Sadly death is a part of life and so is grief. But some people make terrible mistakes when trying to comfort a person experiencing grief. In this social psychology podcast episode, we’ll look at what you should and shouldn’t say to someone. A great psychology podcast episode!
This episode has been sponsored by Social Psychology: A Guide to Social and Cultural Psychology. Available on all major eBook retailers and you can get the paperback, large print and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore or local library.
What to Say to Someone When Someone’s Died?
Whilst of course nothing on the podcast is ever any sort of official advice, I hope the things mentioned in today’s episode will help you later in life.
Also you probably want to listen to the podcast episode as I’ll add some more personal stories there.
“They’ll be missed,”
Even though this is such a simple little phrase to say to someone who’s grieving. It’s still very powerful because it shows that the grieving person isn’t alone. And there are other people who are grieving as well.
Linking this to social psychology, this all comes back to feeling apart of a social group. And as we know social groups provide us with support. Which in turn helps maintain our mental health.
Therefore, by saying this little phrase, you’re making the grieving person feel a part of a group and they aren’t alone in their grief. As well as you’re helping them to maintain their mental health as well.
Which is always good!
Personally, I remember this one a lot when my Great Uncle died because there were a lot people grieving and upset. Which in a way it did help because all of us knew we were not alone in our suffering and emotional pain. As well as we knew (and did) talk to each other about our grief. So it did help.
“I remember When…”
I do rather like this point because friends and family members telling each other stories and memories of the deceased is a great way to cope. Because you can remember them and honour their memory.
Also if the family member had a little quirk then you can remember that and share stories about it.
For example, my late Grandma she always tapped people on the arm when she spoke. Well if you were family. So, it’s a long running joke between my parents and I about occasionally tapping my mum on the tap. Since it was my mum who noticed it first.
The point being- all these shared memories, stories and jokes can help to person alive and it can make grieving people feel better.
“Let me Bring Dinner…”
At first, I wasn’t too sure on this point but this section is all about offering practical help to the grieving person. Since the problem with asking the grieving person how to help, what can you do amongst other things is this can place an undue burden on them. which of course we don’t want to do. we don’t know to burden them anymore than they already are.
Therefore, if you offer to a few possibilities then the grieving person can decide quickly and
Also this does depend on your relationship. For instance, if your best friend offers to look after your children then you’ll probably say yes. If you’re estranged uncle offered you would probably say no. I know I would.
Overall, the point is if you want to be helpful to the grieving person. Take the initiative.
What Not to Say to Someone Grieving:
Personally, I love this next psychology section because we need to talk about what not to say to someone is a grieving.
This is such a silly thing to say. For example, “At least they’re in a better place,”
The problem with saying this is yes you are trying to be nice and empathise with the grieving person. But the problem is, is that this downplays the loss.
Due to “at least,” makes it sound or imply that the deceased person is better off and there’s no reason to grieve for them.
So, I really wouldn’t recommend saying this.
Granted, I hear this a lot when my Great Uncle died but it was never the most welcoming or best things to say. I always enjoyed the “I remember when…” points.
“It’s God’s Plan,”
I absolutely hate this.
Of course, if you’re part of religious community then this is fine and it might be a good idea to offer spiritual guidance. But if you are not part of such a community, this is typically a very bad idea.
I am not anti-religion but that argument or that point is so insensitive and it basically says to the grieving person.
“You need to stop grieving. This is a part of the Plan so please let God continue and you need to pull yourself together and fulfil your part,”
And in a more general sense, saying this undermines the effects this has on the family and friends who are grieving.
“I know how you feel,”
We have all definitely said this at one point or another and whilst at first this seems like a great thing to say to someone. In reality, this is not the best thing to say.
Simply because whilst it may seem like you’re trying to help them and empathise with the grieving person. You’re actually shifting the centre of their grief to you and not the person
you’re trying to help.
Also on a personal note, whenever I hear this or when someone says it to me. I know they’re trying to be nice but I tend to think:
No you don’t. I’m sorry but you aren’t me. You were as close as I was to my (insert name here) so please don’t pretend you know how I feel. Hell, I don’t know how I feel!
You get the idea.
What to Say to Someone When Someone’s Died? Conclusion
In conclusion, there is no one way to grieve because everyone is different and we all very different coping mechanisms. But I really hope you got something out of today’s psychology podcast episode.
If you want to learn more, please check out:
Social Psychology: A Guide to Social and Cultural Psychology. Available on all major eBook retailers and you can get the paperback, large print and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore or local library.
Have a great day everyone.
Social Psychology Reference
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