Marie Forleo introduction


I'm Marie

You have gifts to share with the world and my job is to help you get them out there.

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The unthinkable happens. Whether it’s a life-threatening diagnosis, the death of a loved one or a heartbreaking tragedy — the experience of devastating loss touches us all.

The challenge is that many of us have a hard time finding words of comfort, or even know what to say when someone dies. Heartfelt, genuine condolence messages aren’t simple to express.

In a world where we often learn about such shattering news via text, email or even social media — our responses can be awkward at best and non-existent at worst.

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now because I believe that people have so much more love and compassion in their hearts than they’re often able to express.

But that’s understandable, because most of us haven’t been taught what to say when someone dies or suffers a loss. And too many of us stay silent because we’re afraid of saying the wrong thing.

If you’ve ever struggled to write a condolence message, a sympathy message or find words of comfort for a friend or loved one, this episode is for you.

Never let your fear of saying the wrong thing, stop you from saying something. Click To Tweet

You’ll learn exactly what to say (and not say) when tragedy strikes. You’ll learn the right words of comfort to truly support someone in way that’s genuine and not trite or, worse, unknowingly offensive.

While the advice in this episode isn’t exhaustive, it does provide concrete guidance to make sure that your intention of offering genuine love, comfort and support is well received.

My hope is that if you ever feel at a loss for words, struggle to write a condolence message or feel unsure of how to best show your love and support for a friend who’s grieving — this episode will be one you come back to.

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Check out this episode on The Marie Forleo Podcast

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Enormous thanks to Kris Carr, Joanna Goddard, David Kessler and Andi O’Conor, PhD for their work.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. If you have some other do’s and don’ts to share from your experience, put them directly in the comments below.

If you share a don’t, please do so with love and compassion.

Most people have their heart in the right place, but as you know — we all make mistakes. Especially if we haven’t experienced that situation ourselves.

Remember, add as much detail as possible in your reply. Thousands of incredible souls come here each week for insight and inspiration and your voice may help someone else have a meaningful breakthrough.

Important: share your thoughts and ideas directly in the comments. Links to other posts, videos, etc. will be deleted as they come across as spammy.

Thank you so much for reading, watching and diving into the discussion.

I’m truly grateful for the supportive, inspiring and consistently insightful conversations that unfold here.

With all my love,


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  1. Marie I had the honor of being a Police Chaplain for 21 years. Sadly it mostly involved telling unexpecting people the worst possible news. The most significant thing I learned is that your presence (physical, phone call, letters, messages) is the most significant aspect of helping people. Often out of fear of saying the wrong thing we stay away from saying or doing anything. At times like this people need people.

    • Dear Garry, Thank you for this-it is absolutely spot on. We absolutely need the physical presence of one another.

    • Well, it’s absolutely true! But seriously your comment carries a presence that is very comforting! You pulsate with such compassion and strength. Thank you!!

  2. Ame B.

    Thank you for this! I know people mean well, but when they ask “how did they die?” With or without a humble preface or pause, you want to scream WHAT DIFFERENCE does it make!?!?! They are gone!!!

    • Stephanie


    • Heather

      This is so important. My friend lost her son and was destroyed every time this question was asked of her. Another case of people not knowing what to say.

      • Ame B.

        I am so sorry for your friend! I have lost my sister, grandmother and mom within a six year period and I tell ya, it can be a bear.

        • Lainee

          I have a girlfriend who lost her Mother, Brother and Sister all in one year’s time. She also suffers from depression, so lots and lots of coffee/lunch visits and comforting and inspiring cards and emails finally helped her through this extremely difficult time. Just BEING there is what they need! Wishing everyone a most happy and blessed Thanksgiving!!!

  3. Teo Chen Soon

    Very inspirational, especially for me who is looking after a loved one in a nursing home.

  4. I lost a beloved friend years ago. The most helpful thing someone said to me was, “Be gentle with yourself.”

    It’s surprising how hard we can be on ourselves when grieving.

    • Kristin - Team Forleo

      Ah, that’s so true, Jenny. Being gentle with yourself through your grief is wonderful advice.

      • Thank you, Kristin. I work with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. The organization provides bereavement photography for parents have lost a baby. When I send a family their photos, I always include those words that meant so much to me.

        People won’t remember what you say most of the time. They remember that you showed up and were unafraid.

        Thank you to Marie and your team for making this episode.

        • Nikki

          Jenny, I love you comment – people remember that you showed up and weren’t afraid. It seems people don’t know how to handle other people who are grieving. I am almost 3 weeks into the loss of my niece and the support is definitely way less than when it happened, yet this is the period when reality actually sets in. There seems to a “time frame” on when people thing that you should be feeling better.

          • I’m so sorry for your terrible loss. And thank you for sharing your insight – I watched this episode because a close friend suddenly lost her brother a few weeks ago and I haven’t known what to say except to check in on her and see if she needs anything. I know that she has been numb from shock and processing the suddenness of the loss so I’m grateful for the reminder that now is when she might need me. I truly hope you have the support you need right now also.

          • absolutely! show up and show you’re not afraid! and be there – physically – and keep in touch. I recently lost a very good friend to cancer and I know her mother is devastated… same as my own mother was when my sister died. Unfortunately, my personal experience has taught me that friends are more often the ones who will stay in touch and offer specific help (go for a beer, go watch a movie etc.) when family members seem to assume you’re dealing with your grief… Just call to say: I’m calling you but I don’t know what to say… except that I feel for you. Thanks Marie for raising this difficult subject.

        • Jenny, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is such an incredible service. I am watching the video and am deeply humbled by what an important service you’re providing. Thank you.

          • shirley chambers

            Thank you, I like to know how can I join the Now Laid Me Down To Sleep organization. I would like to become a part of this organization.

    • Teri

      x-x-x-x-xOx Love this!!!
      Thank you,

    • Caroline Hinrichs

      Yes! Great point. We lost my father-in-law 3 weeks ago and self-care/self-compassion (for myself, to best support my husband in his grief) is absolutely critical while grieving.

  5. Thank you for sharing Marie. A little over a year ago our daughter was stillborn at 40 weeks. The initial outpouring of support was so comforting. My challenge has been other timidness to approach the subject over a year later.

    I love the suggestion of continuing to check-in. Grief will linger in our hearts for some time so it’s refreshing when a friends asks me “how are you doing” even a year and a half later.

    • Kristin - Team Forleo

      I’m so sorry you went through that, Kendra. It sounds like you have really wonderful people around you — it’s beautiful that they continue to check in with how you’re feeling. xo

    • Gilah

      Thank you for sharing, my love goes to you! I think this is a very important detail for friends. Remember that your friend is a lot of the time still in pain after the loss. Give them the possibility to talk about it. Or do something together to remember the person who past away.

  6. Lina

    Thank you for the insight as it is always hard to watch others in hard times. Your suggestions were very compassionate and touching. Thank you, Lina

  7. I love this one!!! You are so sensitive and thoughtful!
    When I had cancer, I never did call for help…but I took all the help that was offered to me…without feeling like a burden. So, yes, please do call the person and just offer to do whatever they need. Great advice!
    I had 52 radiation treatments and had rides to and from for each one…because people asked me what they could do, I offered them that opportunity to serve.
    And now, I am very much there for others…to do just the same.

  8. Thank you, Marie. I *heart* you! I lost my father to a very sudden cancer four years ago, and I could not agree more with what you had to say. What most people don’t realize unless they have lost someone is how incredibly isolating the grieving process is. I have never had more lonely feelings than I have in the past four years. I was kind of shocked, in all honesty, at how few people reached out to me even when it first happened. A friend of ten years actually texted me her condolences (people you don’t know in person posting comments on Facebook is one thing, but this was a very close friend). When I finally worked up the courage to tell her it had hurt my feelings, she told me she didn’t respond well to guilt and that I should just tell her what kind of support I needed. The truth is, it’s very hard to ask for support. And a lot of people mean well, but either offer minimizing comments (such as, “he lived a good life”), or not much at all. And when the grief storms continue months, even years later . . . it doesn’t give me a sense of permission to even call anyone and tell them I am hurting. Thankfully I’ve built more supportive relationships since then. But as far as a do – one of my favorite calls came from a friend who was clearly terrified to call me, because she kept saying, “I’m so sorry you’re hurting. I’m just afraid I will say the wrong thing.” And I told her, it actually touched me that she’d push herself to call when she was nervous to show her support – because that’s all I truly needed. Someone to care I was hurting, to stand with me in my pain, and not try to fix me. My dad died of a terrible disease and I watched his cognition rapidly disappear in a matter of months such that I never really got to see my dad as I remembered him from the time I got the phone call he was sick. There’s no way to fix that, and anyone attempting to do so will only make you feel more alone. But people who have the courage to sit with you when you’re sad and not try to make the tears go away – that’s a precious gift.

    • Lenore

      Rachel, thank you! I’m one of those people who never knows the right thing to say. Even when people share good news my responses are often awkward. And I struggle with asking for support. When I do manage to ask, I’m often rebuked in one way or another with various versions of “but that was 2 years ago! Aren’t you better now?” or unspoken responses that seem to dismissively suggest I might be bringing this on myself. Your thoughts, together with Marie’s message, has really hit home for me that it’s the things I’d most appreciate hearing that may also be the right things to say to others xx

  9. This came at the right time for me. I just received a message from my best friend from high school in response to a birthday email. We have known each other for 45 years but live across the country from each other and only keep in touch at the holidays. This year I just sent her an e-card and got back a response saying they had just buried her daughter-in-law (a 30 year old new mom). I was struggling with how to respond. This post has given me some great, and very timely, advice! Many thanks!

  10. Susan Cousineau

    Amazing timing Marie; our 98 year old grandmother passed away on Friday morning, while my sister and I sat with her, holding her hands. We’d spent the week caring for her as her body gradually, and very reluctantly, gave up its struggle.

    The most appreciated moments were people that came to see us in person, or called — the direct voice or presence of someone has meant so much to us. She was a major part of our local small (tiny) community for over 50 years and will be missed by many. Having people tell us stories, laugh, and grieve with us has meant the world.

    I think the most frustrating comment is “She’s in a better place now”. Sure, maybe. Or not. Who knows. What matters most is the lives she touched, and continuing those threads of contact, so the comforting moments that have stuck out in my mind are the ones that emphasize the relationships and memories.

  11. Susan Walter

    I find the word ‘ sorry’- to not be appropriate in the above scenarios.
    Saying sorry means you were in some way involved in the cause. It is an overused word. Better to find something else to say, without using that word.

    I prefer to say ‘ I am sad for you or with you (in your time of loss, or in how that person is feeling).

    When my mother passed, someone sent the following note (which I now use)
    ” I may not have known her, but I do know of those who did & mourn the loss of her with them. Please accept my deepest condolences……. ”


    • Sara

      ‘I am sad for you’ feels a bit like you are taking pity on the person rather than empathizing with them. Even ‘I am sad with you’ could feel minimizing or disingenuous since you are probably not in the same level of pain.
      Saying ‘I’m sorry’ is not about taking the blame, it’s just saying you are sorry to know that the person is in pain, that you feel for them and their loved one.

      • wendy becker

        yes i like this. thank you for sharing.

      • Sue

        You could say I am really sad to hear that, rather than I am sad for you.
        I am so sorry to hear that……

  12. J

    Thank you Marie, always spot on.
    Looking for some community help here. I’m that person who wants to fix everyone. I’ve learned, with the help of this community, to hold back and be the change I want to see in others.
    I have a friend recently diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. I think I was pretty good when she first told me about it, I said all the things above, I’m here for you, that sucks, sorry, what can I do to help…
    She has since added me to a group called “My fight” where she asked for ideas and help for her fight. After I offered my evidence-based advice on how she could help herself, she expressed overwhelm and severe resistance.
    She smokes, drinks, consumes a lot of sugar and processed foods, and gets no exercise. It is extremely difficult for me to see her doing that when there is very strong evidence that changing those things will help to cure her cancer.
    Do I stop offering this kind of help? It seems wrong of me to just stand by and watch her make it worse.
    Any suggestions? I don’t live near her.

    • Regina Islas

      Yes, stop offering her advice, immediately, and practice listening with respect and compassion. You’re not in charge of curing her cancer, but you are in charge of how you show up. Sounds like an excellent growth opportunity for you. Wishing you courage and support.

    • Diane

      Seeing as she’s expressed resistance, yes, I’d not continue to send anything unless she later indicates she’s open to that. Maybe its not the right time for her to hear that information but she may return to it when she IS open to it?

      The hardest part might be accepting that if she doesn’t want to do the work then there is nothing you can do to help her. I imagine that could be exceptionally frustrating when you have information you believe could change her situation.

    • wendy becker

      As difficult as it is to step back and let others have their journey in the end its the only way they will learn to empower themselves. We cant do it for them only take responsibility for ourselves and as you have said Be the change ourself and lead by example. I think be gentle with yourself knowing you stepped up with sound advice, a good heart and maybe say something like ‘if there is anything i can help you with im here for you.’ But your friend has to find the strength to make the inner journey…doesnt mean you have any less love or compassion for her. In each and every moment our life is created by the choices we make…even when observing others their choices make no sense!!:)

  13. I’d suggest one not use the phrase “thoughts and prayers,” such as “our thoughts and prayers are with you.” I’ve worked in communications offices where the “official” statements about a retired or current staffer who died inevitably used that phrase. It’s become so common, and hackneyed, that I’ve heard it referred to as “T and P.” Plus, an increasing number–23 percent–of Americans, and even more Europeans, don’t believe in any religion. I, and other atheists I know, don’t find that phrase helpful. Just letting someone know you’re thinking of them, you feel for them, and would like to help them feels a lot better.

    • Jennifer

      Maria, I feel the same way that you do about that thoughts and prayers. And because I don’t pray, it’s something that I haven’t been able to say to others. That leaves me with “you’re in my thoughts” which just sounds so impersonal.

      Another tip– I don’t relate my experience of loss with my grieving friend’s loss, because I wouldn’t want to make it about me. On the other hand, I have had a friend who was grieving ask me about a similar loss of a family member. So I feel that it’s best to wait to be asked, but I’m curious what others think about that.

      I’m keeping a little journal with all of these great ideas in it btw. Great topic.

  14. This is a good reminder Marie, thank you. When someone is diagnosed with a serious illness and needs lengthy care, get family or friends together to make meals that could be put in the freezer in disposable containers. If someone is taking the ill person to medical care or daily caring for the ill person and usually takes care of a whole family, mealtime for the family will be one less thing they have to concern themselves with during this physical and emotionally draining time. This will also be useful to ensure that the caretaker and the sick person has healthy and home cooked meals available and they will less likely grab junk when hungry because of lack of time or energy to cook.

  15. A lovely episode. I send cards, not emails, I don’t say ‘call me’ I call-this is based on my own experience (and preference, admittedly). When my dad died, I didn’t have the strength to call-and those who called made all the difference! The first comment by the officer about presence was spot on. Thanks team Forleo for this gift. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  16. Elizabeth

    I’m on the receiving end of that serious diagnosis. These are spot on! And here are some do’s and don’ts I’d like to recommend:
    *Do talk about it, don’t avoid the subject – better to say “I’m sorry and I don’t know what to say” than to ignore the subject.
    *Don’t pretend you haven’t heard through the grapevine. Don’t make me tell the story and diagnosis again if I don’t have to.
    *Do stay in touch AFTER. Cancer is a long journey – I may not need anything now but offer again later and I might need you. But if you have not reached out after the initial offer, I probably won’t reach out to you when I do need assistance.
    *Don’t give me medial advice. I have a team of doctors who I’m paying. I appreciate that you might be in the medical field but you don’t know MY case.
    *Do treat me like a “normal” person. My new normal may be different but I’m still me.
    *Don’t treat me like a child. I may need help but I am still an adult.
    *Do ask questions if you really care and want to know. I don’t mind sharing about my journey but there are details I may hold back.
    *Re-emphasizing the “specific offer” to help – So many people are offering “let me know what I can do” or “let me know if you need anything” that it is overwhelming.

    Thank you for the timing of your post!

    • Oh man, your don’t about pretending not to know really hit me. I’ve definitely been guilty of that (I just assumed if someone wanted me to know, they would tell me), but I never thought about how the person would have to share the story over and over. Thank you so much for sharing your tips, I’m definitely saving these!

      • Anu Manhotra

        thank you so much for sharing ,took my share of information !!

    • Kristin - Team Forleo

      These are great suggestions, Elizabeth. Thank you so much for sharing them with us!

  17. Oh man, I just LOVE this episode. For whatever reason, I’ve had a few friends who’ve lost siblings in the past few years, and I’ve straight-up asked what they needed. Here’s some of what they said (all reinforced from your video):

    – Constant communication. Everyone calls in the first few days and it can feel really overwhelming. Who in their right mind wants to be social after a tragedy? But once things have calmed down, that’s when you need people the most. Problem is, most people have moved on by then.
    – Frequent memories. A friend told me that even though her brother died nearly 40 years ago, she still loves to talk about him. My mother-in-law, who lost a son, says the same thing, and makes a big effort to keep photos of him around the house to trigger visitors to share stories. When another friend’s brother died, I sent her a letter a few weeks after with all my favorite memories I had of him.
    – Gifts. Since I live internationally, I’m often not able to make it to the funeral, but Amazon Prime has saved the day. Instead of flowers, I send a self-care gift: a coloring book, a new yoga mat, a novel, bath salts, something to remind them to take a breath and feel good.
    – I’ve often found that sometimes people really need to cry WITH someone. No one’s ever taken me up on the offer to “call if you need to talk,” but “call if you want someone to be with you while you cry” has worked. Sometimes we need to be sad, but don’t want to do it alone.

    Finally, one of my favorite responses is, “That sucks.” Instead of “I’m sorry for your loss,” which is so often said that it’s lost it’s meaning, really owning how shitty a situation is always makes my friend smile and says, “Yeah, it really really does.” And that’s it. That’s all there is to say. You just be honest and keep showing up, long after society says they should be “over it.”

    • I agree. When I lost someone, the most memorable text I got was “that sucks.” She was spot on. It totally sucks.

      • Magali Bailey

        I find this so interesting! When my mum died at age 49, people would sometimes say to me “that sucks” and I would be furious! It sucks to stub your toe or get a parking ticket or lose your wallet. “That sucks??” I would think. . . “That sucks” felt so small compared to the grief I felt. At first it made me feel numb and then it would enrage me. But, 12 years later, reading this comment really makes me see it from a different perspective. It shows me compassion for the person reaching for a connection. I would offer this, along with all of these fabulous bits of wisdom: Just get out of your head. Don’t even try to find the right word with your mind. Just feel into your heart. Let yourself feel the situation and the other person with your heart. Put your guard down and allow the feeling of it all to overwhelm you for a moment. That’s real connection. That’s all. You can’t go wrong from there.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      These are all excellent ideas, Marian! Thank you so much for sharing them. <3

  18. Maria

    I think that one of the don’ts is also saying something like ”there is nothing to do about it”…

  19. Mari

    Here is another resource for the amazing B. Brown on empathy. It is totally worth the 3 min. watch!

  20. Don’t “saintify” the deceased. When my friend died of cancer in her late 40s, every person who spoke at her memorial service was over-the-top regarding her positive attributes, as in “she never doubted God’s plan for her,” or “she was always positive,” and many more that I can’t remember. As I listened to person after person (who claimed to know her best) exaggerate her virtues and ignore her realness and humanity, I found myself thinking, “who are you talking about, this isn’t the person I knew.” It was jarring and created a further sense of unreality in a situation that already felt unreal.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      That’s a really good point, Michelle. Even the best of us are still human and experience a spectrum of normal human emotions, some of which aren’t always pretty. I can also see how sanctifying the dead would be problematic if the deceased person wasn’t religious. Definitely a good tip to keep in mind—thank you.

