Top Ten Things those who are grieving wish You’d Understand


Grief is an emotion that everyone handles differently so giving blanket statements meant to come off as sympathetic can potentially cause more harm than good. The following are ways to avoid making the grieving process harder for those who have recently suffered a loss in their lives.

  1. Grief is an emotion that will show itself in any number of ways. Just because a person isn’t crying every moment of the day or goes into a deep depression immediately, doesn’t mean that they aren’t in pain.  They may just be trying to come to terms with the death and any sort of signs of grief may come weeks, months or even years later. Do not judge how a person grieves especially if it is not how you think you would handle the situation if you were in it. You can’t predict how you are going to actually handle the death of a loved one and judging someone while they are at a low point in their life isn’t your responsibility. Let them grieve in their own way.

  2. Let the person grieve as long as they need. Do not rush the process because you think they’re taking too long or they’re feeling any one emotion too much. There isn’t a set timeline to get over a death. Yes, if the person gets self destructive or is doing things to keep themselves from moving forward, work with them to help the process move forward but do not give an unrealistic timeframe of when the person should be over the grieving process. Grief isn’t a race to be won in record time.

  3. Grief isn’t the same as depression. It can certainly become depression if the process goes on long enough but this is a temporary (temporary in that it shouldn’t be as raw of a feeling with each passing month) feeling that shouldn’t be subjected to the stigma that depression currently faces. This is a natural way to cope with a loss. A person will feel varying amounts of sadness and all of them are to be expected. Depression stems from a myriad amount of causes but grief has one cause. They aren’t the same thing.

  4. Grief isn’t contagious and the person isn’t expecting you to treat them like they’re a precious piece of glass. You will not suffer a loss in your family if you speak to the co-worker/friend who lost a family member they were close to. They will probably want to be left alone while they try to get back into the groove of working/living their daily lives and dealing with this new mix of emotions. It’s nice of you to offer to help them with any work to ease their workday or to offer to be a person they can vent to but don’t avoid them like they have a contagious disease.

  5. Being young when the person dies doesn’t make the process easier. If they’re a child then they’ll have their whole lifetime to be without that person versus just their adulthood. They may be able to get over it in the short term faster since they’re too young to really know how to deal with the situation but that doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be any future long term issues that may come up later. Address the death in an age appropriate manner and do yearly check ins as they grow up to make sure the death isn’t having a negative impact on their lives.

  6. The following things should never be said at the funeral: “Did you hire a lawyer in case you get sued?” “It was their own fault” “Did they leave you with life insurance?” “Are you planning on remarrying?” “Once you have another child, you’ll forget this even happened” and “How much did this funeral cost?”

  7. If you are extended family- as in the brother of the deceased or cousin or anyone who doesn’t share the same home as the deceased, you have no right to invite your friends to the funeral unless you get permission from the deceased’s immediate family. This isn’t a party or a chance to catch up with your friends if you’re coming into town for the funeral and have a limited window of time to see all of your buddies.  You can see your friends on your own time. Plus what weirdo friends would go to a funeral as a means to see you?

  8. The deceased person’s belongings are not up for grabs unless the person’s will bequests something to you. Don’t expect to just be given something because you’ve had your eye on it for years or you think since you’re related to them you precede the surviving spouse or their children.  This is so beyond tacky but it happens so much in the courts system that it needs to be addressed. Speak with the family about what you feel you are owed and why but otherwise if it legally comes down to it, if the will doesn’t say you can have it then you have the option of contesting the will which can cost more money to you than the item/property is worth anyways or you can learn to live without the thing since you have managed to live without it so far anyways. Don’t be a vulture once a person dies.

  9.  Holidays and birthdays of the deceased person are going to be hard for their surviving family in that first year if not longer. They have to accept this person isn’t going to be part of the celebrations anymore and that can be pretty devastating especially when the celebration is supposed to be a joyous event. Respect their wishes if they want to spend the holiday alone.  This is their time to figure out how they want to celebrate these events now and in the future so give them their space if they ask for it.

  10. Death is going to bring about feelings of your own mortality whether you’re the surviving family member or you’re aquainted with someone who has suffered a loss. Treat this feeling of the inevitable as a means of motivation. Don’t let your life get complacent. Do the things you’ve been putting off since death is the greatest reminder that we all have a limited time on Earth to chase our dreams. Meet with a lawyer to get a will so you know your wishes are expressed as you want them to be instead of your family being forced to guess. The probate process is nasty and if you can save your family from going through it they’ll be grateful for it.


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