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, but what phrases are helpful to someone mourning the loss of a loved one?
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.
When you are speaking with the grieving person, say the deceased’s name frequently so the mourner knows their loved one has not been forgotten. Then, consider using the following words to express your condolences.
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.
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