What To Say To Someone Who Lost Their Husband. Losing a loved one is always difficult. But losing the person who shared your life in marriage is one of the greatest tragedies a person can go through. If you know someone who has lost a spouse, it can be hard to find the words appropriate for the occasion.
After all, how do you find what to say to someone who lost their husband? What words are good enough? Powerful enough? The truth is, there’s nothing you can say that will take the pain away for that someone. But by being tactful and compassionate, your words can still make a positive difference in their grieving process.
What to say to someone who lost their husband: right after the death
When someone has lost a husband very recently, your first reaction is of great importance. In the intense sadness that they are experiencing, any tactless words could push them into a deeper depression. Worst still, you could lose friends by saying something inappropriate following a husband’s death. So think before you speak, and don’t be tempted to launch into a monologue.
Less is more
When someone has just lost a husband, the best thing you can do is think before you speak. Ask yourself: Is this what I’d want to hear if my husband just died? Also ask yourself: Is this piece of advice actually useful?
It’s tempting to start giving advice straight away: you have to take care of yourself, you shouldn’t listen to sad music, you need to go on a trip, you need to start finding someone else… The truth is, the widow is not likely to be receptive to your tips, as sensible as they may be.
So instead of giving a lot of advice, focus on just a few simple words: I’m so sorry. I feel for you. I’m always here for you. I know these are very trying times, and I want you to know that I care.
Remember that you don’t have to fill the silence. Silence is a natural part of grief. Just accept it, and do your part to share thoughtful yet simple words of compassion.
If the person is religious
Something that you have to ask yourself when you’re figuring out what to say to someone who lost their husband is whether or not that person is religious. If they are, then you can be here with them and accompany them to religious services and ceremonies. They will be grateful to have a spiritual friend in their time of need.
To a religious person, some words on the afterlife can also be comforting. You can tell them “your husband is with God and you’ll get to see him again in heaven”, “Your husband led a good life, we know he’s looking at us now”.
However, don’t overdo it with the religious language. There’s no need to go on saying things like “He’s back with the angels now” or “God just wanted him by his side”. Remember: a grieving person won’t be receptive to overly lyrical or emotional language, so keep things simple and thoughtful.
If the person isn’t religious
If the person whose husband just died is not religious, please remember that now is not a time to try to convert them to your religion. Avoid any religious language around them: your thinking that their husband is in heaven won’t be of any comfort if they don’t personally believe in heaven.
Instead, focus on things that are universal: compassion, solidarity, support. Show that you are here for them if they need help in their daily life. Tell them you are here to listen to their pain.
When actions speak louder than words
If you can’t find out what to say to someone who lost their husband, it’s also a sign that words are not the right medium to express your support. The grieving widow will have heard the words “I’m so sorry for your loss” so many times that yours won’t make a difference.
So instead, show them that you care with actions, not words. Sit by their side as they cry or process their recent loss. Invite them to your house for a home-cooked dinner. Offer to go on walks with them…
A few things you can say to communicate to the grieving person that you are here for them are:
- you have my phone number, don’t hesitate to call me any time of the day or night
- I’ll be coming to check on you regularly these coming months, don’t worry, you won’t be alone
- whenever you want to talk or you just need a hug, you know where I live. Stop by.
What to say to someone who lost their husband: a few months into the grieving process
The period immediately following the death of the person is usually the hardest one. But even after that, you have to be careful about what you say. Just because you feel that the husband has been dead a while doesn’t mean that the person is still not grieving.
So how do you know what to say to someone who lost their husband a few months back? You have to listen before you speak. Pay close attention to what they are telling you: the way that they talk about grief will let you know which of the 5 stages they find themselves in. Based on that information, you can find out the most helpful thing to say.
For example, if they are in an angry stage, you want to avoid saying things like “he’s had a wonderful life” or “he’s in a better place now.” This would only increase the frustration of the widow. Instead, focus on language that shows how accepting you are. You can say things like “I can’t understand exactly how you feel, but you’re always in my thoughts” or “I’m always here if you need to talk.”
If they’re in a depressed phase, then don’t feel the need to cheer them up with jokes or fun activities. It’s also an essential part of their grieving process. At this stage, you can try to brighten their day by sharing good memories you have of their husband: they’ll be appreciative of an occasion to be grateful for the life they shared together.
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What to say to someone who lost their husband: years after the tragedy
What do you say to someone who lost a husband some years ago? In that case, “I’m sorry for your loss” may seem a bit outdated. It’s also not necessary to remind them that you’re here “any time of the day or night”. But you can still do your best to show your compassion. Tell them you’re here if they need to talk about it. Tell them to reach out if they ever feel lonely.
But the best thing to do when someone tells you they’re a widow is to simply acknowledge the fact and move on. They’re not expecting any big declarations. So if you don’t know what to say to someone who lost their brother a long time ago, don’t say anything. It’s always better than to risk saying something inappropriate.
What NOT to say to someone who lost their husband
Now for the hard part of the article. Let’s discuss the things you certainly shouldn’t say to someone who’s lost a husband.
The first thing to mention is that many people feel compelled to start talking about themselves. They’ll say things like “I know exactly how you feel, when my friend Tom passed away, I was devastated…” or “You remind me of myself some years back when I lost my husband.” These words will be of no comfort to them.
A grieving person needs to know that their feelings are valid, but they don’t need to know how you felt when you were in their position. So refrain from unleashing your own feelings and your own past on them, it’s not useful at this point.
The second worst offender is downplaying their grief. Saying things like “your husband lived a long life at least” or “you’re a beautiful woman, you can find another husband easily” is thoroughly unhelpful. I know you’re tempted to say these things because they’re supposed to bring another perspective to the grieving person.
But a widow doesn’t need a more positive outlook on her husband’s grief. She needs compassion, support, empathy. So don’t try to somehow point at the “bright side of things”, it could come across as tactless.
Finally, avoid the likes of “you have to be strong”, “be brave”, “don’t let it get to you”. The death of a husband is a major event, and they will need to grieve before they can be brave and strong again. Remember: it’s not your place to tell the other person how they should feel or act. Instead, be understanding of the way that they are actually feeling, let them talk through their emotions, and just be there. This is the most important thing you can do.
Finding what to say to someone who lost their husband is difficult because there isn’t just one easy formula. You have to pay attention to how that person is feeling, how long it has been, whether they are religious or not… But if you remember to put your compassion and understanding first, this can go a long way. And if you’re really not sure what to say, just say nothing. Being there and showing your support with simple gestures like a hug or a listening ear is still the best thing you can do.