What Text To Send When Someone Dies
When someone close to us loses a loved one, it’s normal to want to reach out and let them know you are thinking of them. In the digital age, this often means reaching for message communications like text, WhatsApp or even Facebook messenger.
If you’re on the fence about sending digital condolences, you’re not alone. While it might seem like a lowly form of communication, there are benefits to this simple way of checking in. In this guide, we’ll explore the etiquette of sending a text after someone passes away to let those grieving know you are thinking about them.
Should I text or call?
The question of whether to text or call is a difficult one as it all depends on your relationship with the person. Most people prefer a text as they can deal with it in their own time. A phone call might seem too immediate and demanding of their attention. There is a good chance your call will be missed, particularly if the person is busy making arrangements.
So in many ways, a text is easier for the other person to handle. They can read and respond in their own time, and they might even derive a lot of comfort from being able to go back to old messages and reread messages of condolence.
Is a text inappropriate?
There are a few situations where a text might be inappropriate. If you wouldn’t normally text the person, then you shouldn’t start now. For example, if the person is elderly and doesn’t often use text messaging, then a text might seem out of place.
Likewise, if the person is only an acquaintance, then it might not be appropriate to send a text. Instead, you should consider sending a condolence card.
Even if you would normally use expletives when communicating with your friend, avoid using them when talking about loss. The same goes for emojis. Stick to words and keep them clean to let the person know that you are sincere.
What should I text?
Sending a text to a friend, colleague or acquaintance in need is a simple way to show that you care. Remember that if you know them well enough to text, you should also send a condolence card or flowers for the funeral. Writing a condolence message follows similar rules to a text message, but you might want to spend a little longer crafting your message.
Knowing what to text a person who is grieving all depends on the person you are reaching out to, your relationship, and the time since the death. Below are some examples of the different types of text you might send based on these factors:
Texts for different relationships
A text to a close friend: No need to respond, I just wanted to let you know I’m thinking of you and I’ll be here if you need anything.
Text to a coworker: I can’t imagine what you’re feeling right now. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know.
Text to a neighbour: I cannot express how sorry I am for your loss. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to support you during this time.
Texts to send at different times
Immediately after: I’ve just heard about (deceased's name). I’m so sorry for your loss, I’m always here if you need anything
After the funeral: It was such a beautiful service, I hope you found some peace and comfort in seeing everyone gathered to celebrate their life. I can be over at a moment’s notice if you need anything at all.
A month after the funeral: Just wanted to check-in and see how you’re getting on. Please call if you want to chat, I’m always here.
At Christmas, birthdays or anniversaries: Thinking of you today, I know how difficult today must be for you. Text me if you need anything at all.
As you can see, the content of the text will depend entirely on the context. The main points that you need to try to communicate are:
- There is no need to respond. Don’t ask questions unless you really need the answer. Asking questions puts pressure on the receiver to respond and the message should not come with any obligations.
- You’re thinking of them. A text message is an unobtrusive way to let someone know you are in their thoughts, but it never hurts to make this abundantly clear.
- That you are there to help. Those dealing with grief often find they are struck with loneliness without warning. In these moments, it’s helpful if they know who they can reach out to. If you can offer specific ways you can help then do so; it makes it much easier for the person to take you up on the offer.
Text examples for immediately after the death
When you have just learned about the death, you will naturally want to reach out and let the person know you are thinking of them. This is one situation where a text is ideal.
Avoid making the text exchange about yourself. You shouldn’t ask “why didn’t you tell me?” or “I can’t believe I’ve only just found out” as this places blame on the grieving person and makes yourself the victim. Instead, simply acknowledge that you are now aware and let the person know that you are thinking of them. These example messages are ideal for checking in as soon as you learn of the death:
- My phone will be switched on day and night, please call if you need anything at all, even if you just want to cry.
- I wish I could be there with you right now. I’m so sorry and I love you so much.
- I don’t have the words to express how sorry I am. I’m here if you need anything.
- No need to respond, I just want you to know I’m here if you need me.
- I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now. Let me know if you need to talk and I can be right over.
