You visit someone in grief to share in it and make the burden of grief lighter. You could inadvertently make it heavier by making careless comments and through a body language ( or the display of emotions) that is totally out of sync with the atmosphere. This kind of carelessness could be interpreted as mockery by the person who is grieving.
So, when go over to comfort someone in great grief,
1. Don’t talk much. Your presence alone has spoken volumes. Talking too much increases the chances of saying the wrong things,
2. Don’t offer advice or make suggestions beyond those traditional comforting words. But when the person in grief seeks your advice or suggestions, feel free to give them. However stay within normal limits by not crying more than the bereaved,
3. Avoid cracking jokes, the atmosphere calls for solemnity,
4. Avoid saying, “I understand exactly how you feel” or “I know exactly what you are going through” because you don’t understand or know ‘exactly’. We are talking about a different person, here who may be going through an experience for the first time at a different time and different place. However, you can share your experience when permitted but don’t say things which suggest that what the person is going through is a joke,
5. Remember to allow others have their turn to say something. The gathering is not about you, it’s about someone else who is going through a difficult period,
6. Adopt a friendly and an informal approach in your conversations. It’s a tensed atmosphere already,
7. Finally, your visit shouldn’t be too short or too long. Your host needs some time to be alone and make new plans, readjust and refocus.