The loss of a loved one is a devastating blow, and it can change the course of a person’s life.
Whether you are writing a sympathy card for a teenager or for someone who has lost their husband, it is important not to get lost in generic sayings about grief.
Instead, make sure your words are carefully chosen to honor the memory of the person who has passed away and be sensitive to the difficult emotions that that their death will give rise to.
Different people cope with grief in different ways, which is makes it incredibly important that you consider the specific circumstances of the person you are reaching out to when you write a condolence letter.
That said, there is no wrong way to show your support for someone if you are being genuine and sincere in your sympathy message.
If you are struggling to figure out what to say, here is a comprehensive list of what to say to someone who is mourning a loved one.
12 tips for what to say to someone who has lost a loved
- Say you are sorry for their loss
- Acknowledge the pain they must be feeling
- Tell them you are there for them if they want to talk
- Let them know you are happy to help with anything they need
- Describe their loved one in a generous and complimentary way
- Reminisce on good times you shared with their loved one
- Tell them their loved one was proud of them
- Say their loved one will not be forgotten
- Tell the person you are writing to that they are in your thoughts
- If they are religious, acknowledge their faith
- Share a moving quote about loss
- End by wishing that the deceased rest in peace
The loss of a family member, close friend, or partner is never easy.
Whether someone passed away after a long period of illness, was the result of old age, or was a tragic accident, their death is always going to be extremely difficult for their loved ones to face.
As the friend or acquaintance of someone who has recently lost someone they love, knowing what to say to them in the aftermath can be hard.
While it is important to choose your words carefully—and the tips listed above can help with this—it is even more important that you show up for them, in whatever way you know how to.
Being present during the difficult periods of a person’s life and showing them that they can lean on you if they need to will go a long way towards helping them cope with the grief that accompanies loss.
10 things to say to someone who has lost a loved one in a card
- I am so sorry for your loss. May your dear mother rest in peace.
- I was so sad to hear about your father’s passing. Know that whatever you are feeling right now is completely understandable. If you ever want to talk, I’m here for you.
- I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.
- There are no words to describe how sorry I am for the loss you’ve suffered. Just know that I am here and that I care about you deeply.
- Your sister was a wonderful woman who lit up every room she entered. She will be dearly missed by all who knew her.
- I love you so much and I am so sorry that you are suffering right now. If there is anything at all I can do, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
- You are not alone. You are surrounded by people who love and support you, and who want to help you face this grief in any way they can. If there is anything I can do, please don’t hesitate to call me.
- I am devastated about your brother’s passing. He was a brilliant and witty man who made an impression on everyone he met. He will not be forgotten.
- May the memories of your grandmother’s kindness and good humor offer you some solace during this period of mourning. I loved her like family, and I will be by your side as you process her passing.
- I wish I could take this pain away from you and I am so sorry that you are having to endure this loss.
If someone in your life has recently lost one of the people they hold dearest, it is nice to show your support by writing a card and sending them flowers.
That said, it is hard to write someone a card when the pain they are feeling is too deep to be eased by even the most well-chosen words.
If you aren’t sure what to write to the person in your life who is mourning a loved one, you can draw inspiration from these sample inscriptions.
1. I am so sorry for your loss. May your dear mother rest in peace.
This is a straightforward message to send an acquaintance or work colleague who is grieving the loss of someone you didn’t know well. This message doesn’t assume too much familiarity, but it still shows care and acknowledges the difficult time the person you are writing to is going through.
Writing a sympathy card for the loss of a mother is hard. If you aren’t that close to the person you’re reaching out to, it is better to keep your message short and sweet.
2. I was so sad to hear about your father’s passing. Know that whatever you are feeling right now is completely understandable. If you ever want to talk, I’m here for you.
Writing a sympathy letter for the loss of a father is never easy. Fathers play an incredibly important role in our lives and losing a parent can be existentially challenging.
The best thing you can write in a card if someone has lost their father is that you are there for them if they ever want to talk.
This message is particularly appropriate if you are writing a sympathy card for a teenager, who may be sincerely struggling to cope with their emotions after the loss of a loved one.
3. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.
Telling someone who is coping with the loss of a husband or other close relative that you will keep them in your thoughts and prayers is a beautiful way to let them know that they are not alone.
4. There are no words to describe how sorry I am for the loss you’ve suffered. Just know that I am here and that I care about you deeply.
Loss can make people feel isolated.
Humans are social animals and isolation is one of the worst things we can experience.
Telling someone they are deeply cared for will make them feel like they don’t have to cope with their pain alone.
