If you are looking for special words to comfort someone who is grieving, look no further than within your heart. Forget the clichés or any packaged sayings; it's important to be genuine. Your goal should be to express compassion, not to cheer up someone who is recently bereaved.
The Right Words to Use
With a little thought, you can find exactly what you want to say to comfort a grieving friend or family member. Keep the following list of bereavement messages on file in case you are hard-pressed to find something to say to someone who lost a loved one:
- I'm sorry.
- I care about you.
- He/she will be dearly missed.
- He/she is in my thoughts and prayers.
- You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
- You are important to me.
- My condolences.
- I hope you find some peace today.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Do you want to tell me about (the deceased's name)?
Phrases for Specific Situations
You may want to think about changing what you say depending on who you are speaking to, how well you know them, and who they are mourning. Here are a few phrases you can say in specific situations:
- For casual acquaintances: I am sorry to hear about your loss.
- For a boss or higher up: I am sorry to hear about what you are going through.
- For a close friend or family member: I can't imagine what you are going through. If you need anything, I am always here for you.
- For a close friend grieving a pet: I know how much (pet's name) meant to you. I'm going to miss him/her too. What can I do to help?
- For an acquaintance grieving a pet: I'm sorry to hear about the loss of (pet's name) I know how hard it is to lose a pet.
- lost a parent: I wish there was something I could say to make this better. I'm going to miss (parent's name) as well. Can I call to check on you later today?
- For a friend who has lost a child: What you are going through is completely unfair. Please let me know if there is ever anything I can do for you.
- For a child who has lost a parent: I am always here for you. What can I do for you today?
- For a co-worker who has lost a spouse: I'm sorry to hear about the passing of your spouse. If you'd like to talk about anything, please let me know.
- For a co-worker who has lost a child: I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Let me know if you need anything.
- For a friend who has had a miscarriage: You're an incredible person and I can't imagine how difficult this must be. How are you feeling today?
- For a friend who has lost a sibling: I am so sorry that you are going through this. I'm going to miss (sibling's name) so much. Can I bring over some dinner for you later?
- For a grandparent whose spouse has passed away: You two had an incredible relationship. I am so sorry that you are going through this.
- For a friend who has lost a grandparent: I know how much (grandparent's name) meant to you. I am here for you and would like to help you through this in any way you need.
- For a co-worker whose grandparent has passed away: I am sorry that you are going through this.
What Not to Say
While it's simple to find a few words to comfort someone who is grieving, it's even easier to say the wrong thing without even realizing it. Individuals who recently lost a loved one are going through an emotional time and the littlest thing can set them off. Be extra sensitive to those who unexpectedly lost an immediate family member. If you are still struggling with finding words to comfort someone who is grieving, remember to avoid cliches and statements that are likely to be viewed as unsympathetic. Do not say things like:
- He/she is in a better place.
- You have an angel in Heaven.
- He/she is no longer suffering.
- You can find a new love, have another baby, etc.
- You don't have to be sad; he/she is with God now.
- I know exactly how you feel.
- Everyone goes through this.
- Time heals all wounds.
- You'll get over it.
- It's time to move on.
Putting Condolences in Writing
If you are signing a sympathy card or are writing a note, remember to keep it short and simple. Include a sincere statement and a few short sentences that express how much you care. You can also include a prayer card, funeral money or a donation to a favorite charity.
Things to avoid in written expressions of sympathy include:
- Don't elaborate on the bereaved person as she may not emotionally be ready to read a long letter.
- Do not elaborate on your life or other personal issues. There will be time, later on, to catch up.
- Do not include family pictures or other mementos of your family. Save those things for holiday or birthday cards.
Acknowledge Loss in a Caring Way
It's not always easy comforting someone whose friend or family died, but it is important to acknowledge the loss as soon as possible. If you aren't able to send a sympathy card, a quick phone call is acceptable, as well as an email. Do not send a text message. Remember, any form of condolence will mean the world to the grieving individual.