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"What NOT to Say" - by Rev. Weldon Bares

I have been in the ministry of the church for over 40 years. I have conducted hundreds of funerals and walked with many families through the process of grief, sometimes intense grief.

With love and humility, let me suggest to you some things to NOT say to someone who has lost a loved one and is in the midst of grief.

#1. Don’t say, “I know how you feel.” Because we don’t. Each person grieves differently. It usually comes across wrong when we say, “I know how you feel.”

#2. It’s not helpful to say, “God needed another angel.” Scripture doesn’t say that we become angels when we die. Let’s not put ourselves in the position of explaining why this happened.

#3. I suggest to not say, “If there is anything I can do, let me know.” That is a nice sentiment, but the grieving person doesn’t even know what he/she needs at the moment. Instead, offer something like, “I am going to have your yard moved this week.” “Let me have your car keys and I will fill-up your car and have it washed.” “I’m going to bring dinner for you tomorrow evening.” Offer something specific.

#4. Don’t say, “Time will heal your grief.” It is true, time and the grace of God will ease our grief. But for us to say this to a person in the middle of grief is usually not helpful. They will discover this on their own.

So, what to say? You really don’t need to say anything. Just offering a hug and your sympathetic presence means a lot.

You can never go wrong with saying, “I love you.” You can never go wrong with saying, “I am praying for you.”


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