What to say
What to say to someone who’s been widowed (and what not to say)
In her book – “If there’s anything I can do... How to help someone who has been bereaved” – WAY’s former Chairman Caroline Doughty has gathered some of the best things to say (and not to say) to someone who’s been widowed.
Here are the best things you could possibly say to someone who has been widowed:
- I’m so very sorry
- I can only imagine how hard it is/how awful you feel
- I remember when... tell stories about the person who died
- I miss him/her too
- They’d be really proud of you
- You’re doing a great job
- Spend Sunday with us, we’d love to have you over
- I’d like to do something to help – give me a job
- Shall I come round and bring dinner with me?
- I’ll do the driving
- I’m going to take the children out for the whole day
And here are the top things not to say to someone who’s been widowed, and why:
- I know how you feel
Unless you’ve been widowed too, you simply don’t know how it feels
- When my uncle died/when my granny got cancer/when I got divorced etc.
It’s just not the same
- Call me if you need anything
Your friend won’t be able to ask for help unless you offer something more concrete
- You’re being so brave
Your friend is just getting on with it...
- You have to move on/get on with it/you should put your grief away
Everyone grieves differently and it may take longer than you’d expect
- You should be resting, taking it easy, being kind to yourself
How? When you have a house to run, and maybe a living to earn and children to care for
And an extra one that many WAY members hear:
- At least your mortgage has been paid off
Many people labour under the misapprehension that widows and widowers must be rolling in it after cashing in their partner’s life insurance. The reality is often very different. Many widows and widowers struggle financially. And no amount of money can compensate for losing the person you love.
- Helpful tips from Care for the Family about what to say - and not to say - to someone who's been bereaved.
- Is there anything I can do... How to help someone who has been bereaved - a book by Caroline Doughty (White Ladder Press).
- Here's an article in The Guardian about Caroline Doughty’s book.
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