What To Say When Someone Dies — And 7 Things Not To Say

What To Say When Someone Dies? Best And Worst Things

Death is hard. Finding the right words to say when someone’s hurting can be even harder. Wondering what to say when someone dies? Below are some do’s and don’ts for you to note down!

I’m sorry for your loss” is a classic line, but it might not always hit the mark. Sometimes, it can feel like a generic response rather than genuine comfort. There are many other comforting words to say when someone dies. Let’s break it down below.

Related: How To Overcome The Fear Of Losing Someone You Love: 10 Tips

What To Say When Someone Dies: Simple and Compassionate Guidance

When you’re at a loss for words, the most important thing you can do is simply show up. Here are some simple but comforting words to say when someone dies:

1. Be Authentic, Not Boring

Wondering what to do when someone dies? When you give your condolences, get creative, don’t be basic. To show that you actually care, tell them a nice memory or a special trait of the person who passed away.

Say this:

I don’t know if there’s anything I can do or say to help, but I wanted to let you know that I’m here for you.

2. Break the Ice with a Memory

Funerals are always tough because people start thinking about how little they knew about someone’s life. Ask the grieving person what their favorite memory of their loved one is. It gives them time to think back on happier times.

Say this:

I can’t even begin to imagine how you’re feeling right now. But please know this: their kindness touched every single one of us.

3. Listen More Than You Talk

Still wondering what to do when someone dies? Listening is more powerful than talking sometimes. Unless asked, avoid sharing your own stories of loss.

Everyone’s grief is unique so let them lead the conversation and offer an open ear and a shoulder to cry on.

Say this:

I’m so sorry for your loss. I admired them so much and will miss them dearly.

4. Offer Practical Assistance

During mourning, it’s hard for some people to focus on practical things like funeral arrangements or other tasks that need to be done in order for things to run smoothly while moving forward from such a tragic event. Help out by offering specific assistance and take some work off their hands without overwhelming them.

Say this:

Their smile was infectious and I’ll never forget it. Every time I think of it, it makes me want to laugh too.

5. Be Sensitive and Respectful

Clichés usually aren’t helpful in these situations so try not to use any of those when speaking about the deceased..

Also, avoid saying anything speculative about where they may have gone after this life as you may accidentally disrespect their beliefs.. Instead, focus on positive aspects of their earthly life.

Say this:

I wish there was something more I could do or say to take away the pain, but just remember that we love you and support you through all of this.

6. Actions Speak Louder Than Words

One of the beautiful things to say when someone dies is not words but sometimes actions speak louder than words so honor the departed by doing something meaningful for others in their name.

For example, plant trees, dedicate books, make charitable donations, or just contribute to any cause that does good in general. These actions will ensure their name lives on.

Say this:

They loved us all so unconditionally – Let’s make sure we celebrate their life in the same way they celebrated ours.

7. Maintain Support Beyond the Funeral

After all the initial condolences through calls, sympathy cards, etc., don’t forget to stay in touch with this person. A simple phone call, text, or in-person visit goes a long way. It also lets them know that you value the relationship and will be there for them in the long run.

Say this:

Please remember that I’m always here for whatever you need.

What To Say When Someone Dies: Simple and Compassionate Guidance

Remember – It’s not about what we say as much as it is about being there with them.

These are some of the beautiful things to say when someone dies, but there are several things you shouldn’t say or do. Let’s take a look at what they are.

Related: The Five Stages Of Grief: Exploring The Kübler-Ross Model

What To Do When Someone Dies? Avoid These Things!

1. Regurgitate cliches:

Instead of saying, “They’re in a better place,” go for the raw and authentic. Cliches might seem insincere.

Don’t say:

“I know how you feel”

2. Avoid comparisons:

Nobody wants to hear about your loss when they’re going through their own. Each grief is individual and comparing never does good.

Don’t say:

“I know how you feel; my pet died last year.”

3. Don’t push silver linings:

Phrases like, “At least they’re not suffering anymore” might be intended to make them feel better.. but it doesn’t. Acknowledging pain is always better than trying to find the bright side.

Don’t say things like:

“At least he/she lived a long life”
“Everything happens for a reason”

4. Keep advice to yourself (seriously):

Some grieving individuals simply aren’t ready for your sound wisdom on coping with loss. Just let them know that you’re there for them if they ever do want guidance or support. It’s important to give them time and space after a traumatic event like this!

Avoid saying things like:

  • “It was for the best”
  • “He/she is in a better place”
  • Time heals all wounds.

Make sure to use the list of beautiful things to say when someone dies instead of insensitive phrases.


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