“I want to help my friend, but I don’t know what to say”.

I am often asked for advice, “Michelle, I want to say something to my friend who has experienced a death, but I don’t know what to say. What should I start with?”.

Questions that I have been asked along my widowed grief journey, such as “how are you going with grief missing Nathan?” have been questions that I have appreciated. Questions containing direct and factual language, especially in my early grief journeys, validated my grief experience, and demonstrated that the person speaking to me was interested in how I was going, on a meaningful level.
A meaningful connection where I was living in a world of isolating grief!

The impact was hugely positive and brought me hope.
It also felt good that people were naming Nathan. Naming Nathan was remembering who he was as a person, and valuing his awesome life.
It still is.

I will add in here, that cultural considerations must be made. It is not always culturally appropriate to name a person who has died. But if you have a trusting relationship, you can make the decision from there.

The Grief Language Project® provides practical examples of how we can use appropriate language to support someone who has experienced a bereavement, and is likely to be processing grief.