  21. Marlin

    Everyone processes grief in different ways and at different paces. Please allow people the space to do it in their own way. Telling a hurting person that it is about time they “get over it” is just hurtful.

    • Kristin - Team Forleo

      Very true, Marlin! There’s no right or wrong way to grieve, and whatever process a person is going through should be respected.

    • Marianne

      My friend lost her daughter to MS last year. Her only child.
      She works part time for us and I have been much more supporting of her than her own brother. Actually she was my employee before my friend. I’m here to say the mixing of this does sometimes work. This is the first in 25+years in our business. So I don’t make a habit of it. She is a dear soul, a one in a million.
      Her brother would say this ‘get over it,’ Even early on since the daughter had been suffering with MS for 35 years. I told her you are probably never going to ‘get over it.’ (She’s 72) Said she found this comforting as she was wondering if something was wrong with her. ( At 72 and an only child, she won’t get over it. Its not an ex boyfriend, its her only child.) Told her, you want someone to listen to stories about her, I’m here for you.
      She recently told me I was the only one there for her when she had to move and take care of her daughter in her last almost 3 years. I called her weekly. That’s what friends do, they are supportive of each other.

  22. Teri Byrne

    *.* OUCH— When a local boy was killed on his skateboard, I could barely accept it, let alone share my support with his parents. But I went ahead and found a photograph and made a card with the words,
    “I don’t know what to say.”

    Months later, the dad told me that my card was their favorite.
    I seemed to share the shock, by admitting my lack of words. Wow—Honesty pays!

    And I love what Jenny Stein said. I’ll try to remember that the next time!

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      I’m so glad you trusted your heart to give you the right words to say, even if they seemed unconventional at the time. It’s clear your message came from the heart and that you really empathized with the family.

  23. Excellent guidance on an important topic, Marie. Appreciate your framing that guidelines can help each of us express more of the care and love we hold in our hearts <3 Dr. David Schonfeld, Director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, spoke at the National Resilience Institute’s annual Summit in Chicago this month and shared a really helpful “to do” and “not to do” list. You can find both resources online. Also google free grief materials that you can order from the New York Life Company Store, including a What to Say and What Not to Say Tip Card that can be folded to biz card size. We each can learn and practice what to say in a way that allows our compassion to flow!

  24. Lori

    My dad just died. I wish more people could see this.

    • SoCalGirl

      My dad died around this time of year a few years back. SOOO HARD. People at work stopped by and many gave me really nice cards. Just simple cards with their condolences. It meant a lot to me. My boss, who is odd, socially odd, gave me a book on the incredible cost of medical costs at the end of life. WOW. NOT appropriate, but in her own way, it was her way of reaching out. It actually became this healing thing as I showed a few close friends at work and in the midst of this incredible sorrow and grief, we would burst out laughing, just at the unbelievable-ness of this book/gift.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      I’m so sorry, Lori. We’re sending tons of love your and your family’s way during this challenging time. <3

  25. Thanks for this Marie – so timely. Our acting community very recently lost a brilliant and talented 20-year old man to an auto-accident. His Mom, Brother and Aunt came to our rehearsal and, rather than rehearse, we all just had a meal together. I noticed most folks were hesitant to approach the family, not really sure what to say or how to say it. As the service approaches, I will keep these suggestions in mind and share them. Thank you.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      I’m so sorry to hear of your community’s loss, Dawn. We’re sending tons of love and healing wishes to all the actors and the family.

  26. I’d like to add that you do NOT say to someone are they going to die? That is NOT helping the situation at all.

    I’ve been a lurker around here for a loooong time but never have commented or interacted…until today. This video/post is something that EVERYONE needs to see.

    My now 5 year old nephew was diagnosed with leukemia at 4. The things people have said to me (is it terminal, will he die, at least you’re there to help, at least your family lives in a small community & there is so much financial support (after a fund raiser for him to help my brother & sister-in-law with travel expenses (& other expenses) of having to travel 3 hours one way to the children’s hospital where he gets treatment) haven’t been what I needed to hear. Instead things like those comments left me angry.

    On the positive, there have been TONS of people who have been supportive in a positive way and said the right things (I don’t know what your family is feeling, but if I can do anything to help just let me know, etc.).

    I don’t know what I’m trying to say – that was a long ramble to say, again, that EVERYONE needs to see this.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry to hear about the rude comments and questions you’ve been receiving! It’s totally understandable that they’d leave you feeling angry, especially when your focus is on trying to take care of your nephew, not satisfying people’s morbid curiosity. We’re sending tons of love your family’s way.

      • Thank you Mandy. I wasn’t expecting a reply back so this just made my day. I forgot to mention – at this time, my nephew is doing well 🙂

        • Kathy

          I’m glad to hear your nephew is doing well at this time! Wishing you, and your family continued positive news.

  27. When I became a relatively young widow (in my 40s) most of my friends and family were clearly uncomfortable around me. I wanted them to treat me as usual. I wanted them to invite me for lunch or coffee (even if they were sure I’d decline). I wanted to chat about every day things, hear about their lives, and mostly I wanted us to talk about my husband together. Some of the most healing moments were when people told me stories about him — how he saved a project at work, a kindness he bestowed upon them, or a time he made them laugh. My mother, who adored my husband, refused to say his name for quite some time because she didn’t want to upset me! But her pretending he didn’t exist hurt me a lot more.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      I’m really sorry, Deane. It’s understandable that people dancing around the subject and pretending your husband didn’t exist would be painful. We’re sending tons of love and healing wishes your way.

      • Oh, Mandy, thank you so much. Your kind words mean a lot to me. It’s been a while and I’m doing fine now.

  28. Bethany Hissong

    The only thing that has ever comforted me when my loved ones died or I experienced a miscarriage was the reminder that God had them… imagining His arms wrapped around them in a safe and loving environment. My faith in God is so huge that nothing would be more offensive to me than ignoring this fact!

    • Bethany, I couldn’t agree more! When God is real to you and you’ve walked with him through life, you’ve learned to trust him. He is there for you when you grieve. When your loved one also walked with him, there is a deep assurance, a deep knowing that he or she is with him, and that the separation although difficult, is temporary.

  29. Sandra

    Thank you and thank you for this video. This video have to be spread out to the world. I have been thru a traumatic event in my life where I lost all of my immediate family members in an instant. I feel I was thrown a monkey wrench at me after I loss my mother (Dec 2013), my sister (Nov 2014) , and my Dad (Feb 2015) and did not get that moment to grieve it was so sudden. The comments that was to me was I know what you are going thru, really you never experience what I have been thru. Oh another one is I would not know what I would do if I lost all of my family members. That was a killer for me because really you should not have said that to me because you have not experience a tragedy and who knows if you ever going to experience because you may not know how to handle it. The best message is I am sorry for your loss and I am here for you. Sorry for my rant but I had to put it out there that people have to know what to say when someone when thru a loss or any other tragic event. Anyway great video be Blessed and look forward to meeting you soon Maria.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      Thank you so much for sharing what you’re going through, Sandra, and for giving us insight on how not to respond in such a traumatic situation. I’m really sorry you lost so many of your family members, especially in such a short amount of time. We’re holding you in our hearts during this challenging time.

      • Sandra

        Hi Mandy;
        Thanks for your words of encouragement. Have a great week.

    • Marianne

      Your story really tugged at my heart. I can not imagine all these losses in such a short period of time. Losing one is bad enough, but a whole family in 16 months!
      I’m sorry if this is inappropriate. But I imagine the pain like an earth quake scale. Losing one is like a 8.0, losing 2 is like an 8.5 which is 10 time worse than the first and the third like a 9.0 being 100 times worse. You have not been given time to full mourn a loss and then another is added.
      I too am orphaned but over 40 years. Being the last one left really sucks.
      I mean no disrespect to anyone. I am a new poster and getting a feel for the land.

      • Sandra

        Hi Marianne;
        Thanks for your words of encouragement. I rarely post any messages here but when I saw the title of this blog I had to present my comments. Yeah it does feel like a Tsunami has hit me or they threw a monkey wrench on me. Thanks again and have a wonderful week.

  30. Pat

    I’ve learned that it’s important to continue mentioning a lost loved one’s name. We tend to avoid bringing up the loved one so as not to inflict pain at the memory of loss. However, people have told me it starts to feel like the person never existed. Especially for parents who lose children, it can be a comfort to hear that precious name spoken. When my children were young, I deliberately asked an aunt who had lost a child specific questions about how she handled his childhood issues, like, “Did Mike sleep well as a baby?” or “How did you get Mike to try new foods?” My aunt was truly comforted to feel like a mom.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      You’re so right, Pat. Thank you for sharing this with us since it’s a really good thing for us all to keep in mind.

  31. David

    Been there. My mother, 1 grandfather, 2 grandmothers, an aunt, y pediatrician and a mentor and friend have all gone on ahead of me. One of the things I found most helpful was certain people’s calming presence. Sometimes, it’s better not to say anything and just be there.

  32. Thank you for the episode and for starting this conversation Marie. One of my best friends died 7 years ago when I was on exchange and she was back home.
    Looking over the other comments, I’d add:
    + say something over nothing (I heard things which offended me too but I took them as people having a hard time with their own grief. By and far, the fact that someone took the time to reach out to me was the most comforting.)
    + If you’re a close friend, check in with the person who’s grieving and ask how they’re doing, especially when it comes to their basic needs. Is anyone helping out with food, daily company or do they need anything you can bring? The friends I lived with would give me space in the mornings, and then around lunch come knocking that we were going for lunch so I better get dressed. I had a hard time going out in public without crying, but I still went out. I was just gentle with myself when I broke down in public. They also came by to see me and see if I wanted to talk, they would be there. This is such a simple yet rare thing we see but many people want to eventually talk about what happened in order to make sense of what has happened. If you’re brave enough, you can keep showing up and being this person for them. I’ll never forget those who were there for me.
    + I loved the tip to keep checking in. Especially after a few months or years had gone by, people stop asking. Every once in awhile, a friend would bring up my friend who’d passed and ask how I was doing. The fact that they were still remembering the person meant a lot to me.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      These are all really good tips, Irina! Thank you. I’m so glad to hear you had friends who supported you during that rough time.

  33. Laurie

    People are there the first few weeks for someone who is grieving; but their lives move forward much faster than those who have lost someone; remember to keep in contact and check in with them as the months go on. Send a card on the anniversary of their loved ones death letting them know they are in your thoughts that day.

  34. Thanks, Marie for addressing this important topic. As someone who has lost most of her family, several pets, a career (yes, that’s also something that we grieve, even if it’s our choice) and faced some health challenges, I can say your advice is spot on.

    What I would add is the thing that people who are grieving want more than anything is to be witnessed. We want to share our grief and our experience without anyone attempting to “fix” it or make us feel better. People may think they have to “do” something and what we really want is for them to “be” with us, just be present and hold the space for us to share and “be” with whatever comes up for us, even if it’s a little messy and uncomfortable. No words are necessary, just loving presence. That’s the best gift of all.

    Grief is a universal human experience and it’s a beautiful opportunity for us to be vulnerable with each other and connect on a deep level, heart to heart. It’s a time when actions can really speak louder than words.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      That’s a really good point, Julia! That distinction between doing and being is important. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

  35. Emma Cartwright

    I lost my father 3 years ago & am in the midst of losing my mum, so sadly this is a topic I’m familiar with and feel passionate about!
    The things that make/made the difference to me were:

    – The people who were just there without judgement. Without expectations and conditions. Who didn’t tell me it would be ok, or what I should do to deal with it, or try to dismiss how I felt – they just listened and offered a hand or a hug when I needed it.
    – The people who checked in regularly without waiting for me to make contact. A loss can feel like a really lonely experience and I remember not wanting to burden people with my ‘stuff’… knowing people are there, is so important.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      Those are all really good tips, Emma, and I’m so sorry to hear you’re losing your mum. I hope the people in your life will support you in the important ways you’ve outlined here. We’ll be thinking of you during this difficult time.

  36. Beth Parker

    Thanks so much for this thoughtful post. My husband is dying now, from terminal cancer. I might caution that sometimes the grieving person really does want to be alone. I am very private and I will be grieving in my own very personal way. Be kind enough to not force your presence on someone who really does need that alone time. Sometimes, in our eagerness to help, we insist on being there in person to hold their hand or bring them food. That isn’t the answer for everybody. Be sensitive to their responses when you are offering your help. I hope I voiced this well. I had people trying to force their Thanksgivings on us, when we really just want to keep making our own personal memories, while we still can. Thanks, Marie.

    • Wendy Snelgrove

      Well Said – and my experience resonates with your comments whole heartedly.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      That’s so true, Beth. Thank you for sharing your perspective because it’s definitely an important one.

  37. Our son passed away at the age of 5 in a tragic accident. I have 3 older daughters and my husband was recovering in the hospital. I loved when friends checked in, but I also needed a lot of privacy to be alone with my girls, spend time and just be with them through the initial weeks after the funeral. People didn’t understand that and wanted to surround us 24/7. I appreciated it, but also needed the freedom to be alone with my girls. And I needed my own privacy to simply cry all night if I needed to. It’s important to listen, really listen to what a grieving person is saying and then don’t try to second guess what’s best for them. Let them set the boundaries of need and comfort.

    • Oh Wendy, that’s so heartbreaking. I’m so sorry for your loss.

      I have a question about your point being surrounded 24/7… we had the same issue when my MIL passed away. Our post-life planning was interrupted by well wishers. We didn’t want to send them away and we welcomed their presence but at the same time, we had to get sh*t done. In addition to maintaining our own lives (I ran a business that suffered because of my time away from the shop), we were dedicated for 10 days in her house as we took care of her invalid husband. At the risk of sounding crass, how appropriate would it be if we were to put a sign on the door that read something like, “Accepting visitors between 2-4pm? Will return phone calls between 8-9pm?

      This is just something that came to me as I read your post.


      • Sue

        I think the sign with “Accepting Visitors between . . . ” would be SO HELPFUL and not crass at all.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      I’m so sorry to hear of your son’s passing, Wendy. We’re sending tons of love your family’s way. And you hit on a really important point—listening to those who are grieving, being there for them in the ways they want us there, and not overstepping their wishes.

  38. Christin

    Dear Marie,
    thank you so much for this episode. I’m in tears, which shows me, how much I would have needed the right persons to say the right things at the right time in my life.
    My husband and I built a house together, which meant a lot (A LOT) of work for us. But during the most busy time my husband had to undergo a difficult and very dangerous heart surgery for his valve insufficiency, which had aggravated massively before the house project started. I was in shock and so worried about him, that I didn’t want to know anything about the whole building situation. But I had to keep going, dealing with all the workers and companies on my own, while knowing my most important person in a life threatening suitation. After a few months, right when we moved in our new house, he had a second heart surgery, which again left me alone with both the worries and the work.
    Two months later our basement was flooded six feet high and we lost almost all our personal belongings. The whole new building equipment and appliances also had to be renewed, which left us with a lot more construction work for months to come. But this was only the first of five more water damages in our brandnew house within the following four months. All of them had to be fixed with a lot of construction work and desiccating. We were at our wit’s end.
    Only three months later, my husband fell off the sofa with no vital signs – no pulse, no breathing. Thankfully he regained consciousness after a while, but I was (and still am) under pure shock. His father and grandfather died right that way at an early age. He is fine again, but it feels like sitting on a time bomb.
    Only three months after that my best friend died unexpectedly.
    These were the most horrible two years in my life. My family was really great, but most people just asked, whether the water demages were covered by the insurance and if my husband was fine again. When both positive, no-one cared about what this meant for us other than money. Nobody cared about the trauma, we were going through or the loss we felt for many of the things we lost in the water. We still are drained and in grief. Nobody can imagine, what this all means, if they haven’t gone through the exact same situations. I know that.
    But sometimes it would have been nice to feel some more empathy. You say “the fear of saying the wrong thing should not stop you from saying something”. That is correct. But I think we heard the the wrong thing a few times too often. Of course, some friends were really very supportive and even helped us hands on, but some of my closest friends didn’t check up on us once or even said they were sorry for my loss, when my friend passed away. This was very hurtful. Saying the wrong thing or not saying anything can both be very hurtful. At the same time I don’t want to be overly judgemental, as I know how hard it is, to find the right words in difficult situations like these. And not even the most selected words can take away the pain. You’ll always have to go through it on your own. But it is good to know, that you have strong, steady people alongside. So what is my message? Don’t only ask facts (like insurance), also ask feelings. And keep asking, even if it has been months. The grieving process is not over after a funeral.
    Please excuse my English. As you may have figured out, I am not a native speaker.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us, Christin. This is a really important point, too—asking about how people are feeling rather than just the facts of the situation. I hope the people in your life will support you in the ways you need it most.

      (Also, your English is fantastic! I couldn’t tell you weren’t a native speaker at all.)

      • Christin

        Thank you very much for your reply, Mandy. What I just figured out while reading it, is that the facts questions are so very disturbing, because they imply: “Why worry, if the finances are covered and your husband is well again? No damage done. Move on.” They don’t meet the deeply disturbing trauma you experience, even when the “facts” are solved. It felt, like I had no right to feel terrified, or sad, or exhausted, or whatever feeling just was there at that moment. Or at least like I had no right, to bother anyone with it.
        At the same time I learned, that not every story is meant for everyone. So what, if your neighbours don’t react the way you need it? Don’t tell all the details to people, whose reply you might not want to hear or at least don’t expect them to react right the way you need it. Not many people can meet your expectations. Focus on those, who can.

  39. Holly

    This is very timely for me because my husband died 3 months ago & am fortunate that most people have been supportive & continue to do/say the right things. We moved to France 5 years ago so I was going through the administrative process in a foreign country, & in a language in which I am not fluent. I ran into administrative hurdles that caused things to drag out….The funeral was held quickly, but the burial took 2 months! (don’t ask!)

    Some of the best things people did/said were:
    –A woman I know (more of an acquaintance than a close friend) gently asked me whether if was OK for her to offer me some advice based on her experience of losing her toddler son in a drowning accident a few years ago. She also had a delayed burial because who thinks about buying a cemetery plot for a toddler? The important thing is that she *asked* me — she didn’t force her advice on me — & it was wonderful advice. She also took up a collection so there would be lovely flowers at the grave when he was buried. (not that I can’t afford flowers/plants, but people wanted to do their small part)
    –People I didn’t even know came to the funeral (we only knew one another through a local Facebook group) & others braved a rainstorm to be with me at the cemetery for the burial, knowing that being alone would have been devastating.
    –Someone offered to drive an hour each way to pick up my stepdaughter from the airport the day before my husband died. Other friends drove her back to the airport after the funeral.
    –A couple brought over a full cooked meal because I wasn’t eating.
    –People offered & gave practical assistance & translation service, accompanying me to meetings with the funeral home, etc.
    –Sometimes I was invited for meals at someone’s home & they didn’t push when I said I wasn’t up to it.
    –They shared stories & memories of my late husband.
    –They give me hugs.
    –Some offered to make a donation in his honor. (It’s so much better than sending me flowers.)

    Some of the “wrong” things people said:
    –“You’re still young….Do you think you’ll date again?” (This was a couple of weeks after he died; I can’t remember who said this because I blocked it out of my memory. Why would anyone think this is appropriate?!)
    –“Of course, you’ll move back to the U.S., right?” (It was my sister who said that & I immediately, firmly shut down that topic of conversation. My life is here now & I don’t want to leave.)
    –“You don’t look very well….Are you eating & sleeping?” (Yes, I’m perfectly aware that I look like crap & lost 10% of my body weight….I don’t need you to remind me)
    –There are those who want to “help” by telling me what I should or shouldn’t do. Those comments generally go in one ear & out the other. I’m sure they mean well, but I’m an adult & can think for myself.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      Thank you so much for sharing these insights, Holly! I’m so glad there were good people in your life who did the right things and supported you in affirming ways. On the other hand I’m really sorry you got some rude, insensitive comments as well. I hope people will make more of an effort to consider the effects their words can have on people, especially those who are hurting.

    • Holly

      One more thing to add. Others have mentioned that sometimes the grieving person simply wants to be alone, & I definitely agree. Shortly before my husband’s burial, a lifelong friend of his (someone I barely know) emailed me to say that he was thinking of coming here for the burial. Honestly, the last thing I wanted was to feel as though I had to entertain a visitor, whether or not they stayed at my home. I subtly (at least I think I was subtle) mentioned that it’s not easy to get from the U.S. to where I live in France, and it’s a long way to travel for a short visit, though I appreciate his desire to be here to pay respects to his friend. I told him I’m not very good company these days. He got the hint but had he not, I was preparing an email to kindly but firmly ask that he not come. I felt awkward, selfish, & ungrateful, but I truly did not want a visitor, & hoped he would understand. I’m proud that I had the courage to say what I wanted. He might visit at a later date, but by then I should be better able to handle it.

      Bottom line: ask, don’t assume you know what the person wants or needs

  40. Stephanie

    Marie, this is beautiful…thank you so much for this episode.

    When my (estranged) husband died of suicide 11 years ago, I had virtually no support. A few cards, but people for the most part went silent. Disappeared. I’m sure they didn’t know what to say, or maybe they didn’t realize the depth of my grief because we were estranged, for maybe the socially unacceptable way he died froze them. Whatever the case, it was beyond devastating to be left alone amidst such tragedy.

    I would underscore your advise for death responses and add one:
    – reach out. ask how you can help. say you are sorry. be strong enough to let me cry in front of you.
    – check in months later – I am STILL GRIEVING.
    – talk about the person!!!! They still exist in your heart, and ALWAYS will. Bringing them up will NOT make me sad, it will give great comfort that you recognize their permanence in my heart and soul.

    And to add one:
    PLEASE DON’T ask how they died!! It’s incredibly rude. People die in all kinds of horrific ways that the grieving loved one may not want to share. Talking about the person gives comfort, but talking of their death can literally be traumatizing.

    Thank you, Marie. Again, so beautiful and much needed.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      These are such important tips, Stephanie, especially that last one. I hate that people would ask you to satisfy their morbid curiosity when you’re grieving. Definitely a good lesson to us all.

  41. It’s also important to realize the person whom you are consoling is processing an overwhelming amount of emotions and other stimuli, and not to take all their behavior or statements too personally. Whether it is bouts of laughter or being abrupt, the grieving individual is processing in the best way they can. Do not judge. As Marie said, let them know you are there for them.

    Also, only offer to do “anything you need” if you are truly in a position to follow through. For instance, if you are heading out of town for a two week trip the next day, then be clear about your parameters (e.i. ” I’m leaving tomorrow, but will be back in two weeks, and will check in with you to see if there is anything I can do for you. In the meantime, you are in my thoughts”)

    THANK YOU MARIE, for this reminder about compassion and support!

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      These are really helpful, Toni. Thank you so much for sharing your insights.

  42. Angela Horne

    I have found that just being there, listening without judgment or comment or opinion has really helped. Sending a physical card really helped too. I have never had children so when a friend lost her only child to a sudden illness, I remember saying, “I cannot begin to imagine the depths of your pain. My heart goes out to you.” My friend and her husband later sought grief counseling and now have two more beautiful children.

  43. This is great, Marie. My mother died in a car accident when I was 14. My little brother, Jimmy Ryce, was kidnapped and murdered when I was 19. It became a major news story in Miami, FL and my parents even went on Oprah and met with Bill Clinton to spread the word about how to help missing children.

    Then when I though I had been through the worst life would ever throw at me, my sister committed suicide in 2013. Unfortunately, I have a lot of experience with people saying the right and wrong things and agree with everything you and your friends have said. And I’ve heard all of these.

    I would also like to add a what-not-to-do. Don’t say something you don’t mean–especially something like “Let me know if there’s anything I can do” when you don’t care that much. A neighbor of mine found out that my sister committed suicide and said she would bake me cookies and never did. It didn’t break my heart but I have zero trust in anything she says.

    Make sure you’re sincere with what you say and follow up if you promise something. Also, don’t feel obligated to do more than you’re comfortable with just because of the situation.

    Last thing I’ll say is that I really appreciate what you said about coming by with food or making sure to spend time with the person. I had friends and people I didn’t even know so well do that and it made a world of difference. When people show you that they care with their actions, it speaks volumes about how they feel.

    Thanks again and keep inspiring! – Ted Ryce

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      I’m so sorry to hear the extreme hardships you’ve faced, Ted. Your point about how people need to be sincere when comforting a grieving person is definitely good advice.

  44. Frances Zapanta

    Love this. Thank you Marie!

  45. Marie – I love your willingness to address a tough topic. It’s not all about selling one more course or making one more dollar. I appreciate it when leaders like you show your desire to share life together with your followers.

  46. Mandie

    Excellent, excellent suggestions, Marie. One thing that makes my heart sink is to hear, “How are you doing?” or “How are you feeling?” It seems a trite thing to say, when it’s so obvious how I’m feeling….do I really have to answer with a feeble, “oh…i’m okay”. Maybe it’s just me….it would be nice to hear what others think about asking such a question at a time of extreme grief.

    • Holly

      I usually just shrug in reply to that question. Really, what can I say?

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      That’s a really good point, Mandie. I can see how it’d be painful to feel pressured to explain your feelings when you’re going through a difficult time.

  47. Andi

    Thank you so much for sharing this post. It took me a few years and closer to home experiences to fully appreciate the value of your tweetable. It really is better to say something rather than nothing. I think the issue is that we can sadly (selfishly?) find other peoples pain just too scary at times. This is still something I have to work hard at moving beyond. In this as in many other matters, doing the right thing isn’t always easy. But it’s still the right thing as we try to work towards a kinder world. I love that you chose to tackle this issue. THANK YOU! And next time I’m stuck, I have some new resources to check out and make sure I get the job done quickly rather than leaving it as a malingering good intention that benefits no one. Wishing us all peace and courage as we build that better world

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      I think you’re right about people finding other people’s pain overwhelming and scary, Andi. Sometimes it seems like people are afraid pain and hardship are contagious so they pretend it doesn’t exist, and that’s not right.

  48. Jaynie

    I appreciate this video so much today. Yesterday, we found out that my sister in law was pregnant, and everyone was excited, and then 2 hours later found out that she had an advanced ectopic pregnancy and they had to remove the entire fallopian tube and baby. She could have died if they did not find it sooner and if the surgery had not been successful. They went from elation to shock and sadness and it was so hard to reach out to them. We brought dinner to them when they got home. But this is a good reminder to keep reaching out.

    Also, I appreciate that you talked about how to respond to someone when they go through a disaster and their entire home, business or way of life is destroyed or uprooted. I went through this last year when our home was flooded in a storm, and my family and I were devastated physically, emotionally, and financially. Yes, we had insurance and this was actually one of the hugest sources of stress for the following year and a half that it took to rebuild, recover, and process the insurance claim to finally get an insurance payment. We were caught for the better part of a year between a rock and hard place with no place to live, no money, and astronomical expenses of trying to rebuild before insurance would approve or make any payment. Insurance doesn’t pay for relocating while you are displaced from flooding. I cannot begin to even convey the total loss we experienced, but this was compounded by the fact that it felt like very few people who were around us who did not go through the same type of experience had any understanding or compassion for what we were going through. Much of our family and most of our friends didn’t see it as a big deal that we lost our home. It was hard to see people and have them talk about their regular daily life and cares while we were going through this really hard time. It would have been amazing if our family had offered to help in specific ways – a dinner here or there. I would have appreciated my boss or any of my coworkers offering their sympathy. This was not a “remodel” of our house, our home was destroyed. No one ever seemed to get that.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      That’s a really good point, Jaynie. Not only is the “at least you have insurance” comment insensitive in general, it also assumes that insurance is a magic wand you can wave and have everything fixed in no time. Clearly, that’s not the case. I’m really sorry you and your family had to go through that.

  49. Thank you for this post. On this day one year ago, my mom passed away. She was 46 and it was sudden. I don’t believe grieving will stop anytime soon for me or my younger siblings but I hope that posts like this continue to be produced and accessible to those in need of the comfort. Love your community.

    It was very uncomfortable, still is. I haven’t made it to the point where folks stop asking, “How’s your mama nem?”, being from the south. It’s a lot and it took a lot for me to even want to go back out to work or the grocery. A few offered hugs and kind words, which were grately appreciated. Others wanted to know how or if she was sick or what happened. There was one overly offensive comment about me needing to be fired for time off during my grieving.
    What I’d like to leave you with is on this day, one year later…. I still feel every word that helped lift me up and arms that held me but I also still feel the pain and guilt of not being able to not be so emotional or just get back to normal, as some would’ve hoped.

    Maya Angelou said it best, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

    The Truth

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      So true, Brittney. I’m really sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. I hope the people in your life are wrapping you in love and light today and every day.

  50. Jennifer

    When I’ve written condolence cards in the past, I’ve include this:

    “I once read someone talking about the loss of a loved one. They said the pain doesn’t get less, because you don’t love them any less, it’s just that, with time, the world around you gets bigger. It’s a perspective I hadn’t considered before and I wanted to share it with you at this difficult time.”

    For me, it’s a better way of saying ‘time will heal’ because it does’t for everyone. Some people still feel the pain as much years later as they did when the loss happened. But it may at least get smaller in comparison.

  51. If an illness is made known to you, please don’t avoid that person. Be there, even for a coffee or tea or an evening out. Organize meals or other services i.e. carpools, baby sitting etc. Offer some loving distractions that they can enjoy.

  52. when my love died of breast cancer, it seems as if everyone ran away.
    Don’t be afraid and don’t run away. Stick with them. Food is good. Try not to complain about your job, your love life, or other complaints. They don’t care right now. And reach out months afterwards. The pain stays for a long, long time.

  53. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes several years ago. I had almost died and the road to wellness and recovery was a long one. It’s unbelievable how many times I heard (and still hear about someone’s aunt who had to have their leg amputated, jokes about how people who eat sugar get “diabeetus”, how kale or name-the-thing can cure diabetes, and how many people “could never do that” (i.e. give myself injections and check my blood sugar – trust me, if you had to do it to save your life, you would!). Those are terrible things to say and I can’t tell you how much it still makes me want to pull my hair out when I hear them.

    What I did hear that was incredibly thoughtful and helpful were simple things like, “wow, that must be hard, is there anything I can do to help.” or anything along the lines of just simply acknowledging the struggle I was going through and offering support – whether it was emotional or physical or just showing up and being present. People who were ignorant about diabetes and just asked me honest questions – that was great! I didn’t care that they didn’t know. I appreciated their honesty about being ignorant, rather than pretending they knew everything about it. I loved being able to share my journey and what I was learning, particularly when that person was genuinely interested in me.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      Thank you so much, Danie. I hate that you got so many thoughtless comments. I hope people, on the whole, are supportive and genuinely care.

  54. Mandy

    If “If there’s anything I can do…” comes out, follow through. I heard that so much after my dad died. I let a handful of people know I just wanted held. No need to verbally comfort me or do more than a hug that doesn’t let go. Words falling flat to a need I saw as so simple when I hurt so deeply made me resentful years later.
    A grieving person does not need to wonder more in life at a time it’s been shaken open. Don’t ask/offer if you really will not be there with a safe place to fall. It’s guaranteed to hurt regardless.

  55. I’ve responded to a close friend who recently lost a brother but still feel I need to say and do more. The snail mail card is a great idea so I’ll send one right away. Thank you for the tips on consoling, they are much-needed.

  56. I lost touch with My Pastor of 20 years ago. I’ll see her tomorrow. Her reason for seeking me out is that she needs clarity in her time of loss. I’ve been agonizing about what to say and what not to say even though I’ve always been a safe place to land for people in crisis. I will definitely hold her hand tomorrow and I will be checking in on her. I will offer specific help, too. God Bless you.

  57. Elizabeth

    What do you say to someone or a family member of someone who shares with you that they have been through horrible abuse like rape or child abuse? People have shared this with me and I honestly don’t know what to say. I usually just end up giving them a hug and telling them that they can reach out to me anytime that they want and I will keep them in my prayers. Is this helpful/not helpful?

    • Lisa

      Elizabeth, those are hard stories to hear. I think your response is perfect.

    • Erin Waterman

      They are fortunate you are in the world to listen. Your instincts seem right on to me.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      That’s a really good question, Elizabeth. I think one of the most important things is just listening without judgement. Rape culture, or the normalization of victim-blaming (i.e., “she asked for it” kind of talk and actions), is a very real, painful thing in this country and around the world. To be entrusted with horrific stories means they see you as a safe person. Being there for them, validating their emotions, listening and allowing them to process those feelings, and not judging them are so very important. It sounds like you’re doing that already, which is wonderful.

  58. Liz

    This is such an important post. Thank you so much Marie.

    I resonated with the part about sharing stories with another who is going through loss. I lost my father last December–suddenly and while the two of us were “talking story.” As you might expect, the moments around the loss became moments on which I found myself dwelling, constantly. The problem was, it was difficult to push myself to think about or remember other things and the persistence of these memories meant that the stress of those moments–the tragedy of those moments–persisted.

    The stories that others shared with me about my father were a connecting kindness and so much more. They were a lifeline, easing me away from the tragedy into the fuller measure of my father. The stories were essential to my own well-being.

    I’m so very grateful for those stories and am grateful that you’ve included them as a tip here.

  59. I miscarried my first baby. I was 6 weeks along and devastated with the loss. The nurse who came in told me that at least it happened “now and not 18 years later, like it did to me. My daughter was murdered by her ex boyfriend.” Needless to say, I was stunned by her story and also her attempt at consoling me. I understand how knowing someone for 18 years might not equate to knowing a baby before it takes its first breath… BUT that child was still a precious being to me! So my advice…go with the advice Marie shares. Don’t try to minimize someone’s loss. No matter if you’ve been through a similar story…you can never fully understand the pain in their hearts.

    • That was inconsiderate and insensitive. I’m sorry. (Hugs)

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      I’m so, so sorry that happened, Lisa! The nurse’s comments were definitely insensitive—minimizing your experience and spinning the situation to be all about her. I hope the other people you encountered were much more supportive and genuinely helpful.

  60. Please don’t say, “I know exactly how you feel.”
    I don’t care if you’ve been through the same thing as me, you have no idea how I feel. AND…by you saying that, you’ve just made it all about you.

    Please don’t say, “Let me know how I can help.”
    That puts it on the victim to think about what they need/want. They are grieving…they can’t think right now. If you want to help:
    – do they have a dog that needs walking?
    – do they need help making a list of people to notify? (No, you won’t be calling people but maybe they need help with just sorting their thoughts)
    – If you know the family well enough, do they need someone to pick the kids up from school, pick a relative up from the airport, etc?

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      This is excellent advice, Yolanda! Thank you for sharing it.

  61. Mandana

    Good episode Marie,
    But I don’t agree with some of your dos & don’t!
    This is depends on every individual what to like to hear or not.
    I’m sure if you know that person well so you know what to say to comfort her.
    Unless you don’t know them well then your dos & don’t make more sense.
    I’m a big fan of you, and thank you for your great episodes!

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      Thanks, Mandana! We encourage you to trust your inner wisdom and do what you feel is best for you and the person who’s suffering.

  62. TJ

    Thank you. This is a needed conversation. For over 25 years I have helped patients and families through the grief journey in many situations and earned a lot of your points of discussion through trial and error. Then I became the person struggling with loss. The situation was made even more difficult because of the nature of the death and relationship. My partner committed suicide standing in front of me following an abusive relationship. Even though abuse in any form is wrong, I still grieved the good parts of the man I fell in love with. I am blessed by supportive family and friends (chosen family) so I am moving forward. Unfortunately, there were many special people that I have lost contact that struggled with what to say and/or do to help. Through my healing, I have reached out and the truly special people are now in my life again. This life lesson is one no one wants to talk about…even myself. Thank you again for this message, it will be paid forward.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      Thank you so much for opening your heart and sharing your wisdom with us, TJ. We’re sending tons of love your way on your healing journey.

      • Tj

        The light after so much darkness is something that brings me joy. A joy inside i thought i would not find again. That darkness helped me look closer in the mirror and look inside. After making the decision to make changes. That decision led me to find the positive energy of Marie Forleo. She is one of the positive influences I have learned from the last two years. Thank you again.

  63. Thank you, thank you, thank you for addressing this topic. You already covered most of the great points from my experience with tragedy. Here is what I found most helpful when I had to relocate and give up my job literally overnight in order to save my child’s life from a tumor around her heart and help administer 2 years of powerful toxic drugs, while simultaneously undergoing a legal fight and protection order over changes to our post-divorce parenting plan with her dad: “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.” “Can I bring my child by to sit with you for a moment and share coffee?” And from a hospital chaplain when I sat at my daughter’s bedside while she was in isolation: “I understand you like to knit. I was at a craft store and picked up this yarn for you.” Mostly people offering their presence was helpful to me, even if they didn’t know what to say. In addition, when a young child is involved or someone is a primary caregiver, offering moments of respite are a godsend and much appreciated. I could go for a walk and connect with the natural world, which is my greatest solace in life above and beyond people.

    What I found least helpful that you already mentioned was: 1) “God gives you no more than you can handle.” 2) When my daughter formed a close friendship with a 6-year-old girl who had one of the least survivable diagnoses, I was horrified to be told by other parents, “You shouldn’t let your child be friends with her.” I firmly believe, especially when living communally for a year with other families impacted by life-threatening illnesses, there is no one exempt from friendship. Death is part of all of our journeys, regardless of age. Watching that child later go through hospice at home with a loving family at age 7 was one of my own child’s biggest educations and one I am grateful we were able to witness.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      Thank you so much, Erin. You brought up some really good points, especially about caregivers needing respite.

  64. Hollis Rendleman

    This was so perfect! My dad died last month, and I realized all the things I wish I had done differently in supporting people through their grief as I was not always getting the support I needed.

    Marie, this is reiterating your point, but so, so important! “Let me know how I can help/if you need anything” put the responsibility back on me. And there were days I was proud of myself for getting out of bed–there was no way I could coordinate someone else’s activities and schedule. It would have been so much more helpful if someone said, “I’m coming by with food and a hug. You can tell me to leave or to stay.”

    The other thing that was amazing were the friends that were willing to hold on during a hug–well past the customary 2 or 3 seconds. That’s when I lost it, and it always felt cathartic. Hold a friend in a tight embrace and just let them cry. They will be forever grateful.

