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What to say to grieving friends — and four common comments to avoid

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Most of us have been there.

You’re speaking with a heartbroken family or friend and you just want to say the right thing to help them in their grief.

But the words can be hard to find.

Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg today talked Neil Mitchell through dealing with grief, and the dos and don’ts when it comes to words of comfort.


  • I am so sorry for your loss.
  • I wish I had the right words, but just know that I care.
  • I don’t know how you feel but I’m here to help in any way I can.
  • My favourite memory of your loved one is…
  • I’m a phone call away.

“And sometimes saying nothing and just giving them a hug can help as well,” he said.


  • “I know how you feel”: No, you don’t. Loss is an incredibly personal experience.
  • “They’re in a better place”: You should never assume someone’s religious beliefs.
  • “How are you doing?”: That’s not helpful because the grieving person thinks you want them to say ‘I’m OK’, and so that’s what they say whether or not they are OK.
  • “You’re handling this much better than I expected”: It implies being stoic is the best way to deal with things.

Click PLAY for the full conversation