It is normal to not know what to say to a person who is grieving. Reach out anyway. Saying the ‘wrong thing’ is far better than silence. Ignorant comments most likely mean that the person doesn’t know what it’s like to carry grief – which makes me happy. I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone. As for what to say:
Good: I am so sorry for your loss (condolences)
Better: I am so sorry for your loss, this is so unfair (condolences + validation)
Best: I am so sorry for your loss, this is so unfair. Remember the time <insert memory here> (condolences + validation + memory)
However, grief is all consuming and exhausting so don’t expect a response.
2. Grief is not a time for silver linings. If you are talking to a person grieving, and your sentence starts with ‘at least’, please rethink what you are about to say. Losing someone IS THE WORST. There is no ‘at least’ that will make the situation any better. Rather than looking for a silver lining - just give them validation.
3. There isn’t a quota on how much loss one person will endure. While my husband was fighting for his life in the hospital, I received the news that my sister had died the day before. I exhaled and naively thought that since she died there was no way my husband would die too. I was wrong. I lost two people in two days. Despite my overwhelming grief, I am not safe from losing other people in my life.
4. Every death will warrant different grief. My grief for my husband is more ‘simple’ whereas my grief for my sister is more complex. I have concluded that this largely depends on how the person died, how close you were to them, and where you are emotionally in life.
5. I think we could agree that I am living most people’s worst nightmare. Even still, I can hear of other people’s tragedies and think, ‘I cannot even imagine’. Whether it is hearing of someone losing a child, being diagnosed with cancer, or losing everything to a natural disaster, my heart breaks for them.
About Angela Mencl
Angela unexpectedly found herself submerged into a life stained with grief after losing her husband and sister one day apart. She became a widow and single mother of four at the young age of 30. She has been determined to create the most beautiful plan B - starting by packing up and moving states away to be near family to have support as she navigates her new normal. Her grief was too much to bear alone so she turned outward and created an Instagram platform to work through her grief and help others. Angela's raw posts expose untold stories of grief and allows people to truly see how grief penetrates someone's life. Angela’s vulnerability and authenticity is the true embodiment of a lovely lion heart.