Here’s one we are constantly revising in our heads. We want to say something but often start overthinking it: What’s the best thing to say? How do I say it without stirring up sorrowful emotions? Should I say anything at all?
While everyone experiences loss differently – these were the best 5 things said to me while grieving the loss of my husband.
1. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
Although some may feel this lacks in creativity, it’s an honest and direct way to show empathy. It would open up conversation (if I wanted to talk) or would be enough to let me know I was in their thoughts. Spoken with heartfelt intentions, its simplicity carried deeply infused authenticity and often was all that needed to be said.
2. “I’ll stop by tomorrow with dinner.”
A specific offer was always the best offer. While I felt the love and compassion behind every “Let me know if you need anything” offering, many days I had no clue what I needed. I struggled planning for anything that was not an immediate necessity. Dinner Thursday was not an immediate necessity until around 4PM Thursday. By then, I would feel incredibly uncomfortable calling someone with the request to bring over a dinner within a two hour time window. Don’t ask – just tell. I would never say no to a home-cooked meal.
3. “My favorite memory of Joe is…”
After surviving the initial months of numbness and shock, I found it comforting to have friends share with me their fondest memories of Joe. Wonderful stories involving college days, cooking adventures or comedic work scenarios, many of which I had never heard before, were told. Did it sometimes make me cry? Of course! But it was incredibly therapeutic to embrace all the moments of joy he brought this world and be reminded of how deeply he touched so many lives.
4. “My phone is always on. Don’t hesitate to call at any hour.”
While many friends offered “call anytime,” I still felt apprehensive about calling someone late at night or in the wee hours of the morning when grief or depression got the best of me. One friend made it perfectly clear on numerous occasions that she meant what she said by “any hour” and would happily take my call and spend however long necessary to get me through.
These were not easy calls to make or receive, and offering this is not for everyone. If you do feel confident enough to stand by those words and can commit to have your phone ready to answer any call that comes your way – I highly recommend it. While I only made a few late night/early morning outreach calls, there was incredible relief knowing I did not have to think twice about making the call and received surprisingly wonderful feedback on how much she appreciated being able to be that someone who could help on the other line.
5. They Said Nothing – They just showed up, listened or gave me a hug.
As open as I was (and still am) talking about Joe’s death and my personal grieving process, there were days I just wanted to cry, vent or express my misery and grief without hearing anyone’s well-intended opinions. I found it most helpful when someone would take my cues and instead of talking, just held my hand, walked with me or silently sat and allowed me to freely purge my sorrow without feeling pressure to do anything other than sit beside me.
While these all might not be the best for everyone, for me, these were the words (or actions) I needed and appreciated.
What words comforted you most while going through grief?