What to and what not to say to those bereaved

Bereavement, the process of coping with the loss of a loved one, is a deeply personal and emotional journey. Friends, family, and informal support providers often play a crucial role in comforting the bereaved during this difficult time.

However, a recent study sheds light on a concerning aspect of this support system. The research, which involved in-depth interviews with bereaved parents and service providers, reveals some well-intentioned but insensitive remarks commonly made by people attempting to console the grieving.

What NOT to say

  • Religious explanations such as “It was God’s will” or “God wanted another angel” were mentioned as unhelpful and sometimes hurtful. The study suggests that individuals should consider the bereaved person’s level of religiosity before offering religious explanations

  • Comparing one’s grief to that of others or making inappropriate comparisons,was also cited as unhelpful. Such comparisons can minimize the unique pain experienced by the bereaved and fail to provide the comfort intended.

  • Participants expressed frustration when people offered unsolicited advice.Bereaved parents often felt that these suggestions were an attempt to divert their attention from their grief, which was not always welcomed.

  • Lastly, insensitive remarks often implied an expectation of a quick recovery. Comments like “You’ll be a lot better once you get through Christmas” or “It’s been six months; aren’t you better yet?” were perceived as insensitive and dismissive of the grieving process.

It’s important to note that the study participants recognized that those who made insensitive remarks did not intend to be hurtful. Instead, they were trying to offer comfort and support but lacked the understanding of how their words might affect the bereaved. This emphasizes the importance of education and awareness regarding effective ways to console those who are grieving.

What TO say

  • Consistently, participants spoke about the importance of non-judgmental support from family, friends, spouses, and employers. Those who had access to such support found it invaluable. It helped them feel less isolated and lonely during a profoundly challenging time. Local bereavement services and peer-support groups also played a crucial role in providing validation for their feelings and allowing them to share their experiences with others who understood their grief.

  • For some bereaved parents, returning to work provided structure and routine, which they found helpful. The support of co-workers also contributed to their healing process. For those who didn’t have work to provide structure, they either created routines or expressed a desire for employment to prevent excessive dwelling on their loss.

  • Participants highlighted the significance of practical assistance from their support networks, such as help with childcare, funeral arrangements, and meal preparation. These acts of kindness reminded them to take care of themselves during a time when they often lacked the energy or motivation to do so.

As a psychology student

If you are interested in helping those affected by loss roles that you could take upon are

  • Bereavemnt councillor
  • Health care assistant
  • Clinical psychologist also help those with developed symptoms from bereavement.

a good way to start getting work experience is by volunteering with charities who help those bereaving.

Find the fully study here


A thought-provoking post.

10th anniversary of my mother’s death coming up - I’m reminded of how brilliant her hospice care was in the last few weeks of her life, and how the staff there helped to give her final days meaning and how they supported me too.


this was very helpful, my friends mother passed away a few months ago and he mentioned his friends support was keeping him going. its great to see tips like this


Understanding how to support those coping with loss is crucial and it’s not easy. I liked how it is highlighted that the delicate balance between offering comfort and inadvertently causes more distress to the bereaved. This was a very helpful post that many should read. It’s hard to know how to deal with things that we are not used to, thanks for sharing this :pray:

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A very useful post that showcases the emotional intelligence required to navigate in such situations :pray: