The Words that will Comfort Someone Grieving
You already know the words to comfort someone who is grieving, but it can take some soul searching to dig them out. When speaking to someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one, you should always speak from the heart. You should also remember that cliches are cliches for a reason. They’re effective and they communicate a lot.
If you’re worried that you won’t know what to say to someone who is grieving, remember that they aren’t likely to pick apart what you have said. They might not even absorb what you have said. Instead, they simply need to know that they have people around them who care for them. And the simplest way to achieve this is through your words and your actions.
Note that we said actions, not just words. While it is helpful to get some pointers on what to say to someone who is grieving, it’s also important that they aren’t just empty words. If you make an offer, you have to be ready to back it up. For example, if you say you’re there to help, you need to make sure you can actually be there to offer a helping hand.
How to find the right words to comfort someone
The right words should come to you in the moment, but if you are nervous about saying the wrong thing, try these suggestions below. If you are struggling to find the right words to help a loved one deal with their grief, then these simple phrases should help. Save a copy of his article or bookmark it so that you can quickly reference them as needed.
I want you to know how much I care about you.
He/she will be missed.
He/she is in our thoughts and prayers.
I’ll pray for him/her.
You and your family are in my thoughts.
Sorry for your loss.
Be kind to yourself.
I hope you can one day find some peace.
Would you like to talk about it?
Would you like to tell me more about them?
I’ll always be here for you.
I wish there was a way I could take away your pain and suffering.
Please let me know if there is any way I can help.
I am so saddened to hear of (their name)’s passing.
I am so sorry you have to go through this.
My heart aches for you.
I cannot begin to imagine what you are feeling.
I don’t have the words to express how deeply sorry I am.
I can’t imagine what you are feeling at this time, please let me know if there is any way I can lessen your pain.
I have also lost a loved one and I understand your pain.
I hope your warm memories of your loved one bring you some comfort.
Please know that it’s ok to feel however you want and I’ll be with you every step of the way.
These words and phrases are all suitable for someone you know very well such as an immediate family member, or someone who is more distant such as a friend, colleague, neighbour or acquaintance.
These words and phrases above are all suitable for sudden or expected death, but sometimes you might need something more specific to the situation. The relationship dynamic might influence what you say and what you offer to do to help.
Words and phrases for specific situations
Think about who you are speaking to and your past relationship with them. While support can come from unexpected places when you are grieving, it’s often best to think about your existing relationship when offering words of support and condolences.
- Words of comfort for a casual acquaintance: I’m so sorry for your loss.
- Words of condolence for a boss or superior: I am very sorry to hear what you are going through. My thoughts are with your family at this time.
- A message of support for a close friend: I’m so sorry you have to endure this, remember that I’m always here for you no matter what.
- Words for a close friend who has lost a pet: I’m so sorry to hear about (pet’s name). I know how much he/she meant to you. Please let me know if you want to talk about it.
- Words for a casual acquaintance grieving a pet: I’m sorry for your loss, I know how difficult this must be for you.
- Words to comfort a friend grieving the death of a parent: I wish I could be there with you, I’m going to miss (deceased’s name) so much. Let me know if you need me to visit later.
- Words for a parent who has lost a child: No one should have to go through what you are going through, please let me know if there’s anything at all I can do to help.
- Words for a co-worker who has lost their partner: I’m so sorry to hear about your loss, if you ever need someone to talk to at work, please let me know.
- Words for a co-worker who has lost a child: I cannot imagine what you’re going through right now. If you need any help with anything, let me know.
- Words for a friend who has miscarried: Remember that I’ll always be there for you no matter what, call me if you need to talk.
- Words for a grandparent whose partner has passed away: I’m going to miss (grandma/grandad) so much, call me if you need anything at all.
- Words for a co-worker who has lost a grandparent: I’m sorry you’re going through this, I also lost my grandparent recently so I know what this feels like. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to support you.
What you should never say when offering condolences
If you speak from the heart and are honest about your feelings, there is little chance that you will slip up when offering your condolences. However, there are a few sayings and sentiments that you should steer clear of when speaking to those who have lost someone. These phrases can be considered dismissive or unsympathetic and are best avoided.
- Don’t worry, they’re in a better place.
- Heaven gained another angel.
- At least they aren’t suffering anymore.
- You’ll move on/ have another baby/ find another partner.
- You don’t need to be sad, they’re with God now.
- We’ve all felt this way at some point.
- Just give it time.
- I know how you feel.
- You’ll get over it eventually.
- It’s time to move on.
While some of these phrases seem quite callous, you’d be surprised how many people think they are being helpful when they say them. Saying something like “don’t worry, you’ll move on” sounds dismissive of their feelings.
You should also avoid any sentiment that refers to God or heaven, as not everyone will share your beliefs. It’s fine to say that you are keeping them in your prayers, but be wary of implying that their loved one is in a better place – they certainly won’t see it that way.
How to write a sympathy card
Sometimes you have to put your thoughts and emotions into writing. If you have to write a sympathy card, don’t panic. The same rules apply to what you would say to someone in person. Here are a few tips for writing a sympathy card.
- Keep it short. It should be around 2-5 sentences long, so don’t worry about writing an essay. When you keep it short, you avoid the common faux pas of writing about the deceased in great detail. Remember that the person reading the card might not be ready to reflect yet.
- Let them know how you can help. If you offer your assistance in any way, try backing it up with a specific example. So, if the grieving person has young children the same age as your own, offer to arrange a playdate to give their parents time to make arrangements.
- Remember your existing relationship. If the person is merely an acquaintance, keep this in mind when writing their card. For example, you would write a very different condolence card for a boss than you would for a best friend.
- Don’t overthink it. The person receiving the card will find some comfort in knowing that so many people are keeping them in their thoughts, but they aren’t going to be preoccupied with the contents of the card at this time. If you can’t think of anything meaningful to say, then simply say something supportive and move on.
A card is commonly sent along with a gift. This could include white flowers, a plant, or a fruit basket. Another excellent idea for someone you know quite well would be to send the card along with a full meal. A casserole dish of food that can be quickly cooked in the oven is a caring and thoughtful gesture. It’s also very practical, as many people forget to eat when they are grieving.