5. Your sister was a wonderful woman who lit up every room she entered. She will be dearly missed by all who knew her.
If you knew the person who has passed away, say something kind about them when you write a sympathy card to the person grieving them.
When someone is experiencing grief, it is comforting for them to hear that other people also valued their loved one and saw their wonderful qualities.
If you are writing a sympathy card for a distant relative about a family member you both knew well, sharing a happy memory is a great option.
6.I love you so much and I am so sorry that you are suffering right now. If there is anything at all I can do, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
The main message of any condolence letter should be that you are there for the person you are writing to if they need support.
A card is a physical manifestation of your care and a way to show that you are available to help them through their grief. This message conveys that perfectly.
7. You are not alone. You are surrounded by people who love and support you, and who want to help you face this grief in any way they can. If there is anything I can do, please don’t hesitate to call me.
If you are writing a sympathy letter for a friend, stress that they are not alone and that you will help them in any way you can.
When a friend is struggling, show them that they have your unconditional support by offering to be available to them should they ever want to call.
8. I am devastated about your brother’s passing. He was a brilliant and witty man who made an impression on everyone he met. He will not be forgotten.
Losing a sibling means losing a loved one who shared your formative past. Whatever a person’s early family life was like, their siblings will be the only other people who truly understand the context they were raised in.
In addition to being extremely difficult because of the loss itself, a sibling’s passing can be especially difficult to come to terms with because it might raise unresolved childhood problems.
Try to focus on positive memories when writing a sympathy card for the loss of a sibling.
9. May the memories of your grandmother’s kindness and good humor offer you some solace during this period of mourning. I loved her like family, and I will be by your side as you process her passing.
Above all, a sympathy letter should make the person in mourning feel better.
There is no point in writing to someone to remind them about all the things that are making them feel devastated.
Instead, do your best to subtly lift their mood by reminding them of the wonderful qualities that the person who passed away had. This inscription does just that.
10. I wish I could take this pain away from you and I am so sorry that you are having to endure this loss.
When someone loses a loved one, we often feel an urge to tell them that we are sorry for their loss. But what exactly do we mean when we say this?
Well, first and foremost we’re communicating that we are sorry that they are in pain.
Writing in a sympathy card that you wish you could take someone’s pain away is a compassionate act that shows how deeply and genuinely you are thinking about their loss.
What to say to someone who has lost a loved one — Quotes
If you cannot find the right words to express your sympathy to someone in mourning, you can always quote another person’s wisdom about love and loss instead.
Almost all the great writers and poets have confronted the difficult subject of death in their work. This has left us with a wealth of beautiful lines about grief.
Instead of sitting with your writer’s block for hours, simply choose one of these profound quotes about love and loss and inscribe it in a card.
A well-chosen quote might help the person you’re writing to process what has happened and can be a mantra they hold on to when their feelings threaten to overwhelm them.
- “Say not in grief that they are gone, but give thanks that they were yours.” – Hebrew proverb
- “The aim is not to forget, but to remember to go on.” – Ancient proverb
- “Only a moment you stayed, but what an imprint your footprints have left on our hearts.” – Dorothy Ferguson
- “Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.” – Haruki Murakami
- “Death is no more than passing from one room into another.” – Helen Keller
- “The dead can survive as part of the lives of those that still live.” – Kenzaburo Oe
- “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” – J.K. Rowling
- “Death ends a life, not a relationship.” – Mitch Albom
- “When he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.” – William Shakespeare
- “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” – Thomas Campbell
- “Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
- “For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.” – Khalil Gibran
- “The heaviness of loss in her heart hadn’t eased, but there was room there for humor, too.” – Nalo Hopkinson
- “Fear not death, for the sooner we die, the longer we shall be immortal.” – Benjamin Franklin
- “There is love in holding and there is love in letting go.” – Elizabeth Berg
- “A great soul never dies. It brings us together again and again.” – Maya Angelou
The best things to say to someone who lost a loved one a year ago
The one-year anniversary of a person’s death is a big day for their friends and family. It stands out on their calendars and will bring up all kinds of emotions.
While people are usually flooded by messages of love and compassion immediately after a loved one dies, in a year’s time, most of those who sent commiserations will have forgotten the date of that person’s passing.
Remembering the one-year anniversary of a person’s death and writing their loved ones a card, giving them a call, or sending them a text to reiterate your condolences will mean the world to them.
Here are a few things you could say to someone on the anniversary of a loved one’s passing.
- I am thinking of you and sending you love on the anniversary of your mother’s passing.
