Our lives are shaped by those who love us.
John Powell

When someone dear to us dies, we need our family and friends to lean in. But few people instinctively know what to say or do, and instead we can find ourselves feeling even more isolated and alone.

To others, we can be a reminder that the horrible happens, the unjust occurs, the unthinkable turns anyone’s life upside down in a heartbeat. Yet we are too broken to offer guidance or a roadmap to those who care about us. We need our friends and family to keep us afloat, to hold our hand, to help us climb out of the pit, to reassure us that we can survive the loss. But how?

Two sisters standing with their backs to the camera. The one on the left is wearing a white shirt and blue shorts. The one on the left has a pink and orange dress on and her left arm around her sister.

.Articles that offer guidance to those who love us are often negative — “The 7 Things You Should Never Say To A Grieving Parent”, “10 Dumb Things To Say to Someone In Grief”, “Stupid Stuff People Say When Someone Dies”. Writers and commentators will sometimes mock those who reach out to us by categorizing them as “Minimizers”, “The Feelings Police”, “Fixers”, “The Cheerleaders”.

People’s natural fear of saying or doing the wrong thing is heightened by these articles, resulting in what grievers fear most — our friends and family pulling back, avoiding us, saying nothing.

At Salt Water, we believe that the people who love us want to reach out and offer comfort, support and help. Contrary to the shaming messages of the critical articles and snarky labels, perfect scripts or phrases and magic words that ease grief don’t exist. What is true is that saying something is far better than saying nothing, and the simple act of showing up and holding a bereaved person’s hand can be the greatest gift of all.

Some of our favorite pieces offering insight on how to support a grieving friend or family member:

Two women sitting with their backs to the camera, one with blond hair on the left, the other with dark hair on the right. They're using their hands to make a heart which is silhouetted against a sunset sky.

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