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This Is What You Say to Someone After a Loss


Grieving Process

Posted On: Jan 12, 2017

This Is What You Say to Someone After a Loss

Knowing what to say to someone after they've lost someone is hardly easy. Even if you're close to the person, it's difficult to think of something that doesn't sound trite, uncaring, or silly, yet you can't simply hold your tongue and not say anything during a time like this. The truth is that, more often than not, your heart and mind will guide you to say the right thing. However, it also helps to know a few key phrases that will soothe the bereaved and let them know that you are there to offer comfort, love, and support.

Acknowledge What They're Going Through

Sometimes, a simple acknowledgment is the best gift. Let them know that you heard about your loss. Don't try to hide it or cover it with something else. Don't couch it in coy language. Letting someone know that you know what they're going through is helpful, comforting, and uncomplicated. Often, just having your pain acknowledged is enough to lift some of the burdens.

Voice Your Concern

Ask after the person you're talking to as well as the rest of the family. Ask after children, spouses, parents, grandparents. Express your concern for everyone suffering from this loss. Care and compassion go a long way.

Ask What You Can Do

Support is everything during a time of loss. There are so many things to do, so many mundane, day-to-day activities overshadowed by the enormity of the loss, it's easy for the bereaved to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Ask what you can do to help, or offer whatever support you can—an ear, a hug, a ride, food, money. Being there is even more helpful than saying the right thing. As such, don't make any offers of support that you can't keep. Don't offer to do anything you don't want to do.

Share a Memory

Judge the context of the situation when you go this route, but by and large, sharing a cherished memory about the departed is a lovely way to approach those who are left behind. It helps to know that others viewed the deceased with love and respect, as well. It makes the mourners feel less alone in their loss and gives them the opportunity to celebrate the life of the person who is no longer with them.

Ask How They Feel

Give them the opportunity to talk, cry, vent, or scream. It's especially important to ask this question of people to whom you are very close. Use that strong relationship to provide the mourner with a safe space.

If words still fail you, a hug, a twine of fingers, and even a look can sometimes say more. The most important things you can offer are your presence, your love, and your strength.