Texting is not the ideal way to reach out to someone who is grieving, but sometimes it's the most appropriate manner of condolences based on varying sets of circumstances. When you can't be there in person to offer your comfort and support, and your communication is typically done via text, reaching out by text is far better than not reaching out at all.
Text Messages to Send the Newly Grief-Stricken
Immediately following a death, the surviving spouse, parent, or child will likely be inundated by texts and messages. For many people, texting and messaging is a safe way to offer condolences. Other people have a reaction to the news of a death where they reach out to the grieving person to either ask, "Why didn't you tell me?" or "I'm hurting so much," neither of which is appropriate when someone is trying to process death. In the case of someone's passing, be sure the text you send is one of condolences. Furthermore, do not be offended if you don't receive a response. The person on the receiving end of the message is dealing with many priorities that outrank returning a text message.
Text Examples of Condolences Immediately Following a Death
As soon as you hear of a person's passing, you might choose to immediately reach out and extend your love and support during their time of need. Here are some examples of appropriate texts to send immediately following a death:
- I'm leaving my phone on tonight in case you want to talk. It doesn't matter what time, I will be there.
- I can be at your house by 5:00. Let me come over and help however you need it.
- Don't worry about responding... I just want you to know I'm sorry and I'm here for you.
- I don't know the right words to say right now. But I am sorry, and I love you.
- I wish I could be there with you right now. Are there people there to help you?
- What can I do to help you right now?
- I can't imagine how you're feeling right now, but I want you to know I am here for you.
- I just heard about (name of deceased's) passing. Please know you and your family are in my heart.
- So profoundly sad at your loss. We are happy to help in any way possible.
- I know the death of (person who passed) was sudden and is still raw. I just wanted to text and let you know I love you. I'll check in with you in the next few days to see where we can help.
Offering Condolences Via Text Message
You may not feel comfortable reaching out to the grieving person until a couple of days after the death of their loved one. Waiting a few days to extend condolences can give those in mourning time to process the reality of the loved one's passing, and allow them to get into a headspace where they can deal with incoming texts. Remember to tailor your message to the relationship level you have with the person suffering a loss. If you are extremely close, a lengthy message might suffice. If you do not communicate with the person on a regular or a deep level, keep the message short and concise. In every case of offering condolences, keep the focus on the person suffering, never on your own sadness.
- Do you need help with the memorial service? I can help.
- You're in our prayers, and we love you.
- (Deceased) was a fantastic person, and everyone will miss them.
- Is there anything I can do to help you? Anything at all?
- (Deceased's) memory will live on through you. They were always so proud of you.
- Whatever I can do to support you, I am willing and able.
- We are all right there behind you, here to love you through this difficult time.
- We're pulling together some casseroles for your family. Let us know a delivery time that works for you.
- May I swing by and pick up the kids for a few hours so you can have some time to think?
- I'm here to drive you around, bring you food, clean your kitchen, run errands, make phone calls, or do anything else you need.
Showing Your Support After the Crowd Leaves
Grieving people don't magically stop grieving just because a funeral or memorial service has happened. In fact, this is the time they are probably most vulnerable since all the offers of help have started to wane, and they are left with the gaping hole that is profound loss and sadness. Reaching out to someone to check up on them as they are in the midst of the grieving process can be a thoughtful gesture on your part. You may find that texting the grieving person after services allows them to be more willing to engage in conversation than they would have been immediately following the death.
Text Examples for Those Grieving a Loss
These texts offer support that isn't vague, but rather specific to the possible needs of a grieving individual who has suffered a tremendous and recent loss. They help remind the grieving person that while this might be the most lonely they have ever felt, they are indeed not alone, and people care about them and continue to want to help them through this difficult time.
- Does your schedule allow you to get away for coffee on Thursday? Name the place, and I can be there!
- May I have some meals sent to you? Any special requests?
- I'm thinking of you right now and sending good energy your way.
- I can't take away your pain, but I can offer you a listening ear, a cup of tea, or a big hug at any time.
- I am here for you and am always available to talk about anything. You are loved, and I want to help you.
- I'm sorry I can't be there in person right now; I am here for you in whatever way I can help.
- I care about you, and I'm sorry you had to go through this.
- Whenever you need a friend, dial this number.
- Hey friend, reaching out to see how you are and if you want to talk?
- Just texting to say I love you.
