‘Stay Strong,’ And Other Useless Drivel We Tell The Grieving by Megan Devine gave constructive context surrounding common phrases we say to those who are grieving. What are the rules of grieving? The author uses the Parklawn shooting as an illustration. The students are told to stay strong, then criticized for being angry. As humans, we are assured things will get better when going through a tough trial in our lives. But in the moment, all we can usually see is the hard time we are currently experiencing.

What not to say to people who are grieving

I was skeptical of articles that promoted or condemned what is appropriate verbiage for any occasion, whether for a wedding, graduation, or a funeral. I did what my millennial mind did best: searched the internet.

Along with Devine’s article, I found “10 Things You Should Never Say to a Grieving Person” by Tom Fuerst. Though I could understand why a bulk of the phrases were insensitive, I was irked by the general phrases “how are you doing” or “anything I can do for you” present on the list.

Scrolling through the comments, they were pretty split, but one brought revelation. It suggested spectators of those grieving should control their words more carefully than forcing the grieving – those directly affected by the death – to accept whatever words we give them when their emotions are likely out of control. That truly made me realize how selfish my outlook had been. The same author also followed-up with an article of 10 Things You Should Say.

This article could not have been more timely. The following weekend at a bridal shower,  we laughed, shared memories, and cried joyfully with the bride-to-be when a bridesmaid received an urgent phone call. Her mother was suddenly hospitalized. A few days later, she passed away, leaving all stunned.

As the funeral planning began, I took these articles to heart. The bride-to-be and I asked specific questions such as if we could make her dinner, clean her home, etc.  When it came time for the service and the receiving line, we hugged her, then collectively shed tears with no words needed.

Afterward, our friend sent us a text saying thank you for being there. Being present meant more than anything. She asked for some space, for she had spearheaded funeral planning for her family. We made concrete plans for the following week to cook her dinner, clean, and spend time with one another.

Have you struggled with what to say to others, or didn’t know how to communicate your wants and needs during a time of loss? Let us know.


Everdays is designed as a solution to help make communication around a passing less burdensome so that you can focus on what matters most.