  65. As someone who has been on the receiving end of some unusual comments after my husband died, it’s important to know that nothing you can say is going to make that death better. It can’t be made better. So if you come from that standpoint, you can’t get it right either. Sadly, you can be clumsy as some people are, through ignorance or misunderstanding. But this kind of post really can help.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      That really puts it into perspective. Thank you, Jane!

  66. Gail

    Excellent and timely advice.

    I did cringe a time or two since I have been guilty of a couple of the “what not to say” now I will be able to approach difficult situations with more awareness.

    Thank you

  67. Sara

    When my mother was hospitalized and in critical condition I didn’t hear from a good friend for some time and when I did it was via text, I was deeply hurt by this.
    I realized though that I didn’t want to feel angry or hurt towards her, I think we also have to go easy on the person on the other end even though they are not the one in pain (I also believe not doing so will only cause more unnecessary pain). You just never know how they are dealing, she had suffered a huge loss in the past so it wasn’t that she wouldn’t understand, I think maybe she understood the magnitude more than anyone and may have felt a bit paralyzed not having fully come to terms with her own personal experience…I don’t know. All I know is that we do the best with the type of character/flaws we’ve all ended up with and there’s no point dwelling or personalizing how other people respond in any given situation. It’s not say it’s easy, in the perfect world we would all face our fears, get past ourselves and say the right thing but not everyone can do this.

  68. Virginia Reeves

    Marie – you covered this sensitive topic so nicely, thanks. My 63 year old brother was in a serious motorcycle accident 2 months ago – he’s in rehab now after 7 weeks in hospitals. He’s going to be okay but now has to deal with an amputated foot and part of the leg. I continually urge friends and family to send cards – the staff at each place says he probably holds the record for the most cards they’ve ever seen a patient have. I put many of them up in his room to remind him how much support he has. I took over all his paperwork immediately so he didn’t have to worry about it. When I visit I take goodies to eat, bought new clothes that are easier to get in and out of, and take him on outings to get out of the facility. No matter how small the action, thought or gift, it is appreciated. I’ve been to the dollar store for fun items. As you state, when they know you care and take the time to demonstrate it – it’s even more powerful than a phone or written message.

  69. Great video. I really needed this.
    This was very informative and the pace was excellent because it got right to the key points and had me engaged the entire time. Sometimes, I encounter videos on other sites with helpful info but it takes too long to extract that info and I check out. This video was perfect. Thanks Maria!

  70. Love this. And so perfectly timed! I just had a friend lose her father to cancer, and have been searching for the right things to say. Good to know there aren’t a laundry list of “right things” to say, and that we can keep it simple with kind, genuinely loving, non-invasive words. I know when I experienced a death in my family, I didn’t want anyone to pity me or to say “at least.” I would have LOVED to have someone I loved/trusted take me out to lunch, sit me down, and say, “Tell me about your grandpa.” That would have been the best relief and release for me at that time. It’s amazing what a little love can do!

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      It sounds like your heart is in the right place, Yuki. It’s wonderful of you to be there for your friend during this challenging time for her.

  71. My mom has a lovely habit of marking the one year anniversary of the death on her calendar so she remembers to send a card or call the person who lost a loved one. I need to adopt this practice for myself since our society expects people to “hurry up and grieve.” This is a simple way to reach out and express that you know it still hurts.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      Yes! That’s so smart. Thanks for this great tip, Kate.

  72. Wonderful that you are sharing this! You have a great platform on which to do so. Death, dying, grief and loss touches everyone of us, and when we seek to be more compassionate, most often the right words come out, even if a bit awkward. Intention is a wonderful guidance system. As an end-of-life educator, and trainer, the wisdom we share that is most helpful is… “Meet them where they are”. If they are railing against God and humanity – hold space, validate (which is not agreeing or conflicting with one’s own beliefs, BTW), and be fully present. If they are in the depths of sorrow, be there, fully present, not joining their pain, but just being with it. It can be hard to witness another’s pain, but it can also be a mystical journey, for the both the griever and the compassionate companion. Suffering can be lessened by the ones who bravely open to the possibility that grief calls us to be fully human.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      This is so important, Patty! Thank you. Meeting the person where they are is spot on.

  73. Thank you for this! So helpful that I will be sharing it with others.

    Here’s how not to react when you hear devastating news:
    A couple of years ago when my stepfather died, I told a person whom I thought was a close friend over dinner one night. Her response was harsh, “Well, you didn’t like him anyway!!” Wow.

    I rarely talked about my parents so that was a harsh assumption. My stepfather was a good dad to me. Because my mother has a personality disorder, she managed to poison all relationships near and far and prevented me from getting to know him as an adult -so my grief was deep. As I ran a successful business, I longed for his approval and never could seek his counsel due to her jealousy.

    When your friends come from broken homes and someone in their past dies, they still grieve. They grieve for many reasons -some dark, complicated, and unknown. The best thing you could start and end with is, “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      Thank you so much for sharing your story, Lisa. This is definitely a good thing for us all to remember.

  74. Kimon Tinker

    Thank you for this video. I have always been pretty blank when in these situations and have leaned towards saying nothing.

  75. Joanne G. Larkins

    Thank you so much for this episode. I am dealing with a situation involving the death of a loved one. I have been concerned that I may be saying the wrong things, however, after watching this show, it is not so bad, as I thought.
    And you have given me a few tools, to help my loved one, with their loss. So thank you, so much.
    The webpages of the people you citing was particularly useful. Thank you.
    JG Larkins

    • Joanne G. Larkins

      Ooops, darn it, sorry, it should have said “The webpages of the people you cited was particularly useful. Thank you.” Thank you again.

  76. Debra

    I just buried my 28 year old sister about a week ago and this post truly helped me. I’m 27 and she was my very best friend. No matter who I talk to, no one can come close to the bond we shared. I have noticed that in my tragedy of her loss that many people do not know what to say. But, I’m so happy Marie gave tips to effectively show love, care, and concern for those who are facing hardships. Offering advice is not the way, but being of understanding and support opens the doors for love to flow to the heart of the broken. Some think their comments of “she’s in a better place” makes you feel better, but it doesn’t when she has 3 small children under the age of 4 that will not grow up with their mother. When you don’t understand the situation, and you cannot empathize let cards speak words for you. Cards, as Marie mention are very helpful. Also, nothing beats the physical expression such as showing your love and being there. Actively, being there for those who are hurt. So, Marie thanks for touching on this topic that is so strong and dear to me. You are truly awesome and an inspiration.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      I’m so, so sorry to hear of your sister’s passing, Debra. We’ll be thinking of you and holding you and your family in our hearts.

  77. Great tips Marie! I’m someone who recently lost someone.

  78. When I was widowed at the age of 24 I remember how difficult it was to have people say to me -“At least you are young, you can meet someone else.” or “At least you didn’t have children yet.” It took a long time to figure things out for myself. It’s been over 30 years since then and I did remarry, have a child and have lived a full life. A couple of years ago I realized that I wanted to use my own experience to help others deal with their losses – Your Sheltering Tree was born and is still taking shape. One of the things I have learned is that you don’t get over grief, you learn to live with it. If someone you know is experiencing a loss, be there for them without judgement or advice. There is nothing you can do to change the situation or fix it for them. Offer your support. Let them feel their feelings.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and helping others through Your Sheltering Tree. I know everyone you work with is so thankful to have that support system.

  79. I agree that to send a snail mail card might be best, but not always possible. When appropriate (if I know the deceased) I will send an email/card with an acrostic name poem done with the name of the deceased. It serves as a story recalling what this person positively brought to my life.

    My worst “don’t” that happened to me after my mother died in 2008 came from a long time friend. His reaction while telling him what I had felt just before her last breath was to let me know that my feelings’ interpretation of unconditional love felt were not accurate. I was stunned.

    Feelings are feelings and cannot be judged but to be listened to. It is after that that I became a coach in The Connection Practice (also known as BePeace Practice) learning and helping people how to give empathy. To openly, honestly and peacefully express our feelings is not a weakness but a sane way to learn to know and love ourselves, therefore others.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      You’re so right, Monique. Thank you for sharing your experiences and helping others through The Connection Practice.

  80. As someone who lost her husband in July suddenly and very unexpectedly (he was 40 years old), I really appreciate this video. Although I’ve had some amazing support with kind words in the last few months, I’ve also suffered astonishing tactlessness from some people. It is deeply upsetting when it happens. Having done BSchool two years in a row, I was due to launch my business the week after my husband died. That has now been put on hold. Hope I can find some strength to get going again next year. In any case, thank you so much Marie for posting this very important video.
    Best wishes,

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      We’re sending buckets of love your way, Ingela. I hope the B-School community has been supportive during this challenging time.

  81. Wow, just reading these comments is really bringing up emotion about my parents deaths. Dad dies in 2008 and Mom in 2014. This is a great reminder that time does decrease the sense of loss we feel and how important it is to really connect with someone long after the death of a loved one. I also agree with Michelle about not ‘saintifying’ the person. At my Dad’s funeral, there were so many people there because of his community contributions and they all had something positive to say, but the one comment that really stuck with me, was a cousin who spoke about what a bastard my dad could be. He spoke about my real father, the one who showed up in the good and the bad.
    My heart goes out to all of you who are going through anything traumatic right now. I am sending you a virtual hug.

  82. Chris

    Marie – another great episode. I completely agree with everything you said. I had a miscarriage at the beginning of my marriage and the worst thing people said to me was, “It was meant to be.” That one comment made me so frustrated and didn’t seem like they really cared. What helped me the most was when people shared that either they had had a miscarriage, or someone they loved had had one. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone and really helped me get through it. The best gift I received was from my sister-in-law, who gave me a ceramic angel to represent the lost baby. It was a way to validate my feelings and gave me something to symbolize my loss.

  83. Giovanna

    Hi Marie,
    Such an important topic! Unfortunately, many people are not prepped in the proper words to say, so this is something more people should share. Both my parents died around retirement age, suddenly, at separate times. My father died of a head trauma, in one day. The one thing I was hurt by the most was hearing, “oh at least he didn’t have to suffer long, he went quick”. There is no “perfect way to die” is what I’d like to tell everyone. Not if you loved that person, regardless of how long they lived or how they died. It was a horrific shock, when people would compare their losses of those with Alzheimer’s or cancer (and I also suffered that loss), as if there was a competition of whose pain/grief was allowed to be greater. We were not at all prepared or expecting a sudden death, it’s a shock. My other advice would be, don’t disappear after the funeral. Grief is a long, challenging ride with lots of twists and turns and you need to hear and see from people periodically. A lot goes wrong when the dust settles, after all the attention is gone.
    Thank you for shining some light on this very sensitive subject that we are all going to experience.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      This is all really good advice, Giovanna. Thank you so much for sharing it. And you’re so right that grief is not a competition—we’re all allowed to feel what we need to feel and grieve in the way that makes sense for us.

      • Giovanna

        Thanks Mandy! <3

  84. In Ireland, we show up, shake hands and just say “sorry for your loss” and no more. In fact it would be the height of bad manners to ask how the person died, or suggest that they are in a better place now or that it was a relief from their suffering (you knows) etc. And of course it’s extremely important with a close friend (families can be more difficult as funerals tend to bring out the worst rather than the best in people) to keep in touch but allow the person time and space to grieve too. I think people often underestimate how long that can take again who knows, for many it can be another lifetime.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      That’s so wonderful, Susan. Sometimes “sorry for your loss” is all that needs to be said.

  85. Marie thanks for putting this out there. I lost my father when I was 7 and I remember returning to school after the summer holidays and the deafening silence around this loss. My teachers had told the class not to mention it to me – even to my seven year old self that seemed so odd! Luckily some kids have a way of ignoring the advice of adults, and I remember one friend coming up to me at my desk and talking to me about it directly and I was so grateful to her. It didnt really matter what she said, I knew her intention was to connect/to comfort and that was enough for me.

    I wish ours was a culture that honoured death more. So few of us are really allowed to grieve – -and not only that, we kind of don’t even know how to go about it in the first place. This episode will go towards remedying that and also some lessons here for me too to reflect on: thank you.


    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      That’s so spot on, Laura. Our culture tends to act like ignoring grief is the key to making it go away, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

  86. Marie, thank you so much for this important post.

    I am someone who has not been directly affected by a tragedy like the death of a close friend or family member (only my pets), and when it happens to others I know I could never feel what they feel at the time, I can only emphasise. It’s good to see perspectives from all angles about what to say and not to say to people who ARE going through a difficult time in their life.

    I am all for reaching out with snail mail rather than social media, because that personal touch could never be replaced by an emoji or Facebook reaction. Don’t stay quiet and say nothing, let them know you acknowledge their situation and feelings. Do offer support, love, and show up for them, when they need it but without suffocating them.

  87. I would love to be able to teach the world a simple answer to “I have to do fertility treatments.” It goes, “Wow! Good for you. I really admire that you are controlling your own destiny. I know it is a lot of hard work, but your child-to-be is so lucky to born into a family that wants him/her as much as I know you do.”

  88. Mary Harrison

    Don’t say to the person that has just lost their partner (or their parents/In laws) “Don’t worry, they will find someone else”. That happened to my Mum after my husband passed. We hadn’t even had his funeral. He died almost 9 years ago and I still remember that vividly.

  89. Aaaah, thank you darling woman! I have had a lot of experience of this in many forms throughout my life and work and have been intending to write more – have a half finished ‘new mythology’ around death and grief etc. You’ve put it together so well and SAID it … Opened the subject … I am grateful for the gentle kick in my touche to DO IT and finish that book as well! I see it as such an individual and personal journey – none of us have experienced it exactly as each other – each one has so many aspects that are theirs only, but not alone. It is always so ‘alive’ with poignant change, revelation and deep soul searching and I have noticed how it is a reflection of the birth process as well. Much love …

  90. #5 is so important–keep checking in! I also sometimes say, “I don’t need any details, I just want you to know I’m thinking about you.” And snail mail makes a huge difference. Great reminders.

  91. Well done, Marie. You covered this beautifully. As a psychologist and Buddhist teacher, I am usually able to find the right words. But my friends, family and patients often ask me…”what can I possibly say?” I suggest that they not overlook the power of compassionate silence. First, the words – “I am so sorry. I don’t really know what to say. But I am here.” Then sit together. Place a hand on their arm, hold their hand, or hug if those feel appropriate.

  92. Erica

    Its been 6 months since i tragically lost my husband. Throughout this time i think the best thing for people to do is continually check in and do things randomly for me. Its really hard for me to jusr call you up and ask you to do things for me but seriously there’s so much to be done all the time as i take on every other role my husband played in our household. How about ask if you can babysit? Ask specifically what you can do otherwise its just words. I’m grateful for all the words don’t get me wrong but if you really want to help come over and lets do something to keep my focus positive and take on the enormous amount of crap i need to do. ?

  93. Cait Clarke

    Don’t hold to the idea that there are 7 stages of grief. One of the misconceptions about losing a loved one is that there is a sequence of dealing with a loss that everybody goes through. Having lost my mum, my son and then my husband one after the other within a 20-month period, I cam assure you there is no set time for grieving, no sameness from one loss to another, no “oh, you’ve been through this before”, no “getting over” a loss (you just get used to that person not being there… mostly…. sometimes…..). The phrase “Oh, you’re in stage # of grieving” might be meant well, but those sets of emotions are not necessarily markers on a path, they are not linear, and they sometimes come all at once. DO ask someone how they are feeling/doing, and don’t project how you do/would feel about the loss of a loved one of your own onto them. You are not them. Even if you have lost the same degree of family member that they have lost, you are still not them. Your relationship to your lost one, say your parent, might be vastly different to the relationship the grieving person had with theirs. ASK. Never assume. And let them know you are there for them.

  94. Nadja

    This episode meant so much for me! I’m looking for help with a situation: A few months ago a child died tragically in an accident. I don’t know the parents that well, just a bit, but I think about them constantly. How can I offer them my help or love when I’m not really close to them? I don’t want to cross any lines.
    Thanks for any suggestions.

  95. This is so wild as just TODAY I launched my ‘Crossover Coaching’ (life + death coaching) service and I’m sooo happy to see Marie shine a light on this dark topic as well!
    My best friend’s mom passed just last week and it was hard to know the right things to say or do, especially since she wasn’t in the same city.
    However, what seemed to help a lot was a candle ritual. I had a few of her close friends all light a candle in her honour and then take a picture of it and send it to me. I made a quick collage of the photos and wrote ‘Holding light for you in this dark time’ and sent it to her so she knew we were all thinking of her and holding energetic space for her. This was helpful for us as well since we were also heavy-hearted, at a loss for words, and wanting to show our friend we were with her in spirit.
    I’d encourage anyone reading this to do the same for your loved ones who are struggling or in a ‘dark time’ right now.

  96. Deidre

    Wow! This post couldn’t have come at a better time. My darling Uncle Don died yesterday morning after a brief illness. These do’s and don’t will be helpful as I reunite with his wife and their sons later this week. We’re gathering on Thursday for Thanksgiving and celebrating his life this Saturday. Thank you, Marie, Kris, Jo, David and Andi! The readers comments are also very helpful. Mwah! Love, Deedums

  97. Julie

    We learned a few days ago that our son and his wife miscarried their first child in very difficult circumstances. I did my best to convey how sorry I am at the time, although I must admit a few seconds after the initial words, I unintentionally stopped listening for a little while, as I was shocked. So staying present is a challenge I need to meet.
    Also my lingering thought is when our children hurt, we hurt so I reiterated with both of them the next day that I will continue to be sympathetic and supportive as long as they need me to be, in whatever capacity they choose.
    As a future grandparent, I too ache.

  98. Elle

    Dear Marie, Thank you for the wonderful message. Every point you made is true. My husband passed away in weeks from an extremely aggressive bone + lung cancer. We’d only been married 2 yrs. People did the ‘At least’ {I should be grateful} even with that, insinuating that someone married longer… or sick longer… {fill in the blank}. What people said was often shocking because they were parroting or not thinking. Like all the things you listed not to say. Or they said/did nothing at all, and never spoke his name again, like he’d never existed {this was the majority}. I quickly discovered just how uncomfortable people were about death. So they avoided it at all cost. But if they would stop and think how uncomfortable they felt, then try to fathom the enormity of what the other person is going through. I realize people often didn’t know what to say or feared saying the wrong thing, but saying nothing {uncomfortable} was a deeply lonely place. It’s OK to say “I don’t know what to say. I’m so sorry. How can I help?” and “May I have your number and I’ll check in on you?” Both are wonderful caring things to say/hear and takes the burden off the person, as this season can be overwhelming. Sharing memories is also positive and healing. Asking people how they’re was doing {well meaning of course}, not so much. It proved mostly just a question. People need more than words. They need to connect. They need human contact. Pick them up, sit with them over coffee, go for a walk. Compassion is shown in action. Just be there WITH them in that moment. Don’t assume other people are helping. Reach out – Call them. Repeat, repeat, repeat. It takes time to get through this. The reality, it takes months {not days or weeks}. Loss is no respecter of convenience. After my husband’s funeral, weeks went by before anyone called. Maybe they assumed someone else was. So never assume anything. One person said, well I thought you’d call if you needed something. Fact is, many of of don’t want to be a burden, and we’re overwhelmed, which are two reasons that doesn’t work. So please reach out to us. Regarding “At least…” @ 3:24 {Forced Gratitude}. Please, please, don’t ever ever say this. It comes off horribly cold + disconnected. Just be there. Love them. It’s a verb and so is caring. Finally, if I can share one thing. It’s really easy to do. Organize some friends/family/neighbors/coworkers. Someone for each day of the week, and have them call on that day. Say they’re being remembered and care {verb}. Offer to do something {bring dinner, visit, etc}. Put in in your calendar and call. And if you really want to help, offer your talents. Vehicles, taxes, handwork, cooking, cleaning, making people laugh :), it’s all a tremendous and meaningful help. Please avoid the trap of assume others are helping. Remember, we’re social beings, body soul spirit, and the human connection is the power-filled difference which assists one’s process in healing ♥

  99. Loved this edition – all insightful and true. Not long after my father died I wrote about grief as I saw how my friends, and acquaintances, struggled to deal with it on my behalf. Not sure it’s the done thing but here is the link, in case anyone is interested (feel free to remove it if it’s not appropriate)

  100. Kellie

    These truly hit the nail on the head. Now, the hardest part is figuring out how to ‘be’ with someone sometimes. Thank you for all these tips.

