What to say to those who are grieving

Simple, sincere condolences can mean everything to someone grieving a loss


By Kathy Penner

Many of us don’t always know what to say to someone who is grieving. We may even avoid someone experiencing a loss because we’re worried about saying something wrong. However, even an imperfect expression of caring is appreciated, while not acknowledging someone’s loss can be hurtful.

The good news is, there are simple phrases you can use to help someone as they grieve.

  • “I’m sorry for your loss” is simple and sincere
  • “I heard that your father died” shows you’re prepared to talk openly about death
  • “I’m not sure what to say, but I care” is honest and still conveys sympathy
  • Following up with “Do you feel like talking?” or “How are you doing?” lets the griever know you’re ready to listen—and that’s what they need, far more than a Hallmark-worthy expression of sympathy.