Shut up, when others grieve!

Two friends sitting together at sunset

Yesterday I went to the home of a friend who had lost her father. I sat in silence and let her cry.

One of the silliest things I have seen at a funeral is someone going across to the bereaved party, holding his or her hand and telling them not to worry, everything will be alright!

Everything will be alright?

Can you imagine what the grieved person feels when you say the death of a loved one is going to be made alright in the twinkling of an eye? So often we don’t understand how trivial we make of someone who is grieving. Sometimes instead of such ordinary words of comfort it is best we leave a grieving person without such silly words. So, how do you comfort those who mourn?

Experts tell us, among other things, to simply say, “I’m sorry” or “I love you.” Often, the less said the better, so long as you are present, you care and you listen.

American poet, Edgar Guest, told of a neighbour by the name of Jim Potter. Mr Potter ran the medical store near where Guest lived. Mostly they smiled and exchanged greetings when they happened to see one another.

One tragic night the poet’s firstborn child died. He felt overcome with grief. Several days after the death, Edgar had reason to go to the drug store run by his neighbour.

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Robert Clements
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Robert Clements

Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist with an estimated readership of 6 million. He also conducts a short-term writer’s course. Contact him on for more details.