What Do I Say?


I have a confession…I still don’t know what to say to someone who’s experienced loss. Having lost my husband, you would think I’d know what to say, but all I know are the words and actions that most comforted me. During these challenging times, it’s important to remember we’re all different in how we grieve and process loss. While there may be common patterns in grief, everyone internalizes loss uniquely based on their own beliefs, personalities, thoughts, and past experiences. This is why I don’t always know exactly what to say to comfort someone who has lost a loved one.

Here is what I do know based on my experience over the past three years. I know sometimes just being in the presence of someone who’s lost a loved one can be comforting to them because it may help them feel less alone. Less is more when it comes to the words we speak to those who are grieving. I try to listen more than I speak. I refrain from trying to fix it with advice, examples of my past experiences, or my words of encouragement because what they are going through isn’t fixable.

Over the past few years and most recently the past few weeks, I’ve watched as several friends faced some seriously challenging times and my heart’s been broken over their losses. I found myself in a place of not knowing what to say and needing to take time to gather my thoughts before reaching out to them. It’s reminded me of what I mentioned above— everyone grieves differently. Some want to process it privately with their family for a season, some want to talk or write about it in order to process their emotions, and some are a mix of the two. There are those who want you to pray over them in person or over the phone, while others need time to spiritually process privately. Some want to be hugged while others don’t want to be touched. I think for most of us, our loss is a sensitive topic, so when someone brings it up or we’re talking about it, we want the subject to be handled gently with respect and care. We all have a mental list of things that were said to us that we can never imagine saying to someone else because it felt insensitive. And even though we know people mean well, words are powerful.

The truth is, nothing we say to someone else who’s lost a loved one will ever change their pain. All I ever wanted to know was someone cared about my husband, me, and my family. Some of the most memorable comments were I’m sorry for your loss. I’ve been praying for your family. How are you doing? These words always make me feel cared for, but again, there is no one size fits all situation when it comes to grief and loss. At the end of the day, we all want to know others love and care about us.

Because of our individuality I want to know…

What comments encouraged you and made you feel cared about when you were going through a challenging time?

Thank you for engaging in meaningful conversations with me. Connecting with you is a highlight of my week! Love and Blessings.

PS – My speaking schedule is picking up for the fall! In fact, I spoke this week at The Flower Mound Texas Chamber of Commerce! If you are looking to inspire, challenge, and encourage a group, company, or church you are a part of, I’d love to come share! Please shoot me an email at [email protected]. Looking forward to connecting with you!

PPS- Special thanks to Taylor Lord http://www.taylorlord.com/and Fotolanthropy https://fotolanthropy.com/ for the picture.

2 Responses to “What Do I Say?”

  1. Mark Heard

    I told Eric and Andrew while in Seminary that what you say is not as important as just being there for people so they know you care. It is the loneliness of the crisis that crushes you.

    • Bailey Heard

      Such wisdom Mark. Thanks so much for sharing. Ellie and I love you with all of our hearts.