When someone you know is grieving, it is human nature to try and comfort the person and help ease their pain. But sometimes, our good intention can be more harmful than helpful.

The goal of expressing sympathy is to offer your compassion and concern for the bereaved. But let’s face it. It can be hard to know just what to say and what not to say.

I listed down some of the things you shouldn’t say to a grieving person when offering condolences.

I know how you feel

No two griefs are the same. Even if you experienced a loss of a loved one, do not assume you know how they feel. You might be able to relate to the grieving person’s pain, but it doesn’t mean that you know how the person feels.

This may seem like an empathic statement, but it can often have the opposite effect. Sometimes, it can lead to feelings of anger toward that person. Instead of saying, “I know how you feel”. Let the person know that you are thinking about them and that you’ll include them in your prayers.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help

I understand that you want to be of help, but you can’t expect the person to reach out to you. They won’t.

The bereaved are willing to accept support, but it has to be specific rather than a wide-open offer. Say something like, “I’ll come over tomorrow to do a few loads of laundry or watch over the kids”.

They are in a much better place

On a mental level, there might be some solace knowing that their loved one is in a “better” place, but you also need to consider how the person feels emotionally. In some cases, hearing someone say this can lead to anger and resentment.

Maybe it was for the best

Death is incredibly difficult, no matter the form it takes. It’s not helpful for someone who is grieving to hear that losing a loved one is best for them.

Acknowledge that what they’re going through right now is painful. The person may not be suffering anymore, but their loved one is experiencing pain at the moment.