Words of Condolence

Grieving man and child
Kind words can be comforting to someone who has lost a loved one. Altrendo Images/Getty Images

Have you ever wondered what to say to a friend who has just lost a loved one? It's never easy, but the fact remains that you should say something to offer your sympathy. It doesn't have to be long. Even a brief statement letting them know you're thinking of them during their time of grief can be comforting.

Finding the Right Words

One of the most difficult things for most people to do is to find the right words after someone passes away.

It's sad enough that someone has died, but no one wants to slip up and say something to make the surviving family members feel worse. Some people ramble when they're nervous, so concentrate on being understanding and sympathetic but brief.

Comfort During a Time of Grief

Rather than avoid talking to the survivors, spend some time thinking about the words that will offer the most comfort. Keep their personalities and temperament in mind. And remember that you don't have to ramble on and on. Offer your sympathy, give the person a hug if it is appropriate, and then back away and let someone else have a chance to offer condolences.

After you speak to the family members of the deceased, you may join other conversations during the visitation or before the funeral service begins. Keep your tone low and soothing. Avoid starting or participating in a conversation that is less than respectful to the family and close friends of the deceased.

What to Say

If you find yourself at a loss for words at a funeral, you are not alone. Most people are uncomfortable in this situation. Think before you speak so you don't say something you'll later regret.

Here are some examples of what to say:

  1. There are no words to tell you how sorry I am. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.
  1. I am so sad to hear about your loss. If you feel like talking, please don't hesitate to call me.
  2. John brought so much joy to everyone around him. He'll be missed by many.
  3. I'm so sorry for your loss. I'll always remember Mary and how much she loved you and the rest of your family.
  4. I wish I could take away your pain. Just know that I am thinking about you and praying for comfort for you and your family.
  5. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know.
  6. Susan was such a shining light in so many people's life. We'll all miss her terribly. Please know that I'll be here for you when you need to talk.
  7. I can't even begin to express how my heart aches for you. You'll be in my prayers.
  8. George was such a generous person. We'll all miss him, but his legacy will live on through all the great work he did.
  9. I'll miss Tom's kind words and sweet smile. Please know that I'll be praying for you and your family.

These words can be spoken before and after the funeral, and you may use them in a sympathy card. What you don't want to do is try to explain a reason for the person's death or act as though the deceased or the family is better off. Even if the person who died suffered for weeks, months, or years, those close to him or her will feel pain that can't be washed away by explanations.