What to Say to Someone Who is Experiencing Loss
In the days immediately following a friend’s loss, many are worried they will say the wrong thing and appear insensitive or uncaring. It is understandably difficult to find the right words when something so heavy and painful is happening to someone we know. We hope that these phrases—and the ideas for support that come after—will help you as you help your friend.
“They were so lucky to have been loved by you.”
“I’m sorry” has its place, but a slight change in approach to emphasize your friend’s important role in the decedent’s life can be incredibly meaningful. Try to keep all of the focus on your friend and the goodness they gave to their lost Loved One.
“Can I bring you a meal?”
It may be hard for your friend to ask for help or even think about what needs to be done. That is why asking to do something specific for them can be incredibly helpful. Offer to do a chore or favor that your friend won’t have to manage or think of themselves like cooking them a comforting meal, taking their dogs for a walk, or helping their kids with homework.
“I’d love to hear some of your favorite memories from the time you two spent together, whenever you are ready to share.”
Give your friend the opportunity to speak about and remember the happy memories they had with their Loved One. Be mindful as they may not be ready to share yet. If that is the case, be understanding. When they do feel like opening up, actively listen. You can do this by asking heartfelt questions, reflecting with your friend, and withholding any judgement or advice.
“I’m here for you.”
These words can be spoken aloud and shown through actions. Some of the actions you can take include checking on your friend during the days following their loss, attending the visitation and funeral, or planning an evening together in the weeks following where you treat him or her to their favorite dessert. Being there reminds your friend that they are not alone and gives them a shoulder to lean on through this difficult time.
Not every person’s grief will look the same, so be patient with your friend as they begin to navigate theirs. Your support through every stage of their healing will help remind your friend that they are loved and that they are never alone.
Thank you for being there for your friend.