Knowing what to say to a grieving friend is not easy. It feels like there are no words that can possibly be said. And in a way, that’s true. There really is not anything you could say or do to take away their pain. I think that is the point. If we are trying to make it all better or cheer them up, we are bound to say something insensitive.
Messages of Sympathy Should Not be Complicated or Elaborate
Some of the most hurtful sympathy statements come from trying to fix grief or find the “silver lining” in a tragedy. Complicated directions and solutions really don’t make grievers feel any better. Understanding the why or the how of the situation doesn’t help either.
These types of sympathy statements should be avoided:
- “She is in a better place now.”
- “At least he lived a full life.”
- “I guess it was just his time to go.”
- “God needed her more than we do.”
- “Time will heal all wounds.”
- “Everything is going to be alright.”
God, everything, time…these are all grandiose ideas. They might seem inspiring, but mourners are not necessarily looking to be cheered up. It’s not what they need in the moment.
Express Sympathy Better with Simple Sympathy
Messages of Sympathy Should be Sincere
It’s okay to not know what to say, it really is. It’s okay to not have the perfect words. It’s better to be genuine.
- “I can’t imagine your pain, we are wishing you comfort and peace.”
- “I don’t know what I can say. Our thoughts are with you.”
- “There are no words, but please know that we are thinking of you during this difficult time.”
Messages of Sympathy Should be Simple
Some of the most comforting words we can say are actually very basic, very plain and don’t appear to accomplish much. These are the messages that help grieving people.
- “I’m sorry.”
- “I’m sorry for you loss.”
- “Thinking of you with sympathy.”
- “Wishing you peace and comfort.”
- “Sharing in your sorrow.”
- “Remembering with you, the life of someone so dear.”