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.

Written by External Article
Everyone is talking about caregiving, but it can still be difficult to find meaningful information and real stories that go deep. We read (and listen to and watch and look at) the best content about caregiving and bring you a curated selection. Have a great story about caregiving? Use our contact form to submit it to us so we can share it with the community!

Related Articles

The Vanishing Family

The Vanishing Family

Susan, the third-born, volunteered to take care of Christy full time, and Jenny, the eighth, searched for a specialist (the family members asked to...

The ‘grief window’ and other myths…

The ‘grief window’ and other myths…

I’m 37-years-old now and I can see that was as impossible as raising my mum from the ground (or, more accurately, gathering up her ashes and gluing...

Popular categories

After Caregiving
Finding Meaning
Finding Support

Don't see what you're looking for? Search the library

Share your thoughts


Share your thoughts and experiences

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join our communities

Whenever you want to talk, there’s always someone up in one of our Facebook communities.

These private Facebook groups are a space for support and encouragement — or getting it off your chest.

Join our newsletter

Thoughts on care work from Cori, our director, that hit your inbox each Monday morning (more-or-less).

There are no grand solutions, but there are countless little ways to make our lives better.

Share your insights

Caregivers have wisdom and experience to share. Researchers, product developers, and members of the media are eager to understand the nature of care work and make a difference.

We have a group specifically to connect you so we can bring about change.