My Grief Care

Foundations Of Grief

14 Episodes

Episode 7 : When Caring People Say Dumb Things When You’re Grieving


Episode Notes

When Caring People Say Dumb Things When You're Grieving

It’s common that those around us can say things we find insensitive or hurtful in our time of pain. Let’s look at why this happens and what you can do about it.

One of the first things I realized after my husband died, was that some of the people that cared about me were going to say some really unhelpful and even hurtful things. Maybe you have experienced that too. I remember thinking, “You didn’t really just say that to me, did you?” and “How could you imagine that what you just said helped me?”

First, let’s take a look at why this happens. Many people have not lost someone close. They haven’t experienced grief so they know nothing about it. And society hasn’t taught us anything about it, either, so they just don’t understand.

Second, people hate to see us hurting. They aren’t comfortable and want to fix it, so they say things that they think will make us feel better, when they may make us feel worse.

Have you heard any of these?

Time heals all wounds.

They are in a better place.

At least you have other children.

God will never give you more than you can handle.

I don’t think you’re grieving right.

You need to read this book or do this . . . 

Isn’t it time to get rid of their things?

You should start dating again.

It’s time for you to move on.

I know how you feel. 

I heard people say, “at least he went fast,” and “at least you have a good marriage,” I tell people that anything that starts with “at least” should never be said.  Even if these comments are true, they aren’t helpful because grief is all about the heart – not intellect.

There are two things I would like you to consider when you get disappointed or frustrated with people: their intentions and their past. Most people really care about you, and they don’t want to see you hurting, and they are uncomfortable with your pain, so they say stupid things, not realizing that they are stupid. But usually, their intentions are good.

Before you write them off or think about how insensitive they are and get bitter and resentful, I would like you to remember whether they have been there for you in the past when you needed them. I bet many of them have. But grief is something foreign to them and so this may be where they let you down. If they have been there for you in the past, please keep that in mind as you react to them. They may need some grace. And you can help them out by kindly telling them what you need, or that what they are saying or doing is not helpful.  Don’t feel like you have to educate everyone on grief, as that can be exhausting, but maybe you can help those that are close to you.

The other thing that helped me was remembering how I responded to grieving people prior to the loss of my husband. I would have said and done many of the things my friends and family did. I avoided people because I didn’t know what to say and I thought they weren’t getting over it fast enough and I am now horrified for thinking that way. But how can someone understand it until they have experienced this depth of pain?

I recommend, if you can find a couple of close people to share your heart with, that’s great. You may decide to guard yourself a bit with the rest of those around you- and that’s okay. You will lower your expectations of them and not be as sensitive to their words or actions.

This is also why I love good support groups where you can be in a community of people who can relate to you and you can be real and honest with. One of the favorite things we did in my grief support group and in my grief recovery groups is share stupid comments people have said to us, and we laugh because we are in it together. It is shocking to hear what comes out of some people’s mouths.

Your support system is important because you are going to need support for a long time, and we can’t expect our friends to always understand us or be there. They can tire out over time, so we need to have various means of receiving support. Make sure you look at developing your grief tool kit.

Check out our episodes The Grief Letter and What to Say to Others, as they discuss ways to help your friends understand and support you. There are so many things you can do to help your friends and family understand and help you.


  1. If friends or family have let you down, why do you think that is? Is it because they don’t care, or is it that they don’t understand, or they feel awkward?
  2. Are there people who are letting you down that have always been there for you in the past? They are more than this one letdown; look at the whole relationship.
  3. How did you respond to grieving friends prior to your loss?
  4. Are there any toxic people around you that are causing you pain? These relationships may need reevaluating.


How can we expect people to understand something they have no experience with? Look at their hearts and help them help you by kindly sharing what you need. Do not assume they should or would get it on their own. I know I didn’t. Please help them.