How To!

How To Say the Right Thing at the Worst Time

A grief expert who dealt with her own tragic loss has guidance for the rest of us.

Illustration depicting a female with a microphone

Listen longer

Slate Plus members get ad-free versions of all Slate podcasts, plus extra segments, bonus episodes, and more. Try it free today.

Join Slate Plus

Episode Notes

Ann’s sister just lost her husband and Ann doesn’t know how to console her. Ann lives in a different state and, having experienced loss herself, knows saying the wrong thing can only add to the hurt. What can Ann do from a distance to make her sister feel better? In this episode of How To!, Megan Devine, a psychotherapist and author of It’s OK That You’re Not OK, says first of all don’t try to cheer them up. Simply acknowledge their pain. Megan learned this the hard way after the sudden loss of her partner in a tragic accident. The classic five stages of grief are problematic, Megan says, because grief doesn’t progress in an orderly fashion. To help a loved one, don’t put the burden on them to figure out how you can help. Instead, anticipate and act on what they need to get by day-to-day.

Do you have a problem that needs a creative solution? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show.

Podcast production by Derek John and Rachael Allen.

About the Show

What if Dear Abby were an investigative reporter? Each week, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit) takes on listeners’ toughest problems and, with the help of experts, finds the answers to questions you’ve always wanted to ask but couldn’t. Until now.

Do you have a problem that needs solving? Have you found the advice on our podcast helpful? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might play it on the air.

All episodes

Host

Follow