What to Say to Someone Who Has Experienced the Loss of a Loved One
It can be difficult to find the words to say when a person in your life has experienced the loss of
someone very important in their life. We want to offer help, let them know we are there for them
or do things to make them feel better. Often times we’re afraid that we might say the wrong
thing and make things worse. It is important to think carefully about the words we choose to say
so that we don't inadvertently say something that is unhelpful or hurtful. Below are a few
examples of things you can say to someone in grief.
Don't Say Anything – Just Do Something
Many of us feel as though we have to find the right thing to say, and it can be uncomfortable to
have no words to offer in times of loss. The truth is, it can be a great relief to the person who is
suffering to not have to respond to our condolences. If you are not finding the words to say, you
can say it with your actions. Give them a hug and look lovingly into their eyes. Better yet, just be
there to help out. Let them know that you care by doing the dishes, taking the dog for a walk,
bringing food, running errands, or perhaps spending time with the children. Your actions will be
worth a thousand words.
Say I Care
If you have no words to express your condolences or the overwhelming love and concern you
feel for the person who has just lost a loved one, this can be the right thing to say. Let them
know that you have no words, but that you care and are there for them. Let them know that they
can call on you and that you are holding them in your thoughts or prayers. This simple gesture
can be far more consoling than any attempts to express your thoughts on their loss.
Remember the Good Times
If you were friends with or somehow related to the person who has passed, a welcome gesture
is to remember how they touched your life. Let them know that you will always remember how
funny, or smart their loved one was. Tell them about a special memory you have, or a powerful
lesson you learned from them that you will always cherish. This is good way to honor the loved
one and can bring you closer to those left behind, as they will see you as someone who knew
and cared about their special person.
Things to Keep in Mind
Even if you don't use the above suggestions for what to say, you may want to keep in mind a
few things that will help you avoid saying the wrong things. Before you say anything, ask
yourself if your words might be taken as judgmental, meddling, trying to explain things away, or
are about your own emotions and beliefs. When we say things like “it all happened for a reason”
or “you will get over this soon” we may mean well, but it can sound judgmental or as though we
are making light of the loss. Keep your intention to be kind and caring in mind and if you don't
have anything good to say, it is usually better to say nothing at all.