- Can I take you out for an Irish whiskey this afternoon to mark the one-year anniversary of Seamus’s passing? I know he would have loved to think of you sitting in Flannery’s drinking his favorite drink in his memory.
- I hope this year has been okay for you, and that the grief you have felt is not so overwhelming as it once was. I would love to catch up over coffee this weekend and give you a hug. Let me know if you would be free to get together.
- I can’t believe it has been a year since your sister passed away. I’ll never forget that day, and how in awe I felt of the love and care you demonstrated to her during her final days in hospital. If there’s anything I can do to make the anniversary of her death easier, please let me know.
- I have such fond memories of playing with you and your cousin as children, and I can hardly believe it has been a year since he died. I am sending you a big hug and will say a prayer for you tonight on the anniversary of his passing.
- Take time to honor your father’s death today. May the good memories you have of him bring you solace.
- I can’t believe it’s been a year today…wow. You’re in my thoughts and prayers on the anniversary of your husband’s death. I love you and am here for you anytime you need me.
- If you want a shoulder to lean on, a companion to drink with, someone to cozy up and laugh with, or all of the above, I’m here for you and thinking about you on the anniversary of your best friend’s death. Give me a call anytime.
Things to say to someone who lost a loved one to cancer
Cancer is a terrible disease that causes so much pain to so many families. The bravery required for a person facing a cancer diagnosis to handle it with grace and determination is indescribable.
If you want to console someone who’s loved one has ultimately lost their battle against cancer, choose your words with the compassion and sensitivity that the situation demands.
Anyone who has watched someone they love pass away will know how difficult it is to deal with the fluctuations between hope and despair that are part and parcel of coping with terminal cancer.
They will have seen their loved one receive many cards wishing a speedy recovery and just as many wishing good health. Having to open cards of sympathy at the end of their loved one’s journey will not be easy.
Here are a few suggestions for what to say to someone who has lost a loved one to cancer.
- You are so important to me, and I know how much you loved your uncle. I was so sorry to hear that he passed away to cancer. I am keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.
- Healing will take time after this difficult loss. You do not need to be doing anything more than you already are, and if there is anything I can do to help or any burden I can take off your shoulders, please let me know.
- I am so sorry for your loss. I know how close you were to your mother, how hard she battled her illness, and how difficult this must be for you. If I can do anything to support you, please let me know.
- Your brother fought cancer like the true soldier he was, and you should be so proud of him. He never gave in to his illness, just like he never gave in to any hardships in life. His battle against this awful disease was an inspiration to so many. May he rest in peace.
- Cancer is a devastating thing. Your sister fought it with all the determination and tenacity she brought to every aspect of her life. I cannot imagine how difficult this time is for you and I am so sorry for your loss. If you ever want to talk, I’m here for you.
- There are no words to describe how truly sorry I was to hear that you had lost your best friend to cancer. He was a generous and compassionate soul who had a smile and a kind word for everyone he met. I will always cherish the fond memories I have of spending time with you two. If you need anything at all, just say the word.
Appropriate things to say to someone who lost a loved one — Over text
If someone you know and care about has lost a loved one, send them a text as soon as you hear about what has happened.
Respond to the bad news by letting your friend or family member know they are in your thoughts.
You should still follow up your initial condolence message with a card and flowers if you are close to the person you’re writing to, but because it is nice to offer someone your help, support, and open ear right away, sending a text is important.
All your text really needs to do is let the person know that you are thinking of them, and that the door is open for them to reach out to you if they want any help dealing with grief and loss.
- I am so sorry for your loss. Know that you are not alone in your pain and that I am always just a text or phone call away 🙏
- There are no words. She was such a beautiful soul and will be so dearly missed. R.I.P.
- I was so sad to hear the news about your cousin. If I can do anything at all to help you during this difficult time, please let me know.
- Thinking about you and sending your family all my love as you mourn your grandmother’s passing. If you want to talk, I’m always here.
- I can’t express how sad and shocked I was to hear about your dad’s sudden passing. I’m here for you, day or night. Let me know if you want a hand with any organizational things or just want to talk ❤️
- Nothing I say will appropriately convey how sorry I am to hear that your mother passed away. She, you, and your whole family are in my thoughts. If I can do anything to make things even a little bit easier for you during this period of mourning, please (please) let me know 🤍
- Your wonderful brother’s death is a devastating blow to the whole community. He was such a fine boy, and he will be so dearly missed by so many. I am so sorry for the pain you must be in right now. Know that the whole soccer club has your back and that if you need anything at all, your coaches and teammates are here for you.
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