5 Helpful Things to Say to Someone Facing Grief and Loss

    January 16, 2014 1 Comment

Grief and Grieving: What to Say to the Grieving

It’s important that grievers know they’re not alone and that their loved one will not be forgotten.

Not sure what to say to those dealing with grief and loss?

When offering condolences, it can be hard to find the right words to use to let someone know that you care and that they are not alone. There are many phrases you should avoid when talking to grievers, but what if you want to know what you should say? Sometimes, you don’t have to say anything at all – just be there, give the griever your full attention, and offer a hug. Don’t underestimate the power of your physical presence and patient ear.

But when you’re speaking with the grieving person, try using some of the phrases listed below (assuming you genuinely mean what you’re saying). And keep in mind, saying the deceased’s name frequently helps the mourner know their loved one has not been forgotten.

Helpful words to express your condolences to those facing grief and loss

I can’t imagine what you are feeling or going through, but I am so sorry for your loss
While it can be uncomfortable for some people to acknowledge the deceased person because they don’t know exactly what words to use or because they are afraid of reminding the mourner of their loss, it’s important not to ignore or avoid the situation. It’s important that grievers know you care about their pain and their loved one.

Please know, I am here for you – I’ll call you tomorrow and we can talk if you feel up to it
It’s best to let the grieving person know that you’re there for them, and then immediately follow your statement with an action. People often tell mourners they are “here for you.” But those words don’t mean much unless they are followed by action. It may be hard for a grieving person to call and ask for a shoulder to cry on or a patient listener – they may feel they are a burden on others.

You and your loved one are in my thoughts. Your loved one was a wonderful person and is sorely missed.
If you knew the deceased, share a story about them. Grievers find comfort in memories about their loved ones – it reminds them that their loved ones will not be forgotten. And if the mourner cries as you’re talking, don’t worry. Tears are natural – just offer a hug or a hand squeeze.

I can’t imagine how painful it must be to lose someone you love so much
It’s important not to minimize the loss of a griever’s loved one. Use words that show you empathize with their pain, even if you’ve never experienced such a loss.

I brought you dinner, which you can eat or freeze. And it’s in a disposable container, so don’t worry about returning the dishes
People grieving the loss of a loved one always appreciate a basket of snacks or a homemade meal. These gestures not only make their days easier, they also serve as reminders that others are thinking about them and care about their loss.

Have you found any other phrases or words to be helpful? Please share your advice in the comments area below.

Leah Yomtovian Roush is the Senior Manager of Strategic Development for Cleveland, Ohio-based eFuneral, a comprehensive and free online resource that enables those thinking about end-of-life to research, plan, and arrange a wide variety of funeral-related services. Leah is the editor of eFuneral's Online Resource Center, and she manages the company's marketing efforts and develops strategies for company growth. Leah also serves on the Boards of multiple non-profit organizations, helping them expand their reaches and increase their impacts.

  • Judy

    I found your words of wisdom on what to say to someone grieving or dying very valuable and true. We lost our son in the fall of 2012 to suicide and I was touched and comforted most by the friends that did just what you recommend above. We now use the things that people did for us that meant so much, to comfort others. The simple phrase, I am so sorry for your loss and a simple hug, speaks volumes and the shared stories of the loved one are very comforting and healing. My husband and I just attended two family members funerals this past week and at one, friends and family were invited to share at the podium. This so often makes people uncomfortable to speak in front of a crowd and puts you on the spot. I have been at funerals where no one goes forward. I was amazed at how many walked forward to share, they each simply told an amusing story of the loved one that passed and stated he would be greatly missed. This touched the wife, mother and sons more than anything that day. They still are marveling at what they didn’t know about their loved one and how respected he was by all.

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