18 Terrible Phrases You Should Never Say to Someone Who’s Grieving

Losing a loved one makes you feel a crippling pain that prevents you from feeling joy and comfort. So, during such a difficult time, it’s important to offer support and guidance to those who are grieving. However, sometimes, even well-intentioned words can inadvertently cause more pain. To help you navigate these trying times, we’ve gathered the top 18 things you should never say to a grieving friend or family member.

“You’ll Get Over This in Time.”

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Saying this to someone who’s grieving may be considered insensitive. After all, while you may move on and start to suppress your sadness and loneliness, you’ll never be able to fully move on from the death of someone you hold dear. Saying this to a person who has just lost someone can be extra harmful, as the grief they’re currently feeling may be all-consuming.

“How Are You Holding Up?”

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We know that you might genuinely mean well when you ask this question. However, have you ever considered how to respond to the person grieving when they answer you and say they aren’t okay? The truth might be too heavy for you to handle, and if you leave them hanging, they may feel even worse than before you talked to them.

“I Know How You Feel.”

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You may have experienced loss before. However, that doesn’t mean you know exactly how the other person feels; you don’t see how deep their bond goes, nor how important the person who died truly is to the other. Verywell Mind shares, “Just as not all people feel joy in the same way, not everyone feels pain in the same way. There is not a hierarchy of emotion that says that one person’s feelings are better or worse, stronger or weaker than someone else’s.”

“God Has a Plan for Them.”

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People who are grieving are already questioning what had just happened. They might even already be asking why God allowed something this tragic to happen to their lives. So, saying something like, “God has a plan for them,” can only be considered insensitive or alienating.

“Everything Happens for a Reason.”

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Everything happens for a reason—yes, that’s true. However, at this point in time, this is the last thing a grieving person wants to hear. After all, what kind of reason would be acceptable for someone they love so deeply to pass away? Some even believe that this phrase is one of the best-known examples of toxic positivity.

“You Need to Move On.”

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The grief of losing someone you love can’t be controlled with a switch that you can turn on and off. Additionally, Thrive Global explains that when you say this to someone, it’s like you’re rejecting their emotional pain. This messes up a person’s healing process, making them feel even more lost and in pain.

“Time Heals All Wounds.”

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When someone is sad because they lost someone or something important, saying, “Time heals all wounds,” can make them feel like their pain doesn’t matter and that they should move on quickly. But everyone feels and deals with sadness differently, so it’s important to acknowledge and understand what they’re going through. Instead of saying this, offer your support and let them know you’re there for them without expecting them to feel better by a certain time. Doing so can help them feel comforted, understood, and supported, especially during these trying times.

“You Need to Be Strong for Yourself and Others.”

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Telling a grieving person that they should “be strong for themselves and others” might be a form of invalidating their emotions, pushing them to hide what they truly feel. Instead, it’s essential to let them know it’s okay to feel sad and show others they’re unhappy. Remember, people grieve in different ways. While you might not be a crier, the person you’re supposedly trying to comfort might be, and they might need to let their emotions out.

“They’re in a Better Place Now.”

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While you might think you’re genuinely soothing or comforting a grieving person by saying this line, it actually does more harm than good. You might actually be reminding them that their loved one is no longer around. Caring Bridge also believes that words like this can come across as dismissive of their pain and grief.

“Remember the Good Times You Had With Them.”

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When someone is grieving, it’s natural to want to offer words of comfort. However, telling them to “remember the good times” with their loved ones might not always be the best approach. While recalling happy memories is nice, grief is complex and multifaceted. People who are grieving might need to feel all their emotions, including sadness, anger, and loneliness, so it’s essential to recognize that everyone processes grief differently and to offer support and understanding during this difficult time.

“At Least They’re Free From Suffering.”

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Telling someone who is grieving, “At least they’re free from suffering,” is not comforting in any way. Although the person who passed may not be suffering anymore, it doesn’t reduce the pain of losing them. Additionally, even if you say this years after their loss, it could still be a reminder of their grief, and it might possibly reawaken their pain. Mayo Clinic News Network says, “Even years after a loss, you might continue to feel sadness when you’re confronted with reminders of your loved one’s death.”

“They Lived a Full Life.”

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Though this statement might be true, it doesn’t change the fact that they are now gone. Saying something like this to someone grieving just further hurts them and aggravates their pain. The person they lost may have lived a full, long life, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re currently grieving their loss.

“At Least Your Other Kids Are Still Here.”

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No parent who has lost a child wants to hear this from anyone. Yes, they might have other kids that are still alive. However, the fact still remains that they lost their child—someone who’s their flesh and blood. The only thing that would make them feel better is if all their kids are happy, safe, and healthy.

“It Was Their Time to Go.”

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Aside from being insensitive, telling a grieving person this statement is just another platitude that isn’t appreciated. The State Journal-Register explains, “They are just trite, convenient expressions that we have learned to utter in the face of the most awkward of all social situations. They get us through the line and out the door without being touched by the grief others are feeling.” When you don’t know what to say, it’s better to say nothing and give the person a hug or a squeeze of a hand.

“They’d Want You to Be Happy.”

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When someone is grieving, telling them things like, “They’d want you to be happy,” might unintentionally make them feel like they have to hide their sadness and grief. You might also make them feel as if they’re not allowed to mourn properly. Remember that sadness after loss is normal, and people mourn differently. Given this, remember that offering support and understanding is more helpful than pressuring them to feel a certain way.

“You’re Still Young; You Have Plenty of Time to Find Love Again.”

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Cruse Bereavement Support notes, “It’s not always easy to understand that it is possible to love and miss someone while having room to be happy and involved with someone new.” People who are currently grieving are closed off to this feeling. So, even implying that they can find love again will be insensitive and hurtful to anyone going through the pain of loss.

“I’m Impressed by How Well You’re Managing.”

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More often than not, grieving people who appear to be okay on the outside are most probably just faking it or hiding behind a smile. However, pretending to be alright can be very exhausting, especially when you’re in such a bad mental headspace. When you say something like, “I’m impressed by how well you’re managing,” or, “You’re handling this better than expected,” you might make them feel like they should stop feeling sad. In reality, they should have time to process or feel their emotions.

“Everyone Dies Eventually.”

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The statement trivializes a person’s loss and disregards their pain in multiple ways. When you say something like this, you fail to acknowledge the depth and uniqueness of the relationship or bond they had with the person who had passed away. Aside from this, saying, “Everyone dies eventually,” can come across as something very detached, insensitive, and dismissive.

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Author: Karen Danao


Karen is a writer and also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, she is someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics she loves writing about! However, her true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.