A friend has just lost a loved one – so what do you say? This is a difficult question that many struggle with. At a time of loss, it can be hard to find the right words that express genuine sympathy and provide support to your friend. Whatever you say doesn’t have to be long winded, but it is often important to at least say something. A short statement letting them know they’re in your thoughts and you care about them can be comforting during their time of grief.
Speak from the Heart
The key is to speak from the heart. Let your friend know you’re thinking of them, care about them and show your support. At a time of a friend’s grief, less can be better. Avoid rambling on. A quiet, comforting voice is refreshing at a time of loss. A few words and a hug can go a long way.
What about Saying Nothing?
In many cases, it is not a good idea to say nothing. Even though your friend may shut themself off from the world around them at their time of grief and saying nothing is an easier route for you, expressing you care can go a long way and provide comfort. Preferably, speak to them in person. However, if you’re unable to, a phone call, text, or even a message to them on social media is better than saying nothing at all.
So, What Do I Say?
A short message is a great idea for most situations. A hug is also a good and comforting gesture. You know your friend best, but here are some examples that may help you figure out what to say:
- I am so sorry for your loss. John will be greatly missed.
- John was a great person. He will be missed by everybody who knew him.
- John touched so many and will be greatly missed.
- There are no words to tell you how sorry I am. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
- John was such a great person and will be missed by anybody who know him. Please let me know if you need anything.
- I am so sorry for your loss. If you need anything or want somebody to talk to, I’m here for you.
- I’m sorry for your loss. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.
- I wish I had the right words, but just know that I care.
- I do not know how you feel, but am here to help anyway that I can.
- We all need some help at times like this. Let me know what I can do – I am here for you
When Do I Say It?
This depends on how close you are to the friend who just lost somebody, or how closely you knew the person who passed. If you’re really close, many people decide to call or visit their friend right after to talk and offer to help with the funeral arrangement, or other plans. If you’re not as close, a short message on social media, or text, then a hug and a brief statement to your friend at, or right after, the funeral would typically make sense. If it’s more of a distant friend, seeing them at the funeral or right after the funeral and simply saying something then is appropriate.
Whether it’s a close or distant friend, a sympathy card is always a good idea to send to them after they lose somebody. Again, a brief thoughtful message in a card goes a long way. Hand write your card and drop it in the mail or have it delivered to their home – this is much more of a personal touch than an e-card.
Things to Avoid Saying
This all depends on the person you’re speaking to, however, here are some common things people say to others at their time of grief that should be avoided.
- I always believe there’s a reason for everything in life
- He brought this on himself
- You’re still young and can have another child
- I know exactly how you feel
- It was his time to go
- At least he lived a long life and didn’t die young
- It happened for the best
Additional Things to Consider
If you’re a close friend to the person who lost a loved one, you may spend a lot of time with that friend in the coming days after their loved one passed. Be there to provide support, and help when needed. If you’re asked to help with the funeral arrangements, be sure to do your research and help your friend wherever it is needed. This may include contacting others about the passing, helping to write the obituary, picking up mail and newspapers at the home of the person who passed, etc. Another thing to consider is the memorial of the person who passed. If burial is chosen, most families have a tombstone, or marker, above the gravesite as the memorial. If cremation is chosen, there are now many different options for families, including a biodegradable urn that grows a tree, scattering the ashes at their favorite place, or creating memorial jewelry with the ashes of their loved one.