My partner died. Then my brother. Here’s what not to say to someone who is grieving

We are hardwired to say these things when someone dies because otherwise, it would be too much. Human nature is to put boundaries around the loss, so we know it’s something that happens to other people. We say that they’re in a better place or to just remember the good times, because if we spoke the truth – that tragedy comes for us all, that sometimes life is random and cruel and painful and beyond comprehension – I mean, how would we even function? So, we speak in platitudes. They roll off our tongue. But they don’t help the person who is grieving; they exist to comfort the person on the other side of the loss, those bearing witness to the grief.

“I could never …” people say to those who continue to put one foot in front of the other, as if we have some choice in the matter. Yet it’s just another attempt at “othering” the person. I was no more prepared for my life to implode than anyone else. I was no stronger, braver, more equipped to manage the situation. We position those grieving as somehow superhuman, which is easier than acknowledging that there is nothing more intrinsically human than grief.

Read more in the Guardian.

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