Have you ever wondered what to say to someone who has lost a loved one? Words often seem to elude us at a time we need them the most, and trying to find the right thing to say during such a sensitive time adds a certain element of pressure.
Death makes humans uncomfortable; we’re aware everyone will be affected by it at some stage, but we’re never prepared when the time comes. Trying to comfort those who are grieving often makes us ramble on and makes both parties uncomfortable.
Honestly, it’s less about what you say, and more about the fact that you’re reaching out to say it. That’s why it’s 🔑 to be concise. For some, it may be tempting to avoid talking to the grieving party all together, but that’s the last thing you should do. They’re already in emotional pain, and feeling vulnerable — don’t make matters worse by ignoring them. If they want to talk, just listen. Sometimes simply being there is the best way to show your support.
The best advice? Think before you speak — that way you won’t end up saying something you may regret.
Appropriate ways to express your condolences
- It’s never easy expressing your thoughts and feelings, especially during such an emotional time. One of the best things to say is to share a happy memory of the deceased — it can help brighten the mood during a time of mourning and sorrow.
- I was so sorry to hear that X passed away.
- I just want you to know that if you need to talk, I’m here for you.
- I wish I had the right words for you. All I can say is that I’m here if you need anything at all.
- This must be such a difficult time for you. I can’t imagine how you must be feeling.
- I know how much you loved them…we all did. They will be truly and deeply missed.
- X was such an incredible person. I remember the time when…
- I can’t even begin to express how sorry I am for your loss. You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.
- They were such a generous person. Their legacy will live on for generations.
- I wish there was more I could do. Please don’t hesitate to call me at any time, day or night — I’m here for you if you need me.
- When offering to help out in any capacity, try to back it up with concrete actions and time frames. Things like “I’d like to bring dinner over on Tuesday night” or “You must be exhausted, why don’t I come over and watch the kids while you take some time to rest”. - This will make it much easier to take you up on the offer without feeling like a burden. 👌
Things not to say
- Avoid starting any sentence with “at least…”. No matter what you might think, there is probably no bright side to this moment.
- “Everything happens for a reason” — whether you believe this to be true or not, it probably won’t bring any comfort to those who are grieving.
- “I know how you feel” — because grief affects everyone differently, you don’t actually know how the other person is feeling.
- Another thing to avoid is relating your pet dying to someone losing a spouse, relative, or child.
Knowing what to say when someone dies is a valuable skill, whether it’s in person, at the funeral or over the phone. You may also be struggling to come up with what to write in a sympathy card 💌, or a message to send with funeral flowers 💐, but don’t worry. Small actions like taking the time to send a card or flowers often speak quite loudly. If nothing you want to say sounds right, that’s okay. The most important thing is to be there for those who are mourning the loss of a loved one, whether that’s immediately after the fact, or months down the line. 🥰