What to Say (and not) When Others Are Grieving

Blogging is a great way to share about all the wonderful things happening in life. But not everything that people post on the internet is wonderful. Life can also be filled with sadness, deep personal loss, and unimagniable grief. 
I’ve read several posts lately from bloggers that have experienced a miscarriage. For some it’s their first, for others it’s another loss. Each time I read one of these posts I feel sad but also inspired at the strength and courage these women have to share such a personal experience. One thing I started to notice was the comments people left on these posts. Some were touching and heartfelt and others, although well intentioned, were cringeworthy.
I can’t tell you how many times I read, “everything happens for a reason,” “look at all the great things you do have,” “it’ll all work out how it’s supposed to,” etc. I’m sure you’ve heard people say similar things or maybe some of these exact phrases. The one phrase that tends to bother me the most is, everything happens for a reason. People often quote this in hopes that it will comfort or offer reassurance to the person who is grieving. But when someone suffers a terrible loss, this often brings little comfort.

So if the phrase doesn’t actually make people feel better, then why do people continue to say it? One reason is that many believe this is a biblical quote, referencing God’s control over our lives. But even if you read the entire Bible cover to cover, you won’t find this quote because it’s not in there. There’s phrases about God’s plan for us and how he doesn’t want us to suffer, but there’s no quote about everything happening for a reason. I also believe that God gave us all free will and sometimes horrible, tragic, and random things just happen which leads to the other reason that people tend to turn to this canned phrase. As humans it’s in our nature to want to rationalize everything. Everything must have a reason because if it doesn’t, that is scary. And it’s hard for our brains to accept that. So instead of feeling uneasy and scared, we will usually find a reason, divine or not because it feels better when we do

But what if instead of looking for a reason, we search for His goodness instead; for the joy that can come out of a painful loss. What if we look less for the Why and more for the How. How we can glorify Him even through the bad times? 

Now you may be thinking, what do I say when someone around me is grieving? The first thing I do is think about what I would want if I was going through a similar situation. And without a doubt, it would be peace. I would want to feel overwhelming peace. Not to just get over it, or to forget it, or even to move on, but true, calming, peace. Peace with what has happened and with what may or may not happen in the future. The kind of peace that can only come from Him. The Peace that comes with letting go of trying to find a reason and clinging to His goodness instead.  
And when in doubt of what to say, simply tell someone you are sorry. Tell them that you’re thinking of them and praying that they will find peace and comfort, and then actually pray that they do. You can also serve them. Bring them dinner, watch their kids, or just sit with them in silence. And if it’s someone I’m really close to, chocolate, wine, and lots of carbs always seem to help too.


  • P!nky

    I'm with you. When everyone speaks the EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON I just see rationalization, not faith. God doesn't kill people or hurt people, the devil on earth does. God gave us free will and sometimes people reap the hardships they sow. Sometimes, really bad things happen to amazing people but it's not FOR A REASON. It happens, it's life and it sucks, badly.

    I tell people I"m praying for them, I'm sorry for whatever struggle they are going through and send them a virtual hug, as silly as that sounds.

    • admin

      I don't think that sounds silly at all:) I totally agree with you. People forget that God gave us free will and sometimes people make horrible decisions that are a direct result of their actions not God's. Allowing things to happen and causing things to happen are two totally different things, imo:)

  • Nat

    Thanks for linking up with us! Great post. I always just try to say I'm sorry and here if they want to talk. I try not say everything happens for a reason and I like the idea of not trying to figure out the why. Thanks for the great reminder.

  • Kristen [Playground Prepster]

    I used to always pray for healing for friends and loved ones. But then you realize that as much as someone needs healing, it isn't always going to happen. So after a love one had terrible news and not much time left, I learned just what you posted – it was more important to pray for peace. That is what we all need, especially in situations we can't control.

  • Queen In Between

    What a great post. I was just thinking about this yesterday as I have a friend about to celebrate her 2nd Christmas without her daughter who was killed in a car accident…it's so heartbreaking but I honestly have a hard time finding any words that would make sense. I think as humans we also want to fix things and offer help but in this situation that is not an option

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