  101. Great topic Marie! Thank you for addressing this. I would like to comment on both a professional AND personal level. Before I was a Career Transition Coach, I was a Mental Health Clinician. It helped to have an awareness of the 5 stages of grieving or dealing with loss/potential loss. The MOST important thing- I think – was to realize that people don’t all go through these stages in direct succession, and will often step back from anger to denial, etc… There is not a clean cut way this process occurs.

    On a personal level, as someone who had one of my best friends murdered when I was younger, my favorite grandma pass away unexpectedly, and a 17 year old sister who battled terminal cancer, survived, and then tried to take her own life around ten years later, I’ve certainly experienced some rather tragic and “uncommon” events.

    For me personally, what stood out the MOST, was that there was no “right” way to react to things like this. Everyone grieves in their own way, and I found that “knowing” and holding onto that truth, it’s greatly helped me be able to better empathize with others who experience losses and tragedy.

    And what to me was so ironic in many ways – when my close friend was murdered, I lived in a college dorm with about 1,000 people. Since this was an actual murder, the police and news were involved, so everyone knew about it. I remember I was in such shock and listening to message after message of people expressing their condolences.
    What I do remember though, quite vividly, was that the thing someone did for me that felt the most comforting and helpful, required “zero words.”

    This kid i knew from the dorms saw me in the cafeteria during that week. He looked at me, and I could feel his warmth and compassion through his eyes and body language. He put down his tray, walked up to me gradually, and gave me a huge hug.

    He said nothing with words, yet that particular action actually stood out to me the most during that time.

  102. Gali

    when my mother passed away someone at facebook send theses words that really comfort me :
    I am so sorry to hear that , I hope you will never know sorrow again .
    Also I remember that few days after her passing away a big box came from the grocery store at my neighbourhood , filled with some nice things to eat like coffee, tea , 2- 3 sort of cookies and 2-3 sort of creackers from a good quality , with a little note , I don’t know what it says ,
    I just remember these things really comfort me , it was the thought and the abundance that was in the box.
    Good night to all of you who are reading this note.

  103. Karen

    What a great guide! I heard every one of those ‘what not to say’ statements when my husband died. It was pain on top of more pain.
    People really want to help and show comfort and a guide like this will help them do it authentically (and with much relief!).

  104. This is an excellent thread. I didn’t get through everything, so I’m not sure if this was already shared, but I love the empathy cards by Emily McDowell.

    • Sue

      Good point – I heard about her cards on Facebook at a time when someone told me about their cancer diagnosis. I went to some small family-run gift and paper shops and asked specifically Emily McDowell cards and was actually able to find some. My friend LOVED them.

  105. Peggy

    The best thing anyone said to me after my Mom died was when my sister-in-law asked my brother and me, two months after her passing, “What do you miss the most about your Mom?” It was wonderfully unexpected and led to a long, happy & cathartic conversation about all the things we missed about her. I now pose that question often to friends who have lost a loved one, and it seems like they appreciate it as much as I did. It’s been 20 years since Mom died, and I’d STILL relish the opportunity to talk about her.

    • Teri

      x-x-x-x-x-xx-xOx Wow!
      Great suggestion. Thank you 🙂

  106. Haunani

    Great information of what not to say and what to say and do. They were all spot on. I heard many of the what not to say and was very upset of how thoughtless people can be in trying to say something especially family members. Unless you’ve lost someone I guess it’s understandable. Sometimes we have to put ourselves in the shoes of the person who lost a loved one. That might help others to be compassionate and show empathy.

  107. a few years ago my 17 year old cat suddenly died, while I was out of the country. My long term boyfriend at the time and family said to me “it’s only a cat, it’s not a family member”
    I never got over it!!! 🙁

    • Sue

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Our fur babies anchor themselves very firmly and very quickly into our hearts and happiness. “Only a cat” indeed! My cats have given me the truest form of unconditional love in my life. It’s possible I love my current one more than any person (shhh!)

  108. Lara

    You are right on the money Marie. Very poignant. As an atheist, I am completely offended and disgusted when people tell me they will pray for me, or that their god has some plan for the devastation that has occurred. I know they are only trying to help in their own way, but it’s still wrong to push those beliefs on someone who is trying to cope and doesn’t share that belief.

    Simply the words “I don’t know what to say,” is enough for me. It is honest. I have dealt with pain, suffering and loss and can still look at the bright side of life. My friend’s father passed away this week from terminal cancer and we are all trying to support him, so I appreciate that this video was released right now.

    Thanks for all that you do Marie! x

  109. Ljubisa Vujosevic

    Dear Marie,
    I am grateful for your sincere advises from your heart!
    The best wishes to your friend Criss an all others around you!
    With love, Ljubisa

  110. Laurie Moore Skillings

    Your —I’m not sure what it’s called—outtake (which are hilarious) at the end of the video was most appropriate due to the subject matter of the video.
    Very thoughtful and considerate of you!

  111. Great video Marie. I just wanted to add something about supporting the family or loved ones too. Having spent over a year in hospital) the first time) it was really my family who needed the dinner brought around etc. It’s different for everyone but in my case I was getting incredible love and support but my family really needed it too.

  112. “Just be with the person” is wonderful advice but to that I really want to add, be with them over the long-term. I experienced this myself during illness and now do work with hospitals and disability charities when this is discussed (and I see it a lot unfortunately). There is a huge outpouring of support in ‘the early days’ but (where possible) it is a year or a decade later that someone may still be struggling and really need that friendly chat.

  113. Dear Marie,
    These are incredibly beautiful, compassionate words of wisdom, you emanate pure love and light. Thank you for your wonderful videos – much welcomed and appreciated.

    YTS Owen

  114. Linda

    Thank you so much for this! It is such an important subject, and it can be handled so badly!

  115. Great stuff, especially as we enter the holidays!
    My wife & I lost our 4 parents in the span of 3 years a few years ago and the following year lost a home to fire. What a whirlwind that was!
    The most comforting thing was friends showing up to walk alongside us through each event. They didn’t even have to say anything – they just showed up. One group of friends showed up when my mother-in-law died and said, “We know you’ll have lots of company over the next few days so we want to clean your bathrooms.” Who does that!?
    5 years later it still brings tears to my eyes.

  116. There were some great tips here. For people who don’t know what to say, their love and compassion can be shown in a hug. Reminiscing about a loved one can be really helpful and I encourage these memories to be remembered as ‘smile inside memories that are yours for keeps’.

  117. Thank-you soooo much for this episode and especially for including/acknowledging the grief associated with home loss and disasters.

    My family home was lost in a firestorm that destroyed 500 homes in Australia, in 2003. Since then I have connected with many bushfire affected communities and individuals that have lost their homes in a variety of circumstances through my passion project ‘Suddenly Homeless’.

    Often, home loss survivors have been in life threatening situations themselves, so there can be significant trauma to process as well as the grief and loss.

    The tips you have provided here, in particular Andi’s suggestions will be really helpful for my community of survivors and beyond!

    Another thing I have found helpful is to encourage people to create a home altar or shrine. – a sacred space they can go to for reflection and comfort.

    Thanks again for this heartfelt episode ❤️
    Emily xo

  118. Being, thank goodness, on the other side of cancer, I think one of the biggest things I learned was that when people put their foot in it, it is usually because they are not thinking straight. Cancer scares people, so I found that people who would say things that were not appropriate (like launching into a terrible story about someone close to them who had died) it was because they were overwhelmed. So it is a good idea, when someone shares news like this to take your time before responding and just be present and listen. I also totally agree about checking in and offering to do specific things; a lot of people cannot cope with seeing someone they care about suffer, but disappearing is really hurtful. Probably one of the most supportive things which a friend did for me was come once a week while I was on chemo to paint my nails black (one of the drugs was light sensitive meaning that I could have lost my nails if they weren’t protected from the light), it was a practical, caring and simple gesture which meant so much to me in a difficult time.
    Thanks for this episode Marie, it was really special.

  119. I hadn’t talked to my ex in a few months when I found out that his mom died.
    I bought a cute little chocolate dessert and gave it to the security guy in the entrance of his home to hand it to him. I also wrote: “Despues de sentir lo que se tiene que sentir, solo queda ser feliz”
    Which means: After feeling what you need to feel, the only thing thats left is happiness.
    I am so ashamed of this. My intention was too make him feel better and to let him know I cared. I was very scared and wasn’t going to say anything to him since we ended very oddly.
    I don’t really know what he thought, felt or did I just hope it helped. :s
    This video will help me not make the same mistake and Im gratefull for that 🙂
    Thank you Marie !!

  120. Thank you so much for this Marie! It was exactly what I needed to hear today.

    All love to you

    Jude xx

  121. JL

    This is timely and helpful for the conversations that people don’t want to have.
    I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer three weeks ago and the love and support I received was overwhelming – in so many ways I couldn’t even imagine.

    My friends rallied around to put each other on rosters to take me to and from chemo, offering to pick up meals, cook. They threw me a shave the head party after my first chemo session, took me out for foot massages and bought me turbans and scarves to prepare me for the long road ahead.

    Young Living essential oils, non toxic deodorants (i stopped using them and was worrying about smelling bad, but i had my lymph nodes and biopsies wounds) and a bag full of the latest best technology makeup (courtesy of friends who work at L’Oreal and Estee Lauder) to deal with losing my eye brows and eyelashes – they all went out of the way to make the road as bearable as possible and I am eternally grateful.

    That’s not to say there weren’t hurtful bad experiences – it ranged from being blocked on all social media channels after my diagnosis and leaving a group chat without saying bye (I just couldn’t keep up with the exhaustive daily hospital visits before chemo even started), to many friends whom I thought were close who just said “I’m here if you need me.” and disappeared off the grid like you’d never expect. One used to regularly send photos of what she was cooking and eating to share these moments. After my diagnosis, she said she’d be there if I need here, but the messages just stopped coming. She vanished.

    I’ve learnt through this experience with cancer, and to be more gentle with myself. It’s easier to bear when I realise we don’t really have a right to have expectations of people and expect them to say/do the things you want them to – they can’t read minds, and to understand that most people come from a place of care even when they say the wrong things.

    The worst are the few that say “I’m there!” “Count on me!” and disappear. Actions speak louder than words, texting regularly to check in is a big gesture for me. I know that everyone has very busy lives to lead with demanding jobs and juggling children and family life, but it’s the thoughts that count when they take those few minutes to check in. My mum friend who is raising 4 toddlers (triplets) on her own, and another on the other side of the world raising 4 children, stealing minutes to check in before she goes to bed each night. Lawyers, doctors and banking friends on their equally gruelling work and travel schedules checking in, taking time to wait with me for chemo appointments, or take me out, shopping in pharmacies elsewhere on their work trips to bring me things they know I can’t get at home from aromatherapies to natural face creams and masks.

    Just because we’ve put the brakes on life, we can’t expect everyone to put everything down to be there 24/7, so I’d say appreciate every little thought and gesture really counts and makes a difference. And go easy on yourself and expectations of others.

  122. Katie

    I loved a concept called the “ring theory” which says “comfort in, dump out” when it comes to grief or tragedy. The idea is that the person closest into the trauma is in the center of the ring can complain and grieve to anyone. The next ring is the person/people closest to the person at the center and so on. The idea is that you can complain farther out in the rings, but only comfort to people closer in the rings. (There was an article in the LA Times that goes into more depth; google “comfort in, dump out” and it’ll pop up.)

  123. My dad died very suddenly and I had an idea of how much he loved me. Standing at the door of the church when a huge and diverse community came to gather and send him off, I was blessed to have so many strangers share their insights and the knowledge they had of my dad’s love for me. They told stories, short ones starting with ‘Did you know…’, and I hadn’t. By the time everyone had gathered, I had a much clearer picture, brought into focus by strangers, of how much I was loved by this man I called ‘dad’. It gave me the fuel I needed to deliver the eulogy that befitted him.
    When strangers or close friends have a valuable story to share during a time of loss, that relates to the person left behind and elevates it, it can do much.

  124. I always offer to pick them up, take them to a deserted parking lot with my portable Dyson vacuum and a box of cheap plates. No one has taken me up on the offer yet, but it breaks the ice to share their feelings that typically includes “this sucks” in PG terms.

    Great topic to tackle Marie!! Well done. Thank you!

  125. Tracy

    Thanks for this perfect episode Marie. When my dad was diagnosed with a major brain tumour, it was the friends that stepped forward – without me having to ask – and who stayed in daily contact that got me through. Lean IN if you possibly can.

  126. Marie,

    I lost my Dad plane accident when I was 7. After the funeral our social circle vanished. People felt so sorry for my Mom, and did not know what to do, nor say. By the time I was in my 20’s I had been to 11 funerals of people close to me….family & friends.

    “Never let your fear of saying the wrong thing stop you from saying something”, is the best advice hands down. Simply saying “I don’t know what to say, but I love you and I am here” is so powerful.

    Imagine how much more empathy and compassion we would have as a society if these lessons were taught to us in school.

    Thank you.

  127. Vanessa

    I recently lost my father, and I have to say the bit about sharing stories, and writing a card is so true. When you are so wrapped up in your own grief, you feel very alone, even when in a house full of people, but to hear other people telling stories and sharing memories gives so much comfort that your loved one touched other people’s lives as well. It reinforces that they meant so much, and not just to you, while they were here.

  128. Lynn

    When I lost my sister unexpectedly (my only sibling), I felt shattered. I was actually shocked how few people cared despite my verbalization that I was suffering and not coping well. Not even my own family cared. It taught me how cruel people can be. On the flip side there would be a casual friend or someone I didn’t know very well who would seem to care or at least acknowledge the loss. The people closest to me were pretending it didn’t happen or wasn’t important, but I will never forget how much it meant to me when someone seemed to understand I’d lost something. Anytime I hear someone has suffered the loss of a loved one, I realize that I don’t know their degree of suffering, but on the outside chance they felt anything like me – devastated and alone- I acknowledge their loss and give comfort.

  129. Dear Marie,

    Thank you so much for this episode. I’m really glad that you shared these tips with your viewers because personally, I really don’t know what to say in these difficult situations. I’ve said a lot of don’ts to some of my friends. 🙁 But at least now I know what to say and not to say when someone’s going through a hard time. Thank you so much Marie for your lovely content. I wish I could have stumbled into your blog several years ago, your tips could’ve saved me a lot of headaches and heartaches. More power to you and your team.

    All the love from Thailand,

  130. I haven’t actually commented on a video before but this one touched a nerve. When my mom passed away with cancer one of the most difficult things to watch was how her friends stop being her friend when she really needed people around the most. Mom was the business owner of a small town bakery and had been interactive with hundreds of people. Yet when she got sick a literal hand full of people were there through the 14 month journey to get last day. A lot of time people simply want to be treated like the friend they were before the tough stuff entered in. The worst feeling in the worst times is loneliness. Watching that in mom was one of the hardest things to see.

  131. Fiona McDonald

    I had a cousin who sadly died recently at a young age from lung cancer. We were a similar age and I found distressing to hear of her suffering from her parents. Without exception every person I shared the news with asked if she had been a smoker. I was shocked & upset every time the question was asked. It really is irrelevant. No one deserves to die of lung cancer.

    I wonder too what words you can offer yourself in times of loss and sadness. When all of a sudden the world around feels frighteningly fragile and temporary.

    With love to all those suffering through loss and bereavement at this time.

  132. Alison

    Hi Marie,
    I met an amazing soulful woman from Mass. this past year who wrote a book addressing this very issue. She now tours the country as a communications expert/coach for major corporations and was a key note speaker for the MS society after they got a hold of her book. It is called: Healing Conversations: What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say by Nance Guilmartin. Check it out, she has stories about just about everything in there, loss of a loved one, death of a pet, diagnosis of cancer, spouse cheated on you… you name it, and she discusses how people don’t know what to say and often say something that is actually hurtful but they are unaware. Great read if you have time to squeeze in another book! 😉 Thanks for bringing awareness to this very important topic. Bravo. Oh and Nance is a 4x Emmy award winning journalist, her book is in 11 languages and she is one of the kindest people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. You’d love her, she heals the world with her work.

  133. Nikki

    My niece passed away 2.5 weeks ago and she was more like a daughter to me, so the grief is all consuming and definitely heart and gut wrenching. About a week and a half after she passed someone said to me that she would want me to move on with my life, it felt like I had punched in the gut. Please don’t say this to someone, our life is completely different then what it was and we don’t know how to deal with it. A part of our identity has died, you know you will never be the same person again. We are not only suffering the loss of a loved one, we are now lost ourselves. It would be better to say take all the time you need to grieve and know that I am here for you whenever you need me (and really be there when they need you). We know life is busy but the grief is all consuming and can at times be physically painful. We need to know that you REALLY will be there for us when you say so

  134. Petra

    Although I haven’t been through this experience myself, I agree with the point that physical presence is one of the most important things in these times, as well as helping out in specific ways (inviting the person to dinner, sending them a snail mail card, dropping off some nice food at their place).

  135. Geardo Marcelo Jr

    Dear Marie ,thank you again this another episode that really touch my heart
    things that do and don’t say when the Tragedy comes on their way now i learn a lot from you the effective way on how to say the thing that comfort to the people who suffer like illness,loss of lives in family, friends etc any disaster that sounds smarter.

  136. Inez Foreman

    During your most worst time in ones life is having to face the lose of a love one. But when you have family and friends that come a long your side and just be supportive. This makes all the difference in the world to get you better. I have amazing friends that will check up on me and ask questions such as:
    Do you need me to pick up something for you?
    Do you need me to clean or cook for you can I bring over a disk that I made for you?
    Can I take you out for coffee or just walk around the mall?
    Just the act of kindness, wanting to serve will make all the sadness replace me the bond you have with the type of friends you have.

  137. Kim

    Thank you, Marie, for addressing this subject. I lost my spouse of 18 yrs to cancer – and, everything you are saying here is true. I volunteer at Hospice now – and, more than anything, a bereaved just needs someone to deeply listen.

  138. Esora

    Thank you Marie, That was good advice, as always actually!
    I was googling this information just a month ago to know how to support a friend who was crying for several days for the loss of his beloved one. But now i have another question,.. is how to react to this situation: suddenly i heard from people that this beloved one is feeling well and walking around the city, i didn’t believe and though it was another one. When suddenly this person appeared alive in front of me… saying nothing, as i knew later the death was a fake news.. reason of misinformation or a joke, i was the last one to know about. so i just said “hi” and kept on doing my things. I felt shy to admit that we had already berried him in our hearts and minds, and pretended that mourning did not ever happen. inside my head i felt anger and disrespect to this person who played with emotions of people who cared in such a terrible way.. though may be it was accidentally. But what would you do?

