growing so wonderfully in me. She was kicking me everyday. She was going to be chubby with fat baby legs and jowly cheeks. She was going to be Liam and Asher’s baby sister to protect for a lifetime. She was going to have a first kiss, to be her Daddy’s girl, to go to college, to pick out a wedding dress, to name a baby of her own. But everything is lost and I want people to acknowledge that. I always wonder, if it had been my husband that died, would people acknowledge it more? Would they say, “I’m so sorry. How are you doing?” What if it had been Liam or Asher? Would they acknowledge it then? Is it because it’s was a “miscarriage” or “stillbirth” that it seems so hush hush? Sometimes I am baffled when I see a person for the first time since I lost her and they say nothing. Do they not remember that I was round and pregnant the last time they saw me? Did they forget that my daughter died?

And then I remember how I felt on the other side of grief. I didn’t know what to say, even when my heart ached for that person. I looked in their eyes and I said nothing because words couldn’t capture the grief or the healing that I wanted to give them. I remember that time and my racing heart slows and I understand how that feels. I know this is a personal opinion, and maybe there are a lot of people out there who would prefer that others say nothing. For me, a good thing to say to anyone who has suffered a huge loss is, “I’m so sorry about _____________ or about your loss. How are you doing?” I think a surprising amount of people actually want to talk about their suffering, they just want you to ask. I am so thankful for my many amazing friends and family, the ones who have cried with me, sent me cards, brought me food, given gifts, prayed for me again and again and even the ones who have said nothing. You have truly kept me afloat during this time of grief and you have taught me so much. I know your hearts, and I love them deeply, whether you have said the perfect thing or nothing.

Job 4:4 Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees.

Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.


6 thoughts on “The Worst Thing to Say to Someone Who is Grieving

  1. Pingback: When the Sun Shines Somewhere Else | Mrs. City Boy

  2. Pingback: Learning to Grieve Well | communicating.across.boundaries

  3. Thank you for sharing your pain and your loss. Of course losing a baby is such a deep and valid loss. I don’t think people aren’t asking because it was a baby, I lost my husband and people don’t ask me how I am doing either. I think it’s fear, the same fear that I had before I lost my husband. Fear of saying the wrong thing. Fear of not knowing what to say when we open our mouths. Fear that our words will some how make things worse (how could anything possibly make the pain worse???) Thank you again for your post. blessings in your time of sorrow.

  4. It is just the wrong order of death when a child dies first and I know for me whenever something like this happens it reminds me of my own children and how I would feel if it where one of them who died instead and it is unbearable. Perhaps people fear the feelings that they are ill equipped to handle. When those feelings flood out of the other person then they will have to deal with the situation and they may not know how to. If they open that can of worms then it is they who have “brought up the memory” and opened the closed wound. Who knows.

    I am sorry for your loss and my heart goes out to you. As the years pass may you experience joy in many ways that will remind you that that tiny life was palpable and did make a difference to your family. God bless you ❤

  5. I agree. I want people to acknowledge the great loss and say something too. I am hurt if they don’t. I am surprised by the tears and caring of some I didn’t feel I knew well and the semi-avoidance of people I thought I was close to. I try to remember that maybe they just don’t know what to say, like you said. Thanks for your honesty.

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