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The Power of Words

Date
January 12, 2011
Author
Kate's Club
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The Power of Words
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When someone you know and care about loses a loved one, many of us struggle to know what to say or how to communicate. The Children’s Grief Education Association offers the following helpful list.

WORDS that HELP

Offering support to a grieving loved one can begin with a simple statement or open-ended questions. Here are some conversation starters:

  • I’m sorry your mom / dad / sister died.
  • What was your dad / mom / brother like?
  • What was his favorite food?
  • What do you miss most?
  • What is the hardest part for you?
  • What is the hardest time of day for you?
  • I cannot know how you feel, but I remember how I felt when my _____ died.
  • I care about you.
  • I care about how you are feeling.
  • Is there anything I can do to help?
  • Is there anything I can change to make you feel more comfortable?
  • Would you like to talk about it?
  • I’m available at this time, if you would like to come by to talk.
  • Whenever you want to talk about it, I’m here for you.
  • I’m thinking about you today because I’m aware that today is your _____’s birthday (anniversary of the death, your birthday, etc.)
  • I’m here to listen if you want to talk, or just spend time together if you don’t want to talk.
  • When is your recital (game, rehearsal, etc.)? Would it be okay if I stop by?

WORDS that HURT

The following are a few of the potentially harmful comments that are often offered when someone is grieving the loss of a loved one:

  • I know just how you feel.
  • I know just how you feel… my dog died last year.
  • Lick your wounds and move on.
  • You’ll get over it.
  • Don’t think about it.
  • You are better off without him.
  • Don’t cry.
  • It’s your fault.
  • You drove your father to drink.
  • If only you had ______
  • Tears won’t bring her / him back.
  • Be strong.
  • Forget about it.
  • You are the man / woman of the house now.
  • You SHOULD feel… (proud, relieved, happy, sad, etc.)

Image from tipdeck.com

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