"Twenty-five years after our teenage son died of cancer, we still remember the kind words and acts of family, friends, and acquaintances. Even the smallest gesture still resonates today. I share this to encourage you. You may fear saying the wrong thing, but saying something always beats saying nothing at all. Here are a few words of advice on what to say to someone who’s grieving:
Say something. Show up: A handwritten note. Dropping off an easy-to-prepare meal. Attending the memorial. Sharing a memory of the deceased. However expressed, your personal contribution will be felt.
Just listen: Give the mourner space to express their feelings openly. They may or may not feel comfortable doing this, and you may face an awkward silence or tears. It’s OK. It’s important to acknowledge their feelings and share, however briefly, in their pain.
Let grief be: Don’t try to make it go away with cliched phrases like “time will heal.” Nor is it time to offer suggestions like a good therapist or your favorite sleep aids. Your greatest gift is just being there to give emotional support.
Check in: In the immediate aftermath of a death, families receive a lot of attention. But the world around them soon moves on. You can make a difference by continuing to offer your support in the months and years to come."