- I’m so sorry for your loss, if you need anything, please let me know.
- I just heard and I’m so sorry you are going through this. I’m going to drop by with a care package this evening, I’ll leave it on your front step, but I can stay if you want to talk.
- I’m so profoundly sad about your loss. I’m here if you need anything.
Why you should always check-in
After the funeral, the crowds of wellwishers tend to drop off and the person grieving might find that they are alone. This is when true friends and loved ones will step in and let the grieving person know that they are still in their thoughts.
Those going through the grieving process might feel the pressure to move on and stop dwelling on their loss. They might find that their presence is exhausting to those around them and that they are always talking about their grief.
If you want to be truly supportive, you need to be the friend that checks regularly and never lets the person feel that their grief is too much for you to handle. If you are truly concerned about their wellbeing, you may need to encourage them to seek outside help, but often they simply need someone they can always lean on.
Text examples for the weeks and months after the death
Once the majority of the wellwishers have moved on, the grieving person may be trying to piece their life back together while always dealing with profound grief. This is when the art of the check-in texts comes in handy.
You might send a message first thing in the morning to allow them to start their day a little brighter. Or you might check in on special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries, as these will always be a little more difficult than the day-to-day. Here are some example texts you might send during this time:
- Let me know if you’re free for a coffee this week, it would be great to catch up. Thinking of you!
- I’m meal prepping for the week – what can I bring you?
- Sending good vibes your way this week, hope you’re doing ok.
- We’re overdue for a catch-up – cup of tea and a hug on Sunday?
- I’m sorry I haven’t been around much lately, always thinking of you!
- Just a reminder that you are loved and I’m here for you whatever you need.
- Hey buddy, just wanted to reach out and let you know I’m thinking of you. Give me a shout if you need anything at all!
- I know today must be really difficult for you, thinking of you always.
- I just wanted to say I’m so proud of you for your strength, thinking of you always.
Text example for acquaintances
When it comes to texting an acquaintance, the rules are a little different. Perhaps you know them well enough to send a quick message but not well enough to send a condolence card. Letting people know that you are sorry for their loss is always a welcome gesture.
People often find comfort in knowing that others have gone through similar experiences. If you are able to offer support, then it will always be welcome. Here are a few example messages you should consider sending to an acquaintance.
- I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my dad about a year ago, so I know how much it hurts. Reach out if you want to chat about it.
- Hello, no need to respond. I just wanted to let you know I’m really sorry you’re suffering. I know we aren’t that close, but I wanted you to know you can reach out if you need anything.
- I’m so sorry for what you are going through. If you need help with the dogs please let me know, I’d be happy to dog sit.
- The whole team is thinking about you at this difficult time, let me know if there’s anything we can do to help.
- Is there any work I can take off your plate to ease your mind? I’d really like to help in any way I can.
Tips for sending texts that bring comfort
Your message should always provide quiet comfort, not make the person feel obliged to respond. If you ask too many questions or demand answers, this can quickly become a message about your own needs and not the needs of the person grieving.
Here are some of the elements you should consider when sending a message that will bring the most comfort.
- Keep it short and to the point. You might have a lot you want to say, but it’s about opening a dialogue with the grieving individual, not getting something off your own chest.
- Let them know you’re thinking about them. In its simplest form, the condolence message is like sending a flare into the sky so the grieving person experiences a moment of brightness. You don’t have to say a lot. Your name flashing up on their screen will often be enough to let me know someone is sharing their pain.
- Offer specific ways you can help. Some friends are so close that they will have no hesitation in asking for help when they need it. But some people struggle to ask for help. By being specific about what you can do to help, you’ll make it easier for them to take you up on the offer.
- Check-in regularly. Even if the person does not respond straight away, you can be confident that your messages provide comfort. Check-in regularly, even if your last message has gone unanswered. Remember that the normal rules of social engagement are thrown out when a person is grieving and they may not have ignored your message on purpose.
- Let me know you love them. We might not say it to our friends often enough, but it will be a welcome message for anyone navigating the grieving process.