What to say when people say...


There can be lots of hard or awkward conversations when you're grieving. People around you may not know what to say, or they may think (or hope!) they're being helpful. Here are some ways that grieving youth have suggested getting out of those conversations.

Someone asked about my person and I don’t know how to say that they’ve died. What can I say?

If you can’t bring yourself to say it out loud, you could send it as a text message. If you are ready to tell them, say “unfortunately (name of person) is no longer with us” or something along those lines. After you say it out loud, it may be difficult to keep your composure so take a deep breath and, if you need to, tell the person you need to be alone for a minute or excuse yourself so you can be alone or go for a quick walk. If you don’t want to talk about it when you’ve finished saying it, kindly ask them “can we talk about something else?” If you do feel comfortable with the person, talk about the memories that you have of your person.

Do it in a way you’re comfortable with. Some people can be straight up and say “they’ve died” or others may rather say” they’ve passed”

“That person isn’t in my life anymore.”

You don’t have to say anything if you aren’t ready to. However, if you are ready you could say “they’ve unfortunately passed away (or “died”), but I’ve been getting by.”

Someone asked how my person died and I don’t want to talk about it. What can I say?

If you feel comfortable sharing with that person, explain it to them as much or as little as you want. If you feel partially comfortable, tell them something generic, for example: health issues, an accident or mental health troubles.

“This person was sick and there was nothing that could have been done.”

Be direct and explain what happened if you feel comfortable.

Someone said something hurtful (maybe without realizing, maybe on purpose).

If it was unintentional, say something like “I don’t appreciate what you said, I don’t know if you meant it or not but that was pretty hurtful.” Then, either explain why you found it hurtful or tell them not to say things like that again. On the other hand, if it was on purpose, say something like “was that really necessary?” “Does that make you feel better about yourself?” or “why would you say that?” If they try to explain their actions, correct them. After that, if they do it again, avoid seeing them for awhile as your mental health is more important than receiving mean and hurtful comments from those who are supposed to be there for you.

Tell them straight up that it was hurtful. Educate that person on what they said wrong and why.

“I am not sure if what you said was intentional or not, but it hurt my feelings. I would prefer if you didn’t say that again.”

“That actually upset me, please keep that to yourself next time.”

“I don’t think you should talk about someones personal life like that, it can really hurt someone.”

Someone asked how my person died. I want to tell them, but don’t know what to say?

If you don’t feel comfortable at all, say, “I would rather not talk about it”, “can we talk about something else? I don’t feel up to talking about it right now” or “I just can’t bring myself to say it, I’m sorry. Can we talk about this another time?”

“It’s hard for me to explain.”

I would say “I’m just not quite ready to talk about it,” or “I’m not wanting to talk about it right now, but maybe another time.”

You can say, “I don’t really feel comfortable talking about it right now” and thank them for respecting your privacy.

Someone is giving me unwanted advice about grief. What can I say?

There are several options here: simply hear them out, have no reaction, this might give them a hint. You could politely explain that you know how it feels to experience grief. Tell them “thank you but I’m figuring it out on my own.” Sometimes people unintentionally give unwanted advice and in that case, you can reassure them by saying: “I understand first hand what grief is like, but I’m sure that you’ve experienced it in other ways, too, and your feelings are valid.”

You can say “thank you but I don’t wanna hear it.” I believe being honest and straight forward is the best way to be.

“Thank you for trying to give me advice, but I don’t really need any at the moment.”

“I appreciate that you care and are willing to give advice, but I have a lot of people telling me similar things and its becoming overwhelming. I would prefer if you respected that and kept it to yourself.”

“I appreciate you are trying to help, but truthfully I don’t believe this advice applies to me, thank you though!”

I just need to get out of this conversation but I don’t want to be rude. What can I say?

“I need to get going” “Excuse me” “I need to use the washroom” “Sorry, I need to take this call” “I actually need to go now, can we talk later?” “I just realized, I have somewhere that I need to be, talk soon”

“This conversation is getting really heavy for me, wanna talk about something else?”

“Thank you so much for the conversation but I really should get going.”

“I need to remove myself from this conversation its becoming very stressful.”

“I’m sorry for cutting the conversation short I’m just not looking to talk about this right now.”