  139. When my first born baby died at just 20 hours old, I truly appreciated every card, every call, every text, every email, every gift and every visit. Each was a comfort and I felt so much support when reading the words no matter what the words said. I had scheduled a cranio-sacral appointment for my newborn with our family doctor, but canceled the appointment when she died. The doctor came over to the house and sat on my bed to just talk and see how I was doing. That was so comforting to feel his concern and just feel he was there for me. The Chaplin came to talk to my husband and I. One thing he said that helped so much was that there is no timeline for grief, and each person will be different in their needs, so take all the time you need, don’t feel like you have to try to hurry yourself to “get over it” or find “closure “. He said, “Grieving is a process and takes time. And you will feel better in time.” My midwives came to bring me food, tea to stop my breast milk, wrap my breasts in cabbage leaves, do laundry and dishes for me. A dear friend held a ceremonial Hawaiian healing “sweat lodge” for me and my husband and invited our friends to sweat out our grief and prayers. My young nephews sat with me and asked me questions about my baby. That allowed me to talk about the sweet, good things that I remembered. That was very helpful too. Flowers sent to the house were very helpful because I had something to look at and feel the support and see the beauty in that support as I gazed at the flowers. I bought long-burning candles (Yurzeit) so I could look at the flame when I was missing her and needed a place for my eyes to land instead of searching for her. Candles would be a good gift for someone experiencing loss of a loved one.
    I personally chose to grieve happily, so I welcomed humor, laughing and having fun as I still was in the grieving process. I enjoyed doing quiet activities at home with a friend coming over to cook with me or just visit for a while. We could talk about anything. It didn’t really matter. All that mattered was that the friend was there for me by my side.
    When my 24 year old nephew died in an accident, I knew exactly what to do for my sister and brother-in-law. Just being there; helping them to make decisions when their heads were clouded in shock and grief. Talking them through the initial guilt and trying to place non-sensical blame on themselves. Helping them to see that they gave him a great life, and that his life was purposeful because of how they taught him how to be empathetic and accepting with people. I helped empower my sister with encouraging her to take charge in planning his memorial as a celebration for him. In grief it actually helps to sweat over the little details and to feel like you’ve done all you can to make things just right. Acknowledging the birth date is important when that date rolls around each year. And the first few holidays are hard times. Just a phone call or some kind of acknowledgement is very comforting to know that your loved one mattered and has not been forgotten. The person who experienced the loss has that fear within themselves that they will forget and that sometimes they feel like it was all a dream. So as a result they hang on to the suffering in order to make sure that they don’t forget. I realized this early on, and chose to process my grief while also happily living my life. BTW– I had two healthy babies afterward and life is wonderful. I see the death of my baby girl as an enriching experience rather than a loss. I didn’t lose anything because she was only meant to be for that period of time… and I see it as a gain because you husband and I gained such deep layers of experience that you can never experience any other way. I truly see it as a gift

    • Clare

      Beautiful. My brother passed away when I was young and I too remember the support and kindness of complete strangers. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Vitek

      ‘There is no timeline for grief, and each person will be different in their needs, so take all the time you need, don’t feel like you have to try to hurry yourself to “get over it” or find “closure “.’
      I think this part is what people often forget and it is so true. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Angeline.
      My mom lost two babies. They were twins and they died a few hours after they were born. It had happened a few years before I was born so I don’t know and I cannot imagine what she had been going through. Now, it’s 30 years later and she still, in a way, grieves for them.

  140. Lyn

    Brilliantly helpful broadcast. Thanks Marie xx

  141. Sheryl

    This is an important message for everyone to consider implementing. Thank you.

  142. Clare

    I love what you said about offering specific help. It’s too easy to say, “Let me know if you need anything”. That’s just a way we make ourselves feel better (I’m as much to blame here as the next person). But I’ve realized that we know full-well a grieving person will rarely reach out, and this just gets us off the hook.
    Here are my top 5 things I think people in crisis need to be offered:
    – Offer to babysit so your friend can grieve/make funeral arrangements without having to worry about the children.
    – Offer to help with catering at the wake/funeral or whatever occasion might demand catering.
    – If your friend needs a lawyer, counselor or to see a doctor, offer to make the appointment AND take them to the appointment (you can take a book and wait in the waiting room.
    – Be practical. Offer to collect children from school. Show up with basic groceries (anything you know can be used to toss a simple meal together). Show up with a few meals that can go in the freezer.
    – Always say “I can’t take the pain away. I wish I could. But I am here for you and you can talk to me whenever you need to.”
    Lastly, be consistent and regular in your contact (not relentless). But don’t make a few attempts to pop around and offer condolences and help and the disappear for weeks. One of the worst things about death and grieving is that you are inundated with visitors and things to do in the beginning and then people stop calling and coming around…and that’s when the loneliness and pain really sets in.

  143. Sudheer

    Dear Marie,
    I had come across one incedence recently i.e. death of neighbour. and used the excact words you said in do s and dont s. I comfirmed from your video I was right.

  144. When my ex and I had a stillborn boy 22 years ago, one of the most common comments we got was what David Kessler said NOT to say “He’s in a better place”. Tied for first with this (and very similar) was “It was for the best”. Ouch. That one hurt a LOT as we’d both been praying he’d be miraculously healed. The most profound comment we got was from one of the junior pastors at our church. He came around immediately n hearing our news. His comment was about 2 hours long. He said, “I’m here!” then just sat with us in silence. BEST help ever!!

    • Shannon Elhart

      You and your ex have my compassion…. losing a newborn is so difficult – I know personally. I wanted exactly what you said – just for people to be there with me. Let their lives stop a little like mine had so I didn’t feel so alone. I hated ‘God only gives you want you can handle.’ I heard that so much I think I yelled at someone once. It angered and scared me – if God thinks I can handle this, what more will come.

    • Chelsea - Team Forleo

      What a beautiful thing that pastor did, Ian. Your experiences with how people responded to such a huge loss and heartache can teach us all so much. Thank you for sharing.

  145. I share this with a smile, and it taught me a lot – when my newborn son died, a family member came up to me at the service, punched me in the arm (like the friendly, after a baseball game punch), and said, ‘You can always have another one.’ Part of me wanted to scream, but I was so horrified to respond at all. I nearly choked out, ‘it was my son, not a puppy.’ HOWEVER, it taught me so much – how uncomfortable people are around others in pain and thus they truly don’t know what to say, compassion – for me and for those who bumble up words like this person did (he’s a great guy… he just really didn’t know what to say to me), the need to find ways to comfort myself.

    Marie, this is such an important topic. Since my own pain, I’ve always now spoken up – I hated being the ‘elephant in the room’ – I’d feeeeeel others look at me differently or with pity because they knew I was devastated, I could tell that people avoided me or held in laughter when I was around. It made it so much worse – it made me withdraw bc I felt like a burden when they did this. All I wanted was for people to acknowledge my pain and loss, recognize it, help me make space for my broken heart… and even hold some space of their own for my brokenness. The most helpful comments were simply compassionate hugs with sincere sorrow from those who knew they has no idea how much pain I was in. xo, Marie – I appreciate you <3

    As a last thought, the thing I'd add – specifically for those who lose a newborn or child – offer to look at photos, hear stories, listen to their broken heart. It was incredibly difficult leaving the hospital with empty arms, seeing the nursery, facing the dreams I'd already had (like having two children at Christmas… not one). For years, when my son's birthday would come around I'd long to show people his photos, to tell them his brief story, to have someone cry a little with me. It think bc his life was so brief people move on, but a mommy never forgets – I still wanted to share my child with others. Of course, not all parents would feel this way, but it's a good thing to offer. I do this now after someone loses a loved one – offer to sit for tea, look at photos, hear the stories – even if it's someones 99 year old mom… sometimes we need to share, we need to be heard.

  146. Susan Richards

    Great advice. I lost my mom 4 years ago. What helped the most was people just being with me. Feeling that love surround me was so comforting. What was difficult was the advice people gave during her final weeks. My mom and I had a difficult relationship and I was pressured to act or be a certain way that didn’t fit our relationship. I felt very alone and unsupported. My sister looked the part of upset and hysterical and my extended family rallied to her. I process differently and was judged strongly on that. So no judgement is wonderful advice.

  147. Susanne Kastberg

    Thank you Marie – I listened to your advice yesterday – and today I unfortunately got the news that someone I know well is ill with cancer. I was so glad to have your advice with me – so many thanks.
    Many greetings from Susanne in Denmark

  148. Hello all!!! While listening to your tips shared, thank you much BTW!!! I remembered about this website for sending cards to our loved ones, you can even personalize them!

  149. Tara

    GREAT advice! I have said things on the “don’t say list” — so I am thrilled to know that my “help” was not really help. Good to know and now I can shift it!

  150. Marie, this is truly one of my favorite episodes of Marie TV. Thank you for sharing your insights, the insights of your peers and for starting this exchange. All the fantastic and wise comments prove that finding the right words and showing our support during life’s sad & tragic times are a common struggle. I am an etiquette consultant and this is one of the most common scenarios I’m asked about outside the business environment. I love your simple, “I’m so sorry. What can I do?” Never underestimate the simplicity of just being there. Call. Visit. Text. Send a card. Take a meal. Drop off a little gift with a note. I’d add to the “don’ts” : when learning of an illness/death/tragedy, don’t make it about you. Since people are most comfortable talking about themselves, they tend to want to share their experiences as a way of empathizing or commiserating. To balance my “don’t”, the “do” is to be other-centered. Keep the focus on the other person by listening. Regardless of the situation, listening is always a far more powerful tool than talking.

  151. Barbara

    A friend lost her husband young. We were all friends but hadn’t even been to each other’s house, nor did we live close by. She had closer friends who I imagined would be bringing her lasagna and soup and such, and be there physically. I knew that eventually that’d slow down. So in the sympathy card envelope, I included a gift card to the supermarket. Even though going to the store would be a painful chore for a while, the loss of income was huge so I’d hoped to at least ease the burden. Also, she wanted lots of time alone that first year but posted her thoughts, feelings and activities– like what it was like sorting his belongings, reading his love poems — regularly on Facebook. I made it a point to visit her Facebook daily and leave words of support. I called her Christmas Eve because that evening was the annual party we all go to. I asked if she was going, and she was. So I spent the whole party sitting by her. She was doing much better by then but still it took courage for her too be there. Just hanging out on the same couch together for the night while others came and went or passed by, I hope was comforting.

  152. Oliver

    Thank you for sharing this e-mail just prior to the holiday season.. Now I know at very least one thing I can say to console a grieving person, which is, “I am so sorry for your loss”.
    I do not have any additional suggestions.

  153. Wow, what a great episode. I never feel like I know what to say at times like these. As someone who has also gone through two major house fires, though, I can say that wow, she is right on point about what helps and what doesn’t help. I also struggled through infertility and some of the toughest comments from people were:
    “Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.”
    “If you’d only relax…”
    “If I could just give you my fertility…”
    “If you need a surrogate, I’d be willing to do that for you.”
    “Maybe you should consider adoption. There are so many kids in need.”

    Oh, and the worst is when someone would say, “Gosh, I just had no problem getting pregnant. I swear my husband could just look at me and I was knocked up!” Sharing this immediately after someone mentions having issues getting pregnant is incredibly hurtful!

    Offering to give someone your fertility is like saying “You’re broken and I’m not.” which isn’t helpful AT ALL. Offering to be a surrogate out of the blue is just so wrong. It’s also like saying “you’re so obviously broken, but I could do this major thing for you” as if carrying the child myself isn’t even something I desperately want. And suggestion adoption before someone is ready to consider that option, especially when it’s presented in a way that could make someone feel judged or selfish for NOT helping these children in need, is hurtful.

    I understand people mostly just want to help and don’t know how to go about it, but infertility is one of those hot spots to be aware of. For me, I mainly just appreciated when someone said “Do you want to talk about it?” and then listened. Or “You are going to be a wonderful Mom. Everything is going to be okay.” Those were loving things that meant a lot.

  154. Thank you for sharing this Marie. A co-worker that I’m very close with is going through an extremely traumatic and tragic time. His wife took her own life after struggling with depression for many years. I have found it so hard to know what to say and especially hard to know what to do. This post is so helpful for all of us who want to do or say something comforting. I’ll just keep being there and checking in on him.

    My heart goes out to all of you suffering through your own grief. It’s interesting to me that we all go through it at one point in our lives, yet we are still afraid to talk about it openly.

  155. Anna Matthews

    What a wonderful reminder Marie. Not only great advice from the heart, but also a nice moment in my day to think about others and how they feel. Thank you.

  156. Charlotte

    Thank you Marie,
    My partner dropped dead 14months ago within 6 weeks I lost our two homes and became homeless. I have been homeless for 11 months. 5 months ago I had a knee replacement. My shock is people who completely disappear, family and so called friends who have not enquired since the funeral.
    The way our society deals with loss is inhumane.

    • Chelsea - Team Forleo

      Charlotte, I’m so sorry to hear about the immense load you’ve been carrying, and how alone you’ve been feeling as people around you disappeared.

      We hope this episode and the comments shared above from so many people bring comfort in some way. We’re sending you all our best wishes, thoughts, and prayers.

  157. amy caroline

    great topic!
    my go to e-line and for a snail mail card for someone experiencing a loss is ‘sending you love & peace’
    and don’t ask, just show up with hugs, food, booze whatever – i recently was thrust into a role as caregiver for someone completely debilitated in an accident. the friends that did reach out, even with just a call, was much fewer than i expected, but the tribe members who did support me know that it is hard to ask for help and just showed up at the hospital or the house with compassion and sustenance. for that, i am forever grateful and also learned to do the same for friend in difficult situations.

  158. Krista

    I’d say, go to the funeral. Really, just go.
    If your friend or co-worker has lost someone close to them, it is a beautiful gesture to attend the funeral, and will undoubtedly mean more to the person than you’ll ever know.

    In previous generations, it seems to have been understood that the gesture of attending a funeral or memorial service was expected and appreciated, even if it’s just to support a friend and the person who died is someone you’ve never met… I just think that somehow, in this day and age, that gesture has been somehow lost.

    I was really surprised that it didn’t occur to some of even my closest friends how deeply meaningful that gesture would have been, when I lost my mother and father a couple of years ago. These were friends who were otherwise expressing sympathy in other ways, so their hearts were absolutely in the right place. It just didn’t seem to occur to them to come, or perhaps they were scared. Perhaps they told themselves things like, “I didn’t know her father,” or, “I wouldn’t want to intrude.” And that’s sad, because the friends who did attend shared with me one of the most intimate and meaningful events of my life!

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      That’s such an important point, Krista. I’ve often heard that people won’t always remember what (if anything) you say if you go to a funeral for one of their friends or family members, but they’ll absolutely remember that you were there, and that alone means the world.

      We so appreciate you watching this episode and sharing your thoughts with us.

  159. This specific ‘to do’ list is a the best I’ve seen- thank you!

    In my psychotherapy practice many of my clients are at a loss on how to support someone through a loss. In general we don’t like to see people hurt and want to say or do something to relieve their pain, but it’s not the way it works. I’m pleased that you ended the segment with an emphasis that ‘being there’ is the best thing we can do. Sometimes this is watching a movie in silence or driving over with cleaning supplies/food and saying ‘since I was in the area I thought I’d come and help you out’.

    As much as it’s hard not to want to talk someone out of their feelings, staying ‘with’ them is the absolutely best thing someone can do for a loved one.

  160. Salome

    I have discovered something about those going through a divorce especially when they just receive divorce papers served to them. These people go through loss like the death of a loved one. They need to be comforted more. When one looses a loved one through death, the normal thing is that people come to mourn with you, in a divorce, it is not unusual for people to gather and mourn with you. My advice is be there to offer your ear. They want to pour themselves out because at a funeral they would cry. Let them talk their heart out if you can stomach it. Comfort them by offering to help and by being there.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      That’s such a great point, Salome. Divorce can be so crushing for a lot of people, even sometimes if they wanted the relationship to end themselves, and being there to support people in that situation is so important too. Thank you for sharing!

  161. Jill

    I didn’t agree with EVERYTHING in this video (I don’t always agree 100% with these videos), but I do agree that maybe you shouldn’t let your fear of saying the wrong thing stop you from at least saying SOMETHING. Like in this day and age of having to politically correct and so on, sometimes people are so caught up in being careful and saying the safe thing that they end up saying nothing or something that ends up rubbing salt in the wound. And then they look like they don’t care at all. I don’t know. But definitely, making your presence felt and checkin up on a person, really can make a difference ~ it really makes you feel that they care and they aren’t leaving you alone. And sometimes you know, this doesn’t just apply to like, some world-changing grief or tragedy ~ I think it also applies to if you know a person is really just going through a tough, tough time.

    So once I just *unloaded* to my best friend, and she was all “I don’t know what I can say to make it better”. > I think this is an example of being overly careful. I’m no people-person or what but, to me it just made me feel… like it’s a standard x default answer / one of those niceties to say? I don’t know; I guess I was wrong to expect my best friend to be a little more feeling x compassionate x supportive. But then she was going through tought stuff too so yeah. Guess I was wrong. In any case, it’s true ~ just be there. And let the person know you’re going to be there, and then actually be there ~ there are so many ways to be there these days! So there’s hardly any excuse however busy we are. If you’re really a friend and you really mean it when you say you’re there for someone, you’ll find ways.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Jill, thank you so much for watching and sharing your thoughts. Sometimes just being there for someone and letting them know that you’re willing to listen is exactly the right way to approach it. We appreciate you tuning in with us!

  162. Excellent, just what I needed

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      We’re so glad to hear that, Jeanie. Thank you for watching!

  163. Anu Manhotra

    Thanks Marie,I am sure the Do’s are very helpful,took my share of knowledge out of it.

  164. Ani

    While many people have already touched on being physically present to be there for and comfort a person grieving. I’d like to stress making as much physical contact while present as possible/is appropriate. If you’re close enough to the person and know they’re open to holding hand or hugging, just go for it. If uncertain, ask if you may. A lot of healing/grounding/balancing energy passes from one to another. When I was severely depressed after the fairly sudden death of my mom, I recall craving hugs…to be held…a lot.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      That’s such a great suggestion, Ani — thank you for sharing.

  165. This couldn’t have come at a more apropos time. My dear friend just lost her youngest son and I just couldn’t “post” my sympathy. I have a card to send and am writing a personal note – so your advice was perfect. I am so sad for her – the words seem so hollow. It’s helpful to know the personal note will be appreciated.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Deirdre, thank you so much for your comment, and I’m so sorry to hear that your friend lost her son — that’s so heartbreaking.

      I hope that this episode helped in the process of writing your personal note to her. I have no doubt that your kind words and being there for her will be appreciated.

  166. Daniela

    Wow! So sensitive. Very important to talk about it. I would like to share my don’t: I recommend not asking how it happened or what happened. Generally the person is asked this question too much, and it’s painful and tireful to repeat the story. And telling the story again means feel everything again. I suggest asking someone else.

  167. I am so glad you have done this episode! Awesome team work. When my husband died one of the strangest things for me was when someone said it was like when their dog died. I’m an animal lover too but to have that comparison made, for me, was thoughtless. I actually published a book in June this year about my experiences of trauma and recovery from my husbands death, I would encourage people to write when it’s right time for them, it’s a difficult, but healing process.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Thank you so much for your comment and for sharing, Lyndal. I think most people mean well when they try to share their own experiences, but you’re so right that a comparison like that can come off as really thoughtless.