Texts of Support to Send Someone Who's Missing the Deceased
The anniversary of a person's death can be difficult to deal with, as can the deceased's birthday or any other special occasion to which the deceased was tied (such as a wedding anniversary). Mark these dates on your personal calendar, and make sure to reach out to their loved ones on significant milestone days. These specific days will likely be challenging for years to come, and a few words via text can make them feel supported and considered.
- I know today is an important day. Are you doing OK?
- Do you feel like talking? I can call you after work if you'd like.
- Today reminds me of that lake trip we took for your second anniversary. (Deceased) was the best swimmer by far! They will be missed.
- Here's my favorite picture of (Deceased) - They will be missed! (attach a photo of Deceased)
- I'm drinking a beer in memory of (Deceased) and toasting them right now.
- I saw a gorgeous rainbow in the sky today. Of course, things of beauty are everywhere on (Deceased)'s birthday!
- On (blank's birthday), I like to think of them (insert the favorite activity of the person who passed).
- Some days are harder than others, I am sure. While I can't pretend to know such insurmountable grief as you do, I imagine today is difficult. Thus, I wanted to check in and tell you I love you.
- We cry because we miss them so, but smile for all the memories that we had time to create with them. Hoping you are surrounded by the fondest thoughts of your days together.
- If you want company today, I am here. If you need to be alone, I understand entirely. Just know I'm a text message or call away.
Texting an Acquaintance After They Experience a Loss
Should you text someone who doesn't necessarily fall within your category of "loved ones" (like a co-worker or friend of a friend) after they experience the death of someone close to them? Yes. If texting is the only option, a text of condolences can help the person feel a little less alone. In this instance, don't try to make the same statement you would for someone close to you. Instead, a simple text is your best bet. Your message should focus on comforting the recipient. Don't expect them to open up to you if you aren't particularly close, but be prepared for the possibility that they express emotions openly with you. Remember, you don't know this person as closely as you know others, so guessing at how they process grief won't be possible. Be open to whatever type of response you receive.
- I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. I, too, have lost my (blank), and while I don't pretend to know your level of grief, I can empathize with this challenging time.
- Your cubicle crew is thinking of you during this challenging time. (For a work acquaintance).
- I cannot take away your pain, but I can take away your hunger. (Donuts and coffee are in the breakroom).
- Is there anything I can take care of for you here at the office while you're gone? I want to help you in any way I can.
- Hi, I heard through (blank) you lost (blank). So sorry to hear about this. You are in our thoughts.
- I wanted to drop a note letting you know how sorry we all were to hear about your loss.
- Please take whatever time you need to process your loss and be with your family. We have work covered. (From a manager to an employee).
- So sorry to hear about (blank's passing.) I remember how fondly you spoke of them. You are in our thoughts during this terribly difficult time.
- So saddened by the loss of your (blank). Anything I can take off of your plate, please let me know. (Appropriate for a co-worker).
Tips for Sending Comforting Texts
A text is a quick way to check in on someone who is hurting due to the loss of a loved one. If you know the person well or are close to them (proximity speaking), offer help in a specific manner. If you are not close emotionally or locationally, still reach out to let those suffering know you are thinking of them.
Brevity and Tone
Keep your text brief, especially when the news of the death is relatively new. The recipient will be dealing with myriad emotions, and reading through a lengthy text might be a chore. Also, remember that texting lacks the benefit of nonverbal communication; read and re-read your text before sending it to ensure it can't be misunderstood.
Simplicity Is Key
It may feel generic to send a text that says, "I'm sorry for your loss" or "My prayers are with you," but if you're having trouble forming the right words, it's better to send a simple text than not contact the person at all. Give yourself a little grace if you are grieving too, or if you have little experience with the process of losing someone close to you. Nobody expects you to come up with the perfect words, and no matter how great or profound your words might be, you cannot ever take the pain away for another.
"Everything happens for a reason," or "God must have needed another angel," probably isn't going to help the person feel comforted because both statements indicate a higher power wanted the person dead. It's not a very comforting thought unless the recipient believes in a divine plan and accepts it. It is best to avoid these types of condolences unless you are absolutely sure they will resonate with the person on the other end of your text message.
Know When a Text Is Appropriate and When It Is Not
A text is sometimes not the best way to reach out to someone grieving the loss of a loved one. People who don't typically text might be offended by a condolences text instead of comforted, since texts can be too casual for a situation such as death. Decide if texting is the right decision. Consider the person grieving and your personal relationship with them. If texting is indeed the best option, be thoughtful in what you send, as words can be impactful during an emotional time.