What do I say?

What do I say?

It’s a question people often ask when someone they know is grieving the death of someone close to them. The simple answer is; you don’t have to say anything – or at least not as much as you might think you do. When someone has lost someone, they may want to talk about them and all you have to do is listen.

Here is a list of Do’s and Don’ts from Cruse Bereavement Care, the leading national charity for UK bereaved people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.


  • Be there for the person who is grieving – pick up the phone, write a letter or an email, call by or arrange to visit.
  • Accept that everyone grieves in their own way; there is no ‘normal’ way.
  • Encourage the person to talk.
  • Listen to the person.
  • Create an environment in which the bereaved person can be themselves and show their feelings, rather than having to put on a front.
  • Be aware that grief can take a long time.
  • Contact the person at difficult times such as special anniversaries and birthdays.
  • Mention useful support agencies such as Cruse.
  • Offer useful practical help.


  • Avoid someone who has been bereaved.
  • Use clichés such as ‘I understand how you feel’; ‘You’ll get over it; ‘Time heals’.
  • Tell them it’s time to move on, they should be over it – how long a person needs to grieve is entirely individual.
  • Be alarmed if the bereaved person doesn’t want to talk or demonstrates anger.
  • Underestimate how emotionally draining it can be when supporting a grieving person. Make sure you take care of yourself too.

For more information visit www.cruse.org.uk

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