      It sounds like you found writing such a tremendously healing outlet for you, and thank you so much for sharing your suggestion.

  168. I always struggle with this. very hard to find something to say when someone close to you face in trouble.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Malcolm, I know you’re absolutely not alone there. Finding the right thing to say when someone close to us is going through a hard time isn’t easy, and I hope the strategies we shared in this episode were helpful for you!

  169. Tina

    My son was murdered in January of this year. So many people said stupid things like, “he’s in a better place” when I felt like the best place for him was here with me. I got to the point where I started asking people which one of their children they would volunteer to send to that “better place”. Saying rude things like that to someone who is grieving can lead them to say things that are completely out of character.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Oh my gosh, that’s so awful, Tina. I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been for you, especially having people saying things that weren’t kind or helpful. We’re sending all of our love your way, and our sincerest condolences for your loss.

  170. This is awesome. Saying something is just nice. The last thing you want when you’re going through something hard is to feel isolated and alone. Sometimes grief comes with this feeling of being a heavy burden on everybody else. You want to be around people but you don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable.

    It’s been two years since I lost my father. My friends who remembered the anniversary of his death really meant a lot to me. You never really get over the loss of someone you love. It’s just nice when other people acknowledge that you’re still going through it.

  171. Lee

    Hi Marie.! My best friends dad passed away Thanksgiving morning. It was unexpected, and extremely sad. Your message hit my email at exactly the right time and I want to thank you reminding me that just being there is the most important thing. Tip: just to be with that person and listen, or clean up their sink of dishes, fold their laundry… your presence is important and you can help them get organized. Have a notepad & Take notes as they talk; to do lists they come up with for whatever type of service, names of people who need to be notified, things that are weighing on them that need to get done while they are settling the situation, stories or memories that pop up. I find the grieving people often walk in circles and don’t know where to start and writing down things that are important to them rocks. Lee

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Lee, I’m so sorry to hear about your friends dad, and we’re sending our sincerest condolences.

      It means the world to know that our email arrived at a difficult time when it could be of service, and we so appreciate you sharing your helpful suggestions here too.

  172. Thanks so much for your insights on this very important topic. I suddenly and unexpectedly list my mom 3 years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. My mom literally dropped dead one day with no forewarning or explanation. Understandably it rocked my world. I had a person who I thought was a close friend, and we had been through a lot together over more than 20 years (so we knew each other well). I didn’t hear from her until a month after my mom died. She came to my house and it was obvious she was uncomfortable cage said, “I’m not very good at this.” While I understand it’s hard to know what to say (and I’ve been there), this wasn’t a good thing forge as a grieving person to hear. It made the encounter all about the other person, and how she felt. I felt wrong to be grieving and like I was burdening her with my grief. Perhaps it would have been easier for he to hear something like, “there are no right words in a time like this, but I love you and am here for you.”

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Stephanie, I’m so sorry that happened to you, and it’s really tough when the people closest to us aren’t there for us when we need them the most. I think you hit the nail right on the head in terms of how saying the wrong thing can make the interaction all about the other person. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort to be there for someone — just hearing them and sharing love can go a long way.

      Thanks so much for watching this episode and commenting!

  173. Darla Campbell

    Hi Marie,
    I am currently going thru watching my mom die of stage 4cancer. She is 81, and prior to being diagnosed was the most vibrant and alive person!! Today, however, she lies in a bed with oxygen, can barely get up to go to the bathroom. I have known my mother all my life, and yet I find myself struggling to find the words to say to her. When she is negative, I find myself trying to make her more positive. So, I would say, that is a Don’t, just allow the person you love to be right where they are. It is their journey, and they get to define it, not you. Once I was able to allow that, I had a freedom of just being present with her.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Darla, thank you so much for watching and sharing your comment with us. Allowing someone the space to be where they are and own their own journey is so important, and such a beautiful suggestion.

      I’m sorry to hear that your mom is not well, and we’re sending so much love to both of you at this difficult time.

  174. Patt

    As usual you have shared with us very useful information that helps us in those situations where we wonder what the heck to do or say.
    I just lost my sister to cancer last week and want to share with others something that didn’t help me when others were trying to share their …. help?
    You are so correct in that we are in a state of confusion and overwhelmed so when someone would come up to me and share their loss by going on and on, talking so much that I thought my mind would melt. Please, a polite hug, a nice word will do and help me much more.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Patt, we so appreciate you taking a moment to share your suggestion on this important topic. I’m so sorry to hear about your sister, and we’re sending our sincerest condolences for your loss.

  175. I don’t really think you can offer a list of PC dos and don’t in this type of situation. Of course some things are better said than others, but you can’t prescribe a list of what to say and what not to say. The important thing is to be there and to let the the person know that you are supporting them in this difficult time. I lost both my parents very suddenly at a young age and while some people said exactly what was on your lists of don’ts, I appreciated the support and their effort. I also came to realize that unless you’ve been through tragedy, expressing condolences is difficult and makes people feel awkward – and to me that was ok, because those who didn’t truly understand didn’t end up playing a center role in my grieving. I found the most solace in people who had been through a similar situation and could speak to me on a much deeper level. So if you feel awkward because you don’t know how to appropriately respond, just being there is enough and you don’t have to say much.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Thank you so much for watching and sharing your thoughts, Tamara. We absolutely wouldn’t suggest that any list of “do’s and don’ts” is perfect, as it can depend so much on the individuals and the situation. As you mentioned, sometimes even if someone has difficulty expressing condolences, it can still mean a lot that they tried.

      Our intent was to offer some common suggestions and general sentiments that might be helpful for someone who doesn’t know what to say to a loved one who is going through grief and loss, though your point about just being there is absolutely the most important thing!

      Thanks again for commenting and sharing with us on this important topic.

  176. I have two points to add, having lost my beloved husband eight years ago to a brain aneurism — very sudden. First, several commenters have mentioned it’s important for bereaved people to have other people around them. Personally, I didn’t want anyone there. I just wanted to settle into his corner of the couch and be alone with my thoughts and feelings. I know that’s not the case for everyone, but I suggest you ASK if they want company rather than just assuming.
    Second, I learned this from my mother after my father died, and I found it to be very true when I lost my husband. All the cards and flowers and calls seem to come in the first couple of weeks — and then they suddenly stop. That is very hard, so please remember to stay in touch after that first couple of weeks when everyone else is there. I often send my condolences letters a couple of weeks after the death, explaining that this is why I’m doing it. People have responded with gratitude to that.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Helen, thank you so much for sharing your suggestions here. I absolutely agree it’s a good idea to reach out first and ask if someone wants company, as sometimes being alone for a while can also be something we need when we’re going through grief and loss.

  177. Thank you Marie, not a lot people understand how to be sensitive, sometimes while trying to say the right things they tend to say the wrong thing unintentionally of course. But I think we all need to learn that it’s worth learning how be empathetic to others while they are going through challenging moment specially with that person is important!

  178. Sophia

    I lost my dog Quervo 10/28/16, 15 years and step grandmother on 10/14/16, 20 years. It is definitely hard. I felt humans were just insensitive. I suffered a great loss and humans expect me to bounce back in a week. Only a few of my friends and family were supportive and that few is all I needed. But I do agree with the advice in your video. This is one great segment of advice.

  179. Flavia Nasrin Testa

    Hi: grief is difficult for everyone, for the loved ones left behind, for colleagues and business friends, loss is real. Lately, in my art business, I have had the pleasure and honour of making art as a remembrance for the dearly departed – something symbolic and not literal that helped the wound be less painful. I never thought of this chanel as an option but I am sure glad this person asked me to do a illustration for a family to be reminded in a good way about their loved one that they miss and love.
    This is part of what makes unique entrepreneurship work, it’s a person to person thing.
    Thank you MF! #stayinspired #flavianasrintesta

  180. Cheryl

    First of all, Marie, thank you so very much for addressing this sensitive issue that so many have a tendency to avoid. I truly appreciate your words and guidance. Your advice: “Do keep checking in” really resonated with me. Many years ago, my husband died unexpectedly and his body was found by neighbors. To this day, we don’t know what he died from–and as you said, it makes no difference at all. My healthy vibrant husband was gone at the age of 38. After I received the news and in the months following, several people who I thought were close friends simply “disappeared.” No phone calls, no notes, no cards–nothing. Yet, one woman from work, who I wasn’t particularly close to, touched me so deeply with her response to my tragedy. She called me every single day for months and months after my husband had died. She would offer to bring food–and often did. Or just ask if she could come by and sit and talk. If I didn’t answer, she would leave a simple short message, “I wanted to check in on you, Cheryl. I’m here for you and love you.” She wouldn’t insist on me calling her back. She would just leave those sweet, simple, caring words which touched me so deeply–and were so vital in my healing and grieving. I think that after the funeral, people so often think “well, it’s back to business as usual.” And that’s just not true. I found it was the day-to-day routine after my loss that was the hardest. And to this day, I’m so very grateful for this woman. Thank you again, Marie. Much love to you.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Beautiful, Cheryl — your friend sounds like such an incredible, kind-hearted woman, and it’s so wonderful she was there for you during such a painful time. Thank you so much for sharing your story — it’s such a lovely example of how just being there really can make such a tremendous difference when we’re experiencing deep loss.

      • Cheryl

        Thank you for your kind rely, Caroline. I so appreciate it–it means a lot to know that someone truly cares and is listening. Bless you.

  181. Abby

    Thank you for this post! I got it in my inbox just a couple of days after one of my sorority sisters passed away. In cases like this, especially with college students, the situation seems extra difficult to approach. I like the idea of sending a snail mail card! Sometimes those are the notes that warm your heart the most.

  182. Hi Marie & Team,
    My closest friend passed away in February this year after living for 7 years with a very aggressive brain tumour. The day she was diagnosed was one of the worst days of my life. My daughter was 6 months old at the time and hers just over a year. When I was going through IVF to conceive I kept day dreaming about the experiences her and I would have together with our children one day, how we will go to the beach, walk their dog, let them run around, go for walks in the forest, do art, bake and cook, us being moms together taking our friendship even to a deeper level. These daydreams and her support kept me going through the stress of IVF. And then, before she even got to see my little girl for the first time (we live in different countries) she got this life threatening diagnosis.
    The thing is, when you are close to someone their life threatening diagnosis is also devastating to you, but way bigger than that is the fact that you really want to support and love them, without adding to their sense of complete overwhelm and shock.
    I think what was key for me was to deal with my fears about her diagnosis seperately so that I could be there for her, giving her just love and support, without adding to her worries. I skipped the “I am sorry” and said “I love you and I am here for you. The diagnosis sucks and I don’t know exactly how we are all going to deal with this, but I know YOU will, and WE all will, but for now just know that you are surrounded by love”.
    Admitting to her that I also didn’t know how to deal with it, took a lot of pressure of saying the “right” thing. I remember sending her a message once after she got home from her second surgery and felt very discouraged and I just said:” I don’t know exactly how to be there for you right now and what the right things is to say, but I am imagining being right next to you, giving you a hug, getting you a cup of tea, pulling your blanket up over your shoulders, giving you a kiss on your forehead while you drift off to sleep”. She replied and said she got waves of goosebumps and it felt that she was completely surrounded by love. Even when I couldn’t do it for her in person, being thousands of miles away, she could feel the love and support.
    She choose to belief that she could be cured and made choices to support that. She lived fully and courageously, loving those around her, spending as much time in nature as she could, nurturing her garden, cooking up a storm. Of course she had many days where she felt down and worn out but she always came through those times learning something about herself and life. When it became quite obvious that she won’t be cured and that it was a matter of how long she will live, I was confused about how to support her so I decided to ask her. I just said:” You know how much I love you and that I want to support you. Please tell me how YOU want me to be there for you?” And she said:” I want you to be my lady in the red dress (from a talk she saw of a doctor about spontaneous remissions), believing that I can be cured, believing that all this can go away, because no one else, including me, have a hard time believing that”. And you know what, that is what I did, and I said she should tell me when I was getting too much or when she changed her mind. Sometimes it was hard but most times it was easy, because it was what she wanted.
    We spent many amazing times together, with our daughters and without. We made a point of staying in the moment, appreciating the times that we had. One particular day we spent in Newlands Forest in Cape Town, taking our girls and Joe the boxer for outing. It was a truly magical day, from the girls telling us to keep quiet because we are scaring the fairies away, to them playing a stream, walking on giant fallen tree trunks, discovering a mud pool, us goofing around laughing and taking pictures. Two days before she died when she went into a coma I was meditating and these memories came flooding back, it was like I was reliving the day, in HD , but the overarching feeling was the deep connection and love we felt when we were just caught up in those moments, not thinking about what she has been through, or the worries of what is to come, but just being present in those moments.
    So my two cents will be;
    1. DO deal with your own feelings, really deal with it, and do it separately from the one you are supporting.
    2. DO admit that you don’t have answers and don’t know what to do, but that you love them and that you are there for them in any way or form that they need you.
    3. DO ask them if there is something specific that you can do for them, what they would love, or what they need from you.
    4. DON’T feel too sorry for them, most people do, and it is a very disempowering feeling.
    5. DO forget that they are dying or suffering as much as you can, stay in the moment, do ordinary things with them, do extraordinary things them, laugh and play and love in those moments. I think this is the most important of all, they still want to enjoy life, they want to experience joy, not pity and doom and gloom. So create experiences where they can feel joy. Those are the magical moments of our lives.

    • Coming from the diagnosed side of a situation like this I think your advice is perfect. You and your friend were very lucky to have one another.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Such an incredible and beautiful comment, Sonja. Thank you so much for sharing your heart here, and I’m so sorry for the loss of your wonderful friend.

  183. Hi Marie and team,
    this was a very important episode and I hope it will be read widely because as you point out, we are often lost for words when faced with a grieving person and saying the wrong thing is more hurtful than saying nothing at all.
    Five years ago my husband died from cancer following two years of illness. Three weeks after the funeral a category 5 hurricane wiped out my beachside community. I was catatonic with pain and disbelief. What hurt most, were people’s reactions to my grief. My own parents were unable to comfort me. Instead they said unhelpful things like “it really wasn’t that all bad, it was only a two year illness.” Then they referred to a friend who had lost not one but two husbands and still coped ok.
    Some of my close girlfriends who in the past had listened for hours about boyfriend troubles, had a very short attention span when it came to consoling me through my grief. I was shocked. It was a real eye opener. It taught me that grief and death really are the ultimate taboo in society. It makes people aware of their own mortality and many prefer to keep away.
    This episode is very helpful and it reinforces my own experience. Don’t down play a natural disaster by saying it is only stuff. I knew it was only stuff I was loosing, but being exposed to the enormity of nature, its destructive force, can be a deeply traumatising experience. I find it really helpful to let people know that it’s ok to say “I am so sorry for your loss. I don’t know what to say.” At least it’s honest and authentic. On the flipside, during my husband’s illness I had a community of near strangers by my side supporting me in practical ways (ie. by dropping off meals, helping with the washing etc) that helped me emotionally cope.
    I think along with pre-natal classes, we should have something similar to prepare people for the end of life. It’s the ultimate taboo in a society were nothing seems to be taboo anymore.
    Thank you for this episode.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Kerstin, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and suggestions. I absolutely agree it would be wonderful if classes on preparing for end of life or supporting others going through loss and grief could be widely available.

  184. I have found a lot of wisdom in Jewish traditions around death, even though I am not Jewish. Those 4000 years of observing and caring for the human condition in family and community yield valuable advice, especially to those of us who no longer live in intact, supportive communities. The landmarks of mourning happen at one week, one month, and after you lose a parent, one year. In the first week, don’t make big demands on yourself. Let yourself just BE with your loss. In the first month, if you don’t feel like partying or going to a movie, it’s OK. Don’t force it. And if you lose a parent, adjusting to your new position in the world may take a year, at which point it’s good to do something special to acknowledge the anniversary of the death. I’ve found that in addition to “I’m sorry for your loss,” which really is the perfect thing to say when you don’t know what else to say (as I learned from a crematorium manager), I have found that “Be gentle with yourself,” or some variation, has been helpful to people mourning the loss of a loved one.

  185. Thanks! I am always silent in these grieving situations. I feel very deeply, but I don’t want to cause anymore pain so I just try to be silent. It sounds like I just need to be available for people, and be proactive in trying to help!

  186. I haven’t had the opportunity to read through all the comments but I can say what works for me. I was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year and the biggest don’t I can think of is people saying: “well, nobody knows when they are going to die – you could get hit by a bus!” Yes, I know nobody knows exactly but 40,000 women(and some men) in the US die from metastatic breast cancer every yet and an average of 50 people get hit by a bus. It really doesn’t make those of us with this diagnosis feel better. We are stressed and terrified and need to be allowed to feel what we are feeling. “Do not force gratitude” on the person was an amazing piece of advice.
    – Don’t assume the person did something wrong to get this diagnosis. (This really does happen.) I was a healthy, active, young mother when I was diagnosed and I honestly couldn’t have lived my life any differently. No one is to blame (not me, not the medical establishment, not God or gods) so don’t look for someone to blame.
    – And I can’t reiterate enough the advice that was given for specific contact: I was so sick last year and I barely remember anything – but when people would drop off meals or just do things for us (like taking the children out and letting them forget about a sick mom) made our lives so much easier. Keeping in contact, instead of leaving it up to the sick person, always works out better.
    Thank you so much for this video. I learned a lot too.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      Thank you SO much for these really smart, insightful tips, Melanie. We’re sending buckets of love your way. <3

  187. Jenn Bruns

    About a year ago, I was involved in an accident with a large buck. I luckily, was unharmed, but my car had a lot of damage. I only had it for 2 years at this point and I took a lot of pride in it. The damage was extensive and it was devasting to me! I know that might sound silly to some people, but it was a huge blow to me!
    I had several people who told me, “At least you’re ok” or “things can be replaced-you can’t.” I know they meant well, but I don’t think they really understood how upset it made me that my car was in such a mess.
    But there was something else I got that was worse than that. I would say is a BIG NO NO for someone who goes through an event like this! I had people tell me about deer accidents that went horrifically wrong! “Did you hear about that one…the buck went through the windshield…and the antlers went up under the guys neck…” Hand gestures and reenactments were included with this as you can imagine.
    They essentially put two of the ‘don’ts’ you mentioned in the video and combined them together. A simple “I’m sorry that happened” would have sufficed!

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      Oh my gosh, that sounds awful! Sometimes the old adage “less is more” applies to things like this, too. “I’m sorry that happened” is just four words, but it’s much better than all the horror story details.

  188. Oh Marie, I just had a chance to watch this! What a great video, after watching I can tell that I’ve seriously been failing in this department because I think I’ve said all the wrong things at one point or another. I think this video will stick with me moving forward and I now have a way better idea of what people need in these situations.


    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      I think we’ve all said the wrong thing at one point or another, so try not to be too hard on yourself. You can always be more mindful in the future. <3

  189. Hi Marie and Marie For-Lovers,

    Whenever someone loses a loved one, I always share my favorite little article with them. It gives you 8 different insights about the afterlife that you might not have heard before. I lost my mom 2 years ago and this story really resonated with me.

    If you or someone you know is grieving, please pass along this little insight.

    “8 Things You Didn’t Know About Death”

    1. The First Thing that Happens is Bliss.
    As soon as you die, you’re sucked out of your body into a Healing Chamber. The lights in that Chamber erase all the harm you suffered during your entire lifetime, physical, mental and emotional. So, in less than a nanosecond, all your pain is gone.

