I know how you feel
To say to someone that you know how they feel is for one thing, probably not true. It also seems to rob the person of their right to how they should feel. Can anyone really understand what another person is feeling like? Probably not so it’s just best not to say it.
You’ll get over it
This seems a bit cold to me because we are offering unsolicited advice. To tell someone that they’ll get over it is somewhat of an insult to them. Give them time to grieve. Grieving is a natural thing to go through. Never tell someone who’s enduring a great lost that they’ll get over it. In fact, do we really ever get over losing someone who is precious in our life?
Keep a Stiff Upper Lip
I don’t know who thought of this expression but I can’t imagine any good time to say this. To tell someone experiencing grief to keep a stiff upper lip is asking someone to do something that they can’t even imagine doing at the time. Let them grieve, let the cry…the healing process takes a lot of time and saying keep a stiff upper lip seems to make them think that they should just be brave and not let it get them down when that is close to impossible. Imagine a person who lost her dear Mother you went to pound yam and say ‘just eat the food! And so what? Funny, it’s not the time to eat friend.
All Things Work together for the Good
I have heard people quote Romans 8:28 which says “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” That verse is true but it really doesn’t help the person who is grieving. It doesn’t seem to fit the situation and even if you think it does, this Bible verse isn’t much help at all for someone who’s lost a loved one.
If we tell someone to not cry, we are basically telling them that they shouldn’t be crying when crying is part of the grieving and healing process. Crying helps us deal with our grief and allows us to release pent up emotions. To try and tell someone not to cry when it’s actually going to help them deal with their loss is to try and impose our beliefs on someone who’s going through something that we are not.
Time Heals All Wounds
Time may help in the long term but it does nothing to help during the time when someone has just suffered a great loss. I lost my older brother many years ago and time has never healed this loss. I have learned to move on and deal with it but time did nothing to take the pain away.
Other things I wouldn’t say is “You’ll get over it, try to be strong, God never gives you more than you can handle, God must have needed another angel, he or she’s in a much better place, or just have faith.” Sometimes not saying anything is best. Just be there for them. Sit quietly and grieve with them. All we might be able to say is “I am so sorry.” When words cannot express our sorrow for someone else, then why use them? Silence may be the only thing that they need. Just being there to support them may be enough.