What To Say During Mourning AND What Not To Say

It is never pleasant to extend condolences and it can be awkward. Because there has been a death or serious loss, it is always a sad time for the mourners and, as friends or acquaintances, we want to say something helpful, or at least not harmful.  Often, people say nothing because they don’t know what to say or are afraid of saying the wrong thing.  That behavior isn’t the best response.  Nothing brilliant is required, nothing clever.  The only thing the survivor wants is that which he or she cannot get – the return of the lost person.  Therefore, we don’t have much to offer so keep it simple and kind. “I’m sorry” is often good enough. If you knew the deceased, you can say something accurate about his or her personality or you can recount a good story.  Unless you know that the mourners are religious, saying “He is in God’s hands” may not be consoling; same with “He is in a better place.”

 

 

 

If you are an early career clinician, a professor who teaches interviewing skills, or a clinical supervisor, you will find my newest book, “What Do I Say? The Therapist’s Guide To Answering Client’s Questions” (with C. Waehler, published by John Wiley, 2011) a  practical, useful addition to your library.   http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=what+do+i+say+edelstein 

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