What Should You Say To Someone Grieving A Loved One's Death?

Written by Aimee DuFresne

After sweating through a hot yoga class, my friends and I went to the nearest juice bar for a smoothie. While waiting for our drinks, I started talking to a man who was also waiting. The topic turned to why I was in town (a book tour), and the topic of my book (grief and dealing with death).

Then it turned a little too technical.

  • How did he die?
  • When did it happen?
  • Where was he?
  • What was he hit by?

And on and on …

Then, thankfully, this man's smoothie was ready and we could easily part ways.


Six years since losing my first husband and I still hate it when people ask these questions. I get that the guy was curious. But I care less about how Ben died. What I focus on is the 30 years of awesome living he did.

The eight years we spent together.

The places we traveled and good times we shared in our home and abroad.

His kind heart.

His "can do" attitude.

His ability to think outside the box and go after his dreams.

I’m grateful for every moment, down to the seemingly tiniest ones that made the biggest impact on my life (like watching him smile while sleeping and listening to his heartbeat).

When I meet someone who has lost a loved one, I don’t care how they died. I want to know how they lived. And how they continue to live on, in our minds, and in our hearts.

I had the pleasure of meeting someone on a chance encounter while we were both waiting in line at a winery one day.

She had recently lost her mother.

By another chance (or act of the angels, as I call it), our paths crossed again and we met for dinner. There she told me more about her mother. She shared with me photos from their cross-country travels, stories of their adventures, and a book she wrote about her beloved mom. I feel privileged I got to know her.

When you lose someone you love, try focusing on their life, and what they brought to yours to make it better.

Yes, the pain of the loss will always be there, leaving a hole.

But you can choose to fill it with love.

And their light will shine on.

Because love never dies. But it sometimes gets buried, whether it’s by harsh words, inconsiderate actions or expectations.

When you meet someone who has lost someone, instead of asking the details of how they died, why not ask something different, like:

  • What was their name?
  • What did they love to do?
  • How did they inspire you?
  • Have you ever received signs from them since their passing?

Focus on the life, rather than the loss.

Fill the hollowness the person left behind with love.

It might make all the difference.

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