4 min read

What To Say Beyond "I'm Sorry for your Loss" ?

How to support a grieving friend whilst avoiding the cliches

Woman providing emotional support to friend

Despite the fact that death affects us all, we’re rarely ever taught how to handle the delicate feelings surrounding someone who’s experiencing loss. On top of this, different relationships create a minefield of different responses which might be appropriate during these times.

With even a historically safe “Sorry for your loss” seeming a bit empty from overuse, it can feel impossible to find the right words to say to someone in grief. We’ve come up with a few alternatives which might provide some guidance to your next loss interaction:

  1. “What can I help you with right now?”

The pain of losing someone manifests itself both emotionally and physically. Asking your loved one if you can help them with any unmet needs and tasks that they might not have the emotional or physical bandwidth to handle might be exactly what they need. If you feel inclined and are in a position to, asking how you can help them financially may help ease an additional, often hard-to-discuss burden that arises when someone passes away. Whilst also making them feel supported in an unstable and potentially lonely time.

2. “I’m here for you if you want to talk.”

Sometimes all someone wants is to be heard. If you have the time and the energy to listen, then offering these to someone in need can either help them process their grief or take their mind off things. Not everyone wants to talk while they’re in grief, but if someone does, make the time and space for them to feel comfortable doing so. Don’t expect to take away their grief - it’s unlikely your loved one will expect this either - but having someone to sit with and discuss what’s on their mind can be a salvage during a difficult time.

3. Share a memory with them.

We all remember people in our own way and it’s human nature to want to know how someone you loved affected or touched other people. This is why it’s comforting to hear memories others have of someone you cared for and lost. For a grieving loved one, sharing a memory or two of the person they lost while you sit with them can show them that they’re not alone in their grief, that the person they lost touched many lives, and that their memory lives on in many different places.

4. Simply acknowledge their grief and give them time.

Sometimes all we want to do is take someone’s pain away and make everything better, but as anyone who’s ever been through anything difficult knows, sometimes you just want your feelings to be acknowledged and to perhaps be left alone. But by simply saying something like, “I’m so sorry it’s so hard for you right now,” or “Take as long as you need,” you can let them feel supported without placing any expectations on them to give more than they’re willing to at the moment.

5. Don’t say anything at all.

Sometimes, your presence is all that’s needed. It’s a very human desire to want to fill space with soothing words and reassurances, but sometimes what someone grieving needs the most is just someone to sit with them, in quiet acknowledgement of a very big loss. Your willingness to do so for a loved one in need will show them the depth of your support and can open up the door to conversation, if wanted, later on.

Safewill is here to help

We’re here to support you and your loved ones through this difficult time. We can help with planning a funeral, applying for probate, or getting started on writing your Will. For any questions you might have, our caring team is here to support you throughout the process.

Last updated 13th December 2022
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Hannah Comiskey
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