Have you ever wondered what to say to a friend who has just lost a loved one? It's not easy to find words of comfort for their loss, is it? But the fact remains that you should say something to offer your sympathy and show your support to the person.
What you say doesn't have to be long. It's often better if you keep the words short and focus more on the way you say them.
Even a brief statement letting them know you are thinking of them during their time of grief can be comforting when they are deeply mourning. Sometimes just a few words and a hug or hand squeeze can be the most effective thing you can do.
Finding the Right Words
One of the most difficult things for most people to do is to find the right words to say 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 keeping your conversation brief and focused on what you are there for. The most important thing is to show sympathy and understanding in as few words as possible.
Watch Now: What to Write in a Sympathy Card
Comfort During a Time of Grief
It might be tempting to avoid talking to the grieving family altogether, but that is not good either. 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. It is best to keep your communication short but comforting.
Your first words of condolence might be at the funeral. Offer your sympathy, give the person a hug if it is appropriate, and then back away. Then let someone else have a chance to offer condolences.
If the person wants to talk, listen. Sometimes it's best to not say anything but simply be there to show your support. A simple "I am so sorry" may be all that is needed from you.
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:
- There are no words to tell you how sorry I am. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.
- I am so sad to hear about your loss. If you feel like talking, please don't hesitate to call me.
- John brought so much joy to everyone around him. He will be missed by many.
- My favorite memory of your grandfather was that time we made ice cream in his back yard. He was truly a wonderful man.
- I am so sorry for your loss. I will always remember Mary and how much she loved you and the rest of your family.
- 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.
- If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know.
- Susan was such a shining light in so many people's lives. We will all miss her terribly. Please know that I will be here for you when you need to talk.
- I can't even begin to express how my heart aches for you. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.
- George was such a generous person. We will all miss him, but his legacy will live on through all the great work he did.
- 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.
Loss of a Pet
If someone you care about recently lost a pet, you'll want to express your sympathy in a gentle manner. A brief message, such as, "I'm so sorry about the passing of Fluffy. She was such a sweet cat, and I know how much you loved her," is all you need to say or write.