    2. You Still Feel Like Yourself.
    Even though you don’t have your body anymore, you still feel like an individual. Actually, you feel more like yourself than you did when you were alive. There’s so much influence from others while you’re on earth that in a way you don’t get to be you.

    3. Light Has a Personality.
    In the afterlife the light rays have qualities like wisdom, kindness, compassion and intelligence. This light makes visible what is invisible on earth, the Divine nature of all things.

    4. Sin and Punishment is a Human Concept.
    There’s a lot of mumbo jumbo on earth about what might be waiting for you after you die. Making mistakes while you’re alive is part of the earth deal. If we had to be perfect to get to so-called Heaven, no- one would make it there.

    5. Your Life On Earth Isn’t a Punishment Either.
    Sure, there’s pain in life, but not because you’ve done anything to deserve it. Pain is part of the human experience, as natural as breath or eyesight or blood moving through your veins.

    6. After You Die, Instead of Judgment Day There’s No-Judgment Day.
    When you review your life, you see the paths you took and the ones you didn’t. You see where your genius was and where you might have done better, but you don’t feel judgmental about it. And even though it might not make sense to you now, after you die you understand that you had a great life, even the hard parts.

    7. You’re Happy You Look Like Yourself.
    You’re not concerned with the way you look. There are no pretensions or efforts to appear any which way. You just radiate, which is effortless.

    8. Love Is Not the Same As Earth Love. You’re not loved because of what you do, how you look, how famous you are, or how much money you make. It’s not like yesterday I loved you, but today I don’t anymore. Love is truly unconditional. Most controversial of all is that in the afterlife there’s perfect compassion and no matter how you lived you are loved.”

    Hope this helps!
    With so much Love and Light,

    -Brenda N.

  190. Kathryn

    Thank you so much for the video Marie! My Beloved left his earthly body in January of this year. We had a 44 month journey with Glioblastoma (Brain Cancer) and it was beautiful, love and spirit filled, complex yet bittersweet. I could not get over the things people said and/or did or worse even, did not do. I could not imagine the loneliness and isolation I would feel in the months following. I was a 41 year old, childless widow with no one around. I just needed someone to sit with me and say nothing. Thankfully my puppy was there to lick every tear. My advice, just show up for us, no words are needed, just the warmth of your presence. Thank you again Marie.

    • Kristin - Team Forleo

      Kathryn, I’m so sorry to hear you were so isolated after losing your beloved. You’re so right that no words are needed, but presence is priceless! xo

  191. Krystal

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making this video, Marie.

    I lost my younger sister three years ago. I found people to be well meaning, but most didn’t know what to do or say. So many people did so many kind things that I still cherish during the first two weeks after she died, but contact after that was short lived. Many started to avoid me right away or after a few months to spare themselves the discomfort, which added to my pain and loss. I think a common misconception is how much time is actually needed for grief. It is not something that can be worked through in a month or two, but this feels like the expectation in our quick fix culture. I’m still adjusting to life three years later without my sister and miss her everyday.

    I love the reference to checking in and making plans. I was so overwhelmed with grief initially that even setting up a coffee date would have been too much. I needed and was so appreciative of the people who took action. The things to say and not to say in the video are spot on. Hearing things such as ‘she’s in a better place’ or ‘everything happens for a reason’ are so painful and feel dismissive to how life altering it is. These types of euphemisms put me in a position where I feel I have to defend my sadness and grief. There is a pressure for the person grieving to look on the bright side and get back to happy quickly to make others feel comfortable being around you. Eventually you are able to feel happiness again, but the loss forever changes you. I love hearing stories of my sister. Thank you for mentioning telling stories of the person. I’ve found people hesitant to bring her up, but I light up to hear someone remember her and love to hear about the impact she had on others.

    I found it difficult to find information about grief specific to losing a sibling. Most grief is written about losing a parent, spouse or child. After much searching, I found a wonderful book that brought so much comfort called, “Surviving The Death Of A Sibling: Living Through Grief When An Adult Brother Or Sister Dies” by T.J. Wray. I highly recommend it.

    Thank you again for making this video. It’s a validating message to hear and it’s wonderful to see a resource like this being made. I am a huge fan and think you are a light and an inspiration, Marie.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      Thank you so much for sharing your heart, Krystal. And you’re so right—no one should ever be made to feel like they have to defend their grief or be made to feel like they should hide their pain so others can be comfortable. This is a really good reminder to us all to really consider the implications of our words, even if we mean well by them.

  192. Jeannette Moser-Orr

    Perfect timing for this. My mother recently passed away. An old friend made the comment””there is nothing I can say to make anything easier so I won’t try”.

    Wrong. The point is TO TRY. The comment only made me angry. It gave me no comfort at all.

  193. Being a bereaved parent for almost 12 months now I say DON’T ask “how can I help” – just help! Do something. Cook a meal, send a card or a gift, clean… Same with “I’m just a phone call away” Anyone who is grieving will not call someone as their in a complete state of overwhelm and shock. As a friend or family member I think they should call, check in or text. This is what I personally found so helpful. Thanks for opening a can of worms Marie, it’s so hard to try to ‘be strong’ in a very sensitive situation. It’s hard not to take any offence to the simplest (well meaning) things people say.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      That’s a really good point, Tara. Actions speak louder than words, especially in times like this, so it’s better to do something than to pressure the grieving person into delegating. We’re sending lots of love and healing wishes your way.

  194. Jen

    What great advice! My only “do” I can offer is to LISTEN. Don’t listen to answer, just listen. I’ve lost friends over my own personal experience because they didn’t know what to say. Don’t lose your relationships!

  195. This totally resonated with me.

    When my dad died, my group of friends and some people who weren’t as close to me, showed up at the funeral. Untill this day that image stayed with me and had a profound impact. I never forgot it.

    Being present is key.

    Thank you for this!

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Thank you so much, Catarina. It means the world to know this episode really resonated with you! ♥

  196. Vitek

    Thank you so much for this episode, Marie. This is very helpful and so needed.

    My best friend’s friend died recently, she was in her twenties, she killed herself…

    I didn’t know her and I still don’t know any details because my best friend (Viki) doesn’t want to talk about it and she says that she’s ok now. But I don’t believe that, I mean, she is a tough girl but still…
    The only thing I know is that it happend about two weeks ago, I would say about the same day when you published this episode which is very spooky coincidence. And I didn’t search for this topic on the internet, I watch your videos from time to time (love them all by the way) so I just went to your youtube channel to see what’s new and when I saw the title of this, it absolutely baffled me.

    When I found out a few days ago (from our common friend Mona) what happend to that girl I was only thinking about what to do, should I write/call Viki or rather stay out of it… She lives hundrends of miles away so I couldn’t go up to her and hug her and comfort her and be with her. And because she hadn’t told me any of this I really had no idea what to do.

    But I couldn’t do nothing because I was really worried about her. So I wrote her a text message:
    (roughly translated into English)
    “Viki, Mona just told me what happend, I’m so sorry 🙁 If you need anything, let me know, I’m off of work this week so I can come over any time. If you want to talk about it or rather talk about something else, anything you need, I’m here for you!”

    And she wrote me back:
    “Thank you Vitek, I really appreciate it. I’ve just took over a new appartment yesterday so all I’m thinking about right know is moving. I’m ok by now. I had been crying for a week straight, now I only reminisce without tears 🙂 I’d love to see you but I need to go to a work related event this weekend. What’s your weekend plan?”

    So I’m not that worried about her anymore but I can’t wait till I see her.

    Hope this story will help someone in a similar situation.

    Thank you again!

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      Thank you so much for sharing, Vitek. I’m really glad you’re being supportive of your friend during this challenging time. We’ll be sending healing wishes her way in hopes that she’ll feel better soon.

  197. Sandy

    Thank you Marie,
    this came at a perfect time, as many of my friends have been losing loved ones lately and I so often don’t know what to do or say that can comfort them.

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      I’m so glad this episode was helpful, Sandy. I’m sorry to hear so many of your friends are losing loved ones. We’re sending lots of love their way.

  198. Ronald Privott

    Hi Marie,

    Thank you for all that you do. I recently loss my son at the age of 21. He passed July 13, 2016, just 8 days before his birthday July 21st. Well, I have heard alot of things that I honestly disagreed with however, I just smiled, cried, or just listened. “It will get easier as time goes on”. “His birthdays are going to be the worst”. “You’ll be okay, just lift your head up and keep moving”. Try not to think about it and things will get better”. And one that you mentioned. “If you need anything, just call me”. The list goes on and on however, I understand people in general are just trying to make you feel better and make sure you’re okay, I get it. I imagine that it is truly hard for anyone to lose a loved one, it was and still is for me. So I pray for the families that have. Praying, praying and still praying. Anyhow, continued blessings and success with your show, Marie TV. God bless.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Ronald, I’m so sorry for the loss of your son, and we’re sending our deepest condolences.

      Thank you so much for your comment and for sharing your thoughts. Even though there are some things that might be better to say to someone who is grieving, your point that people mean well and are just trying to help is so important to remember.

      We’re sending so much love your way.

    • Ronald, your comment struck a chord for me.
      My mother passed away when I was 19, 15 years ago now, and I still hold resentments around some of the comments during the week of mourning that followed. Especially an uncle who said, “we all knew this was coming.” What your comment makes me realize is that those people were looking at a 19 year old girl, full of life who had just moved cross-country to go to college and pursue her dreams trying to deal suddenly with a loss that many of them had yet to deal with themselves. In that moment of sadness and worry they found whatever words they could. They were doing the best they could. Thank you for sharing your story it has helped me see my own with more compassion and forgiveness.

  199. Here’s a DON’T I sadly came across a lot while being diagnosed with cervical cancer.
    ‘A lot of women have stage 1 don’t worry about it’ or ‘don’t worry you’ll be fine’.
    DO say:
    I am sorry, how do you feel about it?

    Last but not least a DO when someone passes.
    ‘I am here with you. Let me know how I can support you.’
    I read somewhere it’s better to say ‘with you’ than ‘for you’

  200. Alyssa

    Thank you for this episode. That is definitely something I struggle with and this is really helpful. Thanks Marie!

  201. Gina

    I just want to simply thank you for this episode. I saved it in my inbox for several weeks and just now finally stopped to watch it. I lost my 6 month old son 4 years ago due to a heart condition. I was so surprised how some people did or said very thoughtful things, while others (unintentionally) were hurtful. Thank you for sharing.

  202. There’s a LOT of comments and I tried but I can’t go through every single one, so I’m sorry if this is redundant, but I’m gonna throw it out there anyway…

    What do you say to someone you don’t know very well?

    Once, there was a new guy at work, and after a few days of working together we found out we had a lot in common. We hung out a couple times outside work, usually with other coworkers. Less than a month later, his mother unexpectedly passed away, and he had to quit the job to go be with his family. I still don’t know what exactly happened, and I don’t know how I should have approached the situation. What do you say to someone you just met? To someone who recently became a regular member of your daily life, but you don’t really consider a close personal friend yet? Or what about people you see regularly but for non-personal reasons? I’ve worked in a lot of coffee shops; you see the same people every day, but you don’t always get to have conversations that go much deeper than whether or not they want their usual drink. Then one day, it comes out that they’ve lost someone close to them or they’re suffering from an illness, and you’re faced with the strange realization that this person you interact with every day is sad and it makes you sad too but you don’t know what to do because you don’t really know them.

    Thank you for posting this video. You are right, we have such a capacity to reach out and comfort and love and we’re forgetting how to do it because we’re scared we’re going to do it wrong.

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      Mary, thank you so much for watching and commenting. These tips can definitely still apply wonderfully for situations where you’re offering words of comfort to someone you don’t know very well or even someone you’ve just met, though it might be more simplified if you’re not a close friend.

      For me personally, if it’s not someone I know well, typically my response will be short and simple, but still caring. If someone shares that a loved one passed away, you can say something as simple as, “I’m so sorry for your loss,” or if they’re going through something difficult, “I’m sorry that you’re going through a tough time right now.”

      If it’s not someone you know well, you don’t have to necessarily do or say anything beyond that unless it really feels right to you — sometimes just sharing a compassionate word with a fellow human means so much and helps them feel understood and less alone.

      I hope that helps!

  203. Thank you so much for the video Marie!

  204. AMW

    I personally am against ” I am sorry for your loss” used to the point of non meaning. Anything else you mentioned is far better.

  205. Yes, send a snail mail card. When my parents died within nine weeks of each other, it meant a lot when people took the time to send a card.

  206. Blo

    I’m just guessing Marie, you are an angel.

  207. Michele

    My brother died of colon cancer back in 2009 at the age of 46. It was devastating for our family. I will have to say that one of the best things that occurred was when people who knew my brother shared stories of how he touched their lives. It gave our family something to hold onto. And really you don’t have to say “the right thing” because there is no right thing to say. Just a hug does so much. And letting that person know you you thinking of them is simple and will mean so very much to them.

  208. Rain Valentine


    You may not see this comment, but if you do just know that YES YES YES to everything you said and researched is amazing and true. I have personally been through some major emotional abuse and even tho my faith based friends mean well and they do
    I do not believe God made me stronger my keeping me on my knees.
    “You’re stronger than you know” and “God will show you his plan when he is ready” are amazing saying we all hear and thank goodness we have faith to guide us.
    Although it was through my own study and research that I came across you and Tony and Seth and Pema, I had to create my own tribe. Abuse is a hard one to be friends with so friends drop away, slip out the back door and slowly stop calling.
    It’s like to homeless man dirty standing on the corner as we drive by we HOPE, someone will feed him, then get going because he wasn’t scheduled into our day.
    My friends HOPE I’m doing better and through my own hard work and self-love I am
    I’m taking your B-School class now, my new business is all about Waking up to a home you LOVE. Home starts within us.

    All my Love to you
    Rain Valentine

  209. Laura Zhang

    Very incisive and wise advices.
    Marie is such an impressive, beautiful (inside and out) and charming (both brain and body) lady!

  210. Marilyn

    My daughter died on 8/8/2001, over 15 years ago when she was 18, in a sudden and particularly tragic accident. Here is a list of things said to me that I found trite and offensive:
    — Our children aren’t supposed to die before we do.
    — She wouldn’t want you to feel that way.
    — I know you don’t want to hear this, but when my (dad, dog, husband, husband’s father–I heard them all) died, it took me two years to get over it.
    — I know how you feel because when I lost my husband …..
    — Maybe the reason she died was so she could welcome all the people from 9/11 into heaven
    — That will never happen to me because I don’t have any children.
    — Don’t forget about your other daughter.
    — I know how you feel; when my daughter leaves the house I worry about her all the time.
    — You should get some therapy, or go to a grief group.
    — You need to get out.
    — You must REALLY feel bad about 9/11 (in truth, at that time I couldn’t have cared less)

    I realized people meant well — therefore social graces told me I had to take care of their feelings by overlooking what they said — when I wanted to yell at them to “Just shut up!” It put an extra burden on me when I was already trying to take care of my own feelings.
    When people ask me about it, I tell them that If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything. A heartfelt look of compassion, a tender touch, a heartfelt hug go a long way, without any words having to be said.

    Some things I would have liked to hear:
    — I’m so sorry this happened and that you have to bear this grief.
    — I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts, so please call if you need anything or just want to talk. I’m a good listener.
    — I don’t have the right words to say; I just want you to know how much I care.

    Things that meant the most to me were 1) a partner who just listened and listened, and showed he cared, but never said a word, 2) a co-worker who sent me a card every week for about 6 weeks, after it seemed like everyone else had already put it in the past, 3) a neighbor who said when he was outside he could hear me crying on my back step and he felt privileged to share that with me, 4) her friends who would stop in and see me even years later, and we would talk about her.

    I purposely stayed in denial for a long time, and even to this day I sometimes deny that it could have happened. But life gets behind you and pushes you forward whether you’re ready to go or not. My life is full with activities that I enjoy and I have five wonderful grandchildren that keep me going. But it’s just been in the last year that I’ve felt like I really want to live again – not for others, but for me. I try not to think about it and keep my feelings on the surface, but about every 6-9 months I’ll have a grief episode that leaves me totally exhausted. I read somewhere, “You never get over it, you just get used to it.”

    • Mandy - Team Forleo

      Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us, Marilyn. I’m really sorry your sweet daughter passed away and that people have said so many insensitive things to you. I’m glad there have been good people to support you too. We’re sending immense love your way––for when you’re feeling ready to live again for yourself and for when you experience grief. Please be kind to yourself and allow yourself to feel everything you need to feel.

  211. Clintonia Oglesby

    Maries. Those were some great suggestions. Thank you and God Bless you

  212. Hi Marie,
    Thanks for your good writing of words of comforts.
    You are right enough that finding of words that really appeal to our friends is difficult.
    I think care should also be taken in use of appropriate media such as email, letters, cards or even facebook or twitter.
    To my view, best two expressions are 1) I am sorry for your loss and 2) Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Thanks a lot.

    • Julia - Team Forleo

      Absolutely, Cindy, it’s so important to be mindful of our words and communications of all kinds during these difficult and sensitive times. Thank you so much for sharing from your experience here and we’re glad you found this episode helpful 🙂

  213. Amy Turner

    I’m curious about if you have position openings at your company? I simply can’t get enough of your work and love sharing your advice and videos.
    Thank you for your consideration,
    Amy Turner, M.A.

  214. The best advice I got after the suicide of my child was to be kind to my husband. Although we were grieving the loss of the same person, we grieved differently, and not to judge or blame each other. This advice probably saved our marriage.

    The worst I heard was “My dog died, I know how you feel”. Remembering this still takes me to a place of disbelief. Such a person is totally clueless about having compassion for the bereaved.

    • Kate - Team Forleo

      Thank you so much for sharing and reminding us all about kindness. We’re sending you and your husband enormous love. We’re so glad you’re here. ❤️

  215. You have a great topic here. I found interesting reading your article. Thanks and keep it up.

  216. David J D'Arcy

    I so appreciate what you are trying to do. It seems like we hate vacuums in life, so when there’s a lull in the conversation, some of us feel a need to fill the void with conversation.

    Some of us want to shrink back when tragedy strikes. But, sometimes words get in the way. As I write this note, my older brother is lying in a hospital bed, dying. After taking counsel with the hospital chaplain for over an hour, my brother decided to sign a DNR. My older brother is at peace with the decision not to revive him if his heart gives out. I wish I could be there for him. I’ll be 60 years old this June. Reading your words brought memories of a conversation I had with a Navy Chaplain when I was just 18 years old. He was an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi. We were having a friendly chat, and somehow, I threw out the word mensch. The Rabbi asked me, “do you know what a mensch is?” I gave the usual answer like being a good friend or being an upstanding person, etc. He gave me a warm smile and made the observation that, for gentiles, that’s the usual definition, but in our community’s tradition, that’s just the beginning. A real mensch has an exclusive responsibility to comfort those who need comforting.

    In so doing, when someone suffers a loss, what, what can you say? A mensch’s job is to comfort. You visit the grieving person, and you sit and give the gift of your company. The mensch never initiates a conversation. Never! The person they visit can speak with their visitor, asking questions that the mensch can engage in. But sometimes silence can be a comfort. So, that taught me a lot about how to comfort people. Sometimes just being with someone is enough. Let the person you desire to comfort set the tone. There’s a time for a word of comfort and a time for the healing power of silence. Sometimes silence truly is golden, and sometimes a word or two can speak volumes. Proverbs 25:11, ” A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”

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