Conversation Tips & Tricks:
You first. These conversations carry a lot of weight and you aren’t expected to be an expert. If you aren’t comfortable talking with someone about their grief, it’s ok to use the following language to offer resources and then get the conversation back on topic.
“You were brave to share what you’re going through with me. I’m here for you. I also want to make sure you have access to resources that may have more expertise. Would you allow me to share a few resources that might be helpful?”
“I’m hearing how hard this has been. Those feelings are valid and I want to help get the support you need, but I might not be the best person to help. Can I share a few resources with you?”
Let them feel. People who are grieving may experience a variety of emotions including shock, sadness, anger, anxiety and loneliness. Allow them the space to share where they are with you.
“I’m here for you. Whatever you are feeling, and whenever you are feeling it, it’s okay.”
Avoid platitudes. While tempting to want to find silver linings with phrases like “they’re in a better place” or “it’s all part of God’s plan,” it’s rarely helpful to the person grieving and they may not share the same beliefs. Rather than asking someone to look towards the bright side, instead allow them the space to feel all of their tough emotions.
Ask about suicide. If you suspect someone grieving is thinking about suicide, don’t be afraid to ask. Refer to the suicide tipsheet for further guidance.
“It sounds like you’re feeling intense grief. Sometimes when people feel that way they have thoughts of ending their life. Have you experienced any of those thoughts?”
Offer resources. It’s important to connect with professionals or helplines who are able to support people grieving. Utilize one or more of the above resources to ensure folks get a higher level of care when needed.
“You were brave to share what’s been going on with me. I’m here for you. I also want to make sure you have access to resources that may have more expertise in connecting you with help. Would you allow me to share a few resources that might be helpful?”