The Right Words to Comfort Someone Grieving

Updated October 10, 2019
comforting grieving woman

If you are looking for special words of comfort for someone who is grieving, look no further than within your heart. Forget the clichés or any packaged sayings; it's important to be genuine. Your goal should be to express compassion, not to cheer up someone who is recently bereaved.

The Right Words of Comfort for Someone Grieving

With a little thought, you can find comforting phrases that express exactly what you want to say to comfort a grieving friend or family member. Keep the following list of bereavement messages on file in case you are hard-pressed on how to say I'm sorry for your loss.

  • I'm sorry.
  • I care about you.
  • He/she will be dearly missed.
  • He/she is in my thoughts and prayers.
  • You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
  • You are important to me.
  • My condolences.
  • I hope you find some peace today.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Do you want to tell me about (the deceased's name)?
    friends having a serious discussion
  • I'm here for you.
  • I wish I could take your pain away.
  • Let me know if there's anything I can do for you.
  • I am saddened to hear about (deceased's name) passing.
  • I am so sorry that you are going through this.
  • I can't imagine what you're feeling, but I am totally here for you.
  • Know that I will be here to support you through all of this.
  • Nothing I say can change what happened, but I am here for you and your family during this time.
  • My heart hurts knowing that (deceased's name) has passed away.
  • I've lost a loved one before and can understand what you may be feeling.
  • Know that it's okay to feel however you want to feel during this time and I will be here for you.
  • May the memories of (deceased's name) bring you peace.

Related: What to Say to Someone Who Lost a Parent

Words and Phrases for Grief in Specific Situations

You may want to think about changing what you say depending on who you are speaking to, how well you know them, and who they are mourning. Here are a few comforting words to say when someone dies in specific situations:

  • Words of comfort for loss to casual acquaintances: I am sorry to hear about your loss.
  • Words for a grieving boss or higher up: I am sorry to hear about what you are going through.
  • Message to a grieving close friend or family member: I can't imagine what you are going through. If you need anything, I am always here for you.
people gripping tightly in hug
  • Words for the close friend grieving a pet: I know how much (pet's name) meant to you. I'm going to miss him/her too. What can I do to help?
  • What to say to an acquaintance grieving a pet: I'm sorry to hear about the loss of (pet's name) I know how hard it is to lose a pet.
  • Words to say to comfort a friend who has lost a parent: I wish there was something I could say to make this better. I'm going to miss (parent's name) as well. Can I call to check on you later today?
  • Words to say to friends that are grieving parents due to the loss of a child: What you are going through is completely unfair. Please let me know if there is ever anything I can do for you.
  • Condolence messages for the death of father or mother to a child who has lost a parent: I am always here for you. What can I do for you today?
  • Comforting words for a co-worker who has lost a spouse: I'm sorry to hear about the passing of your spouse. If you'd like to talk about anything, please let me know.
  • What to say to a co-worker who has lost a child: I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Let me know if you need anything.
  • Comforting words to a friend who has had a miscarriage: You're an incredible person and I can't imagine how difficult this must be. How are you feeling today?
  • Comfort words for a friend who has lost a sibling: I am so sorry that you are going through this. I'm going to miss (sibling's name) so much. Can I bring over some dinner for you later?
  • Words of grief for a grandparent whose spouse has passed away: You two had an incredible relationship. I am so sorry that you are going through this.
  • Comforting phrases for a friend who has lost a grandparent: I know how much (grandparent's name) meant to you. I am here for you and would like to help you through this in any way you need.
  • What to say to a co-worker whose grandparent has passed away: I am sorry that you are going through this.

Related: Compassionate Words for Someone Who Lost a Child

What Not to Say When Offering Words of Comfort

While it's simple to find a few words to comfort someone who is grieving, it's even easier to say the wrong thing without even realizing it. Individuals who recently lost a loved one are going through an emotional time and the littlest thing can set them off. Be extra sensitive to those who unexpectedly lost an immediate family member. If you are still struggling with finding words to comfort someone who is grieving, remember to avoid cliches and statements that are likely to be viewed as unsympathetic. Do not say things like:

  • He/she is in a better place.
  • You have an angel in Heaven.
  • He/she is no longer suffering.
  • You can find a new love, have another baby, etc.
  • You don't have to be sad; he/she is with God now.
  • I know exactly how you feel.
  • Everyone goes through this.
  • Time heals all wounds.
  • You'll get over it.
  • It's time to move on.

Putting Comforting Words in Writing

If you are signing a sympathy card or are writing a note, remember to keep it short and simple. Include a sincere statement and a few short sentences that express how much you care. You can also include a prayer card, funeral money or a donation to a favorite charity.

written condolences

Things to avoid in written expressions of sympathy include:

  • Don't elaborate on the bereaved person as she may not emotionally be ready to read a long letter.
  • Do not elaborate on your life or other personal issues. There will be time, later on, to catch up.
  • Do not include family pictures or other mementos of your family. Save those things for holiday or birthday cards.

Adding Your Words of Sympathy to a Gift

Sometimes you may prefer to send your condolences along with a traditional gift, such as flowers, food or a beautifully designed card.

  • Traditionally white flowers are sent to express sympathy. You can include your words on a card along with an arrangement of white roses or lilies, perhaps even with a small splash of a pale color like pink or yellow.
  • Another option is to send a plant, which can symbolize rebirth and renewal. Some traditional plants that are sent as sympathy gifts include peace lilies, dieffenbachia, rose plants and white orchids.
  • In some cultures, such as Judaism, it's appropriate to send a fruit basket to the family. You can opt for a traditional fruit basket or an edible arrangement of fruit and pair your words with the included card to show your thoughts and prayers are with the family. If you know the family will be hosting others to memorialize the deceased member, sending a gift of a full meal for a large gathering can be a thoughtful way of removing the burden of providing food when they would prefer to focus on grieving and being with their loved ones.
  • Greeting cards are a popular option but you can also go above and beyond to create a memorial gift that is uniquely tailored to the person who has passed. For example creating a photo book through Shutterfly with a tasteful white background accompanied by photos of their loved ones and your words memoralizing them can be a deeply moving way to honor their family member.

Acknowledge Loss in a Caring Way

It's not always easy comforting someone whose friend or family died, but it is important to acknowledge the loss as soon as possible. If you aren't able to send a sympathy card, a quick phone call is acceptable, as well as an email. Do not send a text message. Remember, any form of condolence will mean the world to the grieving individual. Next, get examples of celebration of life quotes you can use to honor a loved one who has passed.

The Right Words to Comfort Someone Grieving