I am reposting this with the book excerpt by itself. Having gone through the grief process myself, I wish I had had something like this to pass to well-meaning friends.
I ran across this page in a book that I thought I'd share with you. If your friend is grieving, this a good example of re-framing your approach to him or her. If you are the grieving one, I encourage you to give this to your friends.
What Can I Say to My Grieving Friend?
Instead of: "I know exactly how you feel."
Try: "I can only imagine what you're going through."
Instead of: "At least he doesn't have to suffer anymore."
Try: "He suffered through a lot, didn't he?"
Instead of: "It's God's will."
Try: "One comfort I find is God's promise to never abandon us."
Instead of: "She wouldn't want you to grieve."
Try: "It's hard to say good-bye, isn't it?"
Instead of: "You can't be angry with God."
Try: "God understands even when we're upset."
Instead of: "At least you have other family members." [or any other "at least," for that matter]
Try: "There's no way to replace the one you've lost, is there?"
Instead of: "Don't you think it's time to get on with living your life?"
Try: "Everyone has to grieve in their own way, don't they?"
Instead of: "Don't talk about the funeral--it will only make you sad."
Try: "We can talk about whatever you want."
Instead of: "Time heals all wounds."
Try: "Time will lessen the pain, but you'll always have a part of him/her with you."
Instead of: "You've got to be strong."
Try: "I want you to know you can be yourself around me"
Excerpt from the book Disrupted: Finding God in Illness & Loss by Virgil M. Fry, Houston, TX
[reprinted with permission]