Finding comforting words for a friend who has lost someone they loved to death allows us to offer support and connection during one of life's most challenging passages. Bereavement is a complicated time filled with a deep sense of permanence and loss.
Many want to offer some sort of comfort, but most struggle finding the "right" words.
Below you will find some suggestions about typical things that many people say that are not helpful as well as a list of the most meaningful and comforting approaches.
What NOT to say:
"I understand how you feel". Even if you have also had a loved one die, you cannot know the experience this person had or the way they are experiencing their loss.
"Time Will Heal". Although this may indeed be true, the grief can be strong in the moment and that is all they can really understand. They need the space to feel the loss.
"At least they're in a better place and their suffering is over". This minimizes the grief and the undercurrent says "stop feeling sad".
"At least they lived a long life". Again, although these words may be true, the loss someone feels is real and we don't want to minimize their pain by rationalizing why they shouldn't be grieving.
"You have to be strong". Why do they need to be strong? This is a paradigm that really says "sad feelings are bad". People need time to grieve fully in order for them to heal.
"There is a reason for everything". Again this minimizes the deep loss someone is feeling.
"How are you doing"... it's best to assume they are not doing well and for someone who is grieving this is a difficult question.
What TO say to offer support to someone grieving:
I am so sorry for your loss.
I wish I had the right words, but know I'm here to support you.
I don't know how you feel but I'm here to help in any way I can.
You are your loved one will be in my thoughts and prayers.
My favorite memory of your loved one is...
I am always just a phone call away...day or night.
Just offer a deep heartfelt hug. Words are often inadequate at times like these, but physical presence and connection speak volumes.
Although it can feel overwhelming and even frightening to approach someone who has just experienced such a great loss, having a sense of comforting words can empower us to offer our love and support. Remember, even just a loving presence can communicate all the important things that words just don't cover.