What to Say and What NOT to Say to a Grieving Loved One


When a friend or family member is grieving the death of a loved one, it can be hard to know what to say or do. We’ve talked to some Milwaukeeans who are nervous to reach out because they’re afraid to say the wrong thing. Others feel so awkward they wonder if they should say anything at all. We’ve even had people tell us that they regret the way they handled a situation following a death.

At Krause Funeral Homes, we understand how important it is to stand alongside those who have experienced a loss. Our years of experience helping Milwaukee, New Berlin, and Brookfield families plan funerals have shown us the incredible value that comes in connecting with others during a difficult time.

Eventually, we’ll all have a friend lose someone they love. Do you know what to say when the time comes? Consider our advice:

What not to say: Is there anything I can do to help?

What to say: I’m going to the grocery store this afternoon. What can I pick up for you?

I have a care package I’m going to leave on your front porch. No need to answer the door when I come. What afternoon can I take the kids out so you can get some things done around the house?

What not to say: I know exactly how you feel.

What to say: I wish I had the right words to say, but please know I’m here to listen.

What not to say: Anything starting with the words “at least.” For example: At least you have your other children with you. At least his suffering didn’t last long.

What to say: You must really miss him.

What not to say: God never gives us more than we can handle. God must have needed another angel in heaven.  This is God’s plan.

 What to say: I know how special she was and how much you loved her.

What not to say: You need to be strong.

What to say: We all need support in times like this. I’m here for you.

Instead of trying to “fix” your loved one or talk them out of their pain, it’s best to express support and compassion. Here are a few more examples of how to do so:

  • I’m up late and you can always call me.
  • I’m so sorry.
  • Do you feel like talking about her death right now?
  • I have time for you and am here to listen.
  • I’ll be here as long as you need me.

If you or a loved one is in need of help with grief or are not sure how best to help a grieving loved one, please reach out to us. We can connect you with aftercare resources in Milwaukee, or direct you to our online interactive grief support. We also recommend reading our 2-part blog series on how to help a grieving friend.

Dealing with loss can permeate every part of life and it’s important to work through these emotions. It’s also important to remember that everyone grieves differently. When you need us, our team at Krause Funeral Homes is here to help however we can.

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