What To Say When Someone Dies

by Mary on April 15, 2010

We all dread the moment: “What on earth can I say?”

Sometimes we put off the evil hour –
‘I’ll call next week when she will be not so shocked’.
‘I’m bound to meet him at the shops next week so it can wait until then’
‘Perhaps a card or a letter will be less embarrassing.’

There are no perfect words to say – no ‘right’ way to express our own shock and grief whilst trying not to add to the shock and grief someone else is suffering.

Think about the following:

You could say’     “I am so sorry to hear about X”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“I won’t keep you talking, I just wanted to tell you that you are in my thoughts.”

“Tell me if I can help”

“I will pray for you and for X”

“I am here if you need me”

If you are writing keep it short. Remember to find something to say about the person who has died. (‘I will always remember his great sense of humour’ ‘I often think about the holiday we spent together two years ago’). The person left behind wants to know that you have affectionate memories, wants to think that their loved one made a mark, wants to hear and read about them.

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