What to Say to Someone Who Lost a Loved One

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Sarvika Aggarwal

26 October 2023

6 Mins

Grief can be a lonely road, and when we see someone close to us grieving the loss of someone they loved, it can be difficult to comfort them when you know only time can heal their pain.

However, providing comfort can go a long way when done in the right manner. So here is what you can say to someone who has lost a loved one.

What to Say to Someone Who Lost a Loved One — 10 Ways

It is important to understand that if your loved one has lost a loved one, they won’t feel better instantly. So do not have any expectations that if you try to console them, they will suddenly feel better. That wouldn’t happen; they are going through a hard time, so spending time with them and just being there for them can say a lot of things.

Here are 10 things to say to someone who has lost a loved one:

1. Use non-verbal cues

When someone loses their loved one, often physical affection holds a lot more power than words. So if you see your loved one grieving or mourning, simply hugging them or sitting by them can help them feel slightly better.

2. Offer comfort

Offering comfort has different faces. If you know someone who doesn’t wish to be hugged or wants to handle their grieving process alone, you can provide them comfort through your words by simply saying, “Hey, if you want to talk, I am here for you.” or “You don’t have to go through it alone.”

offer comfort

3. Be there for them

If you wish to comfort your loved one, you can simply be there for them in your presence by doing menial tasks for them or entertaining people for them so that they do not feel burdened.

4. Go down memory lane

If you see your loved one crying over the memories they shared with the bereaved, you can reminisce about those memories with them rather than tell them not to cry. Everyone has their own way of coping, and if your friend chooses to heal this way, help them. If you have any memories with that person, share them out loud so they also feel better.

go down memory lane

5. Empathize with them

When you see your friend struggling in the grieving process, do not try to fix them; just try to empathize with them. Empathizing can have different meanings; herein, you can empathize with them by showing them love through non-verbal cues, nodding when they’re sharing their feelings, and offering words to comfort someone who lost a loved one.

6. Express your condolences

Acknowledge the other person’s loss by expressing your condolences. This can be done by saying, “I am so sorry for your loss; I am here for you.” or if you are close to the person, you can simply hug them to let them know you are there for them.

Express your condolences

7. Be a good listener

When you know your friend is grieving and they wish to talk to someone, you can be a good listener and listen to them vent without any judgment. A lot of people are angry while grieving so rather than asking them why they are acting like that, just be there for them without any criticism.

8. Tell them you are available

Grieving can be a lonely process, so to help them out, tell them you are available for them whenever they wish to talk. Even if they do not take your offer, they know they have someone they can reach out to.

Tell them you are available

9. Give them time

It will take them time to comprehend the situation, so give them time and space to do so. Don’t expect them to feel better just because they are surrounded by their loved ones. Respect their grieving process and give them time to accept the situation as it is.

10. Accompany them in a support group

You can also accompany your friend to a support group where they can meet people who have been through a similar situation and who will be able to help them navigate through their feelings in a much healthier way.

Accompany them in a support group

What Not to Say to Someone Who Lost a Loved One

While there are things that you can do to help the other person, there are also some things you shouldn’t do when someone is grieving. It is important to be conscious of it, so here are some things you should avoid when someone is mourning the loss of a loved one:

1. Avoid using cliche dialogues

Do not use the cliche dialogue that everyone uses when someone is grieving, like “You’ll get over it”, or “Time will heal this pain”. The person grieving doesn’t want to hear this, as they are not in the right mindset. So it's better to just be there without saying anything to someone who has lost a loved one.

2. Do not bring your religious beliefs

When someone is grieving, do not bring your religious beliefs into it, as you never know what kind of belief system they carry. So refrain from saying things like, “It must be God’s plan.”, or “You cannot avoid what is meant to happen.” This can easily trigger the individual and make them feel worse than before.

3. Do not push them

Let the person take their own time to grieve and accept the situation as it is. Do not push them to feel better or unnecessarily find ways to fix them. Everyone has their own coping mechanism so let them handle this situation at their own pace.

4. Do not compare your loss with theirs

Even if you have been through a loss of your own, do not share or compare your loss with theirs, as that can easily set them off and make them feel worse about the situation.

5. Don’t have any expectations on when they will feel better

Everyone has their own way of coping with the bereavement of someone close to them, so do not put a deadline or any kind of expectation on when they will feel better about this. Some take months, while others take years; there is no right or wrong way to grieve for someone you lost.

What not to say to someone who lost a loved one

How to Help Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One

When someone loses their loved one, it can be hard to see someone crying or mourning, especially if that person is someone you deeply care about. However, just being there for them, helping them in such times, and comforting them is the only way to help them.

Grieving is a very personal thing, so you do not know how much time the other person might take to get out of it, so instead of putting a deadline on it, supporting them and being there for them is the best way to comfort them.

How to help someone who has lost a loved one

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When you are not able to understand what to say to someone who lost someone, sign up on Now&Me and seek professional guidance from our experts. Be a part of a non-judgmental, inclusive, and friendly community where our experts help you understand whatever is troubling you.

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