What to Write in a Message to Someone Who Is Grieving a Loss

Losing a loved one is an incredibly difficult time. Knowing what to write to someone who is grieving can be challenging. While you can’t take away their pain, your words of comfort, empathy and support can make a meaningful difference during a tragic loss.

When crafting a message for someone grieving, be sensitive, avoid platitudes, acknowledge their pain, share a memory, offer help, express your sympathy and reassure them that their loved one will be remembered. Most importantly, let them know you care during this difficult transition in their life.

This guide provides tips and examples to help you write heartfelt, thoughtful messages to someone grieving that will be a true comfort during their time of need.

Should You Send a Message to the Grieving?

It’s natural to feel hesitant about reaching out after someone experiences a loss. You likely don’t want to intrude during their grief. But generally, sending a message to the bereaved shows you care and gives them needed comfort and support.

Consider the type of relationship you have to the griever and use your judgement. In most cases, close friends and family will want to hear from you. Even casual acquaintances, coworkers or neighbors can benefit from brief messages of sympathy.

Many grieving people report that one of the most hurtful parts of loss is feeling like others avoid mentioning their deceased loved one or ignore their pain. Receiving a simple message acknowledges their very real grief. It means a great deal that someone took the time to reach out, even just briefly.

If ever in doubt, always opt to send a short, thoughtful note. Skip any messages could come across as insensitive or intrusive. Keep reading for tips on crafting caring messages.

Also read: Best Garden Lights for Backyard Memorial Gardens

Sending Messages Early On Vs. Later

Timing your message thoughtfully matters when supporting the bereaved. In general, it’s ideal to reach out both immediately after the loss and then again later after things settle. Here are some tips on timing for supporting messages:

Immediately After The Loss

Reach out within the first 1-2 weeks after the death. Grievers report these early messages are very comforting.

  • Send a text, email, card to the survivor and/or their family. Short is fine.
  • Express sympathy and that you’re thinking of them. “You’re in my thoughts” or “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
  • Avoid asking how they are or going into details. Keep it simple.
  • Offer help like food delivery or childcare if appropriate.
  • Let them know you’re available to provide support if needed.

A Little Later – First Few Months

Follow up again weeks or months after the loss as grief continues.

  • Check in to see how they’re coping with everyday life now.
  • Ask if there is anything, they need – extend offers to help.
  • Share a happy memory or photo of the deceased if appropriate.
  • Simply say you’re thinking of them on a meaningful day like a birthday or holiday.

Special Dates and Remembrances

Send messages on key days throughout the first year like holidays, birthdays, the anniversary of the death, etc. Grievers need extra support on these difficult landmark days.

Don’t worry about bringing up sad subjects -they are already thinking about their loved one and wish others would too. These memorial messages mean a great deal.

Choosing How to Send Condolence Messages

You have various options for how to thoughtfully deliver messages to someone grieving a loss. Consider what will mean the most given your relationship and their needs.

Written Notes

Handwritten cards or letters may be more meaningful to some grievers, especially older relatives. A mailed note shows you took special care.

Tips for writing paper notes:

  • Send a sympathy card, thinking of you card, or blank note card. Include a handwritten personal message.
  • Use black or blue-black ink pen for a respectful tone. Avoid flashy colors.
  • Mail the card in a solid color envelope to the survivor’s home.
  • Include your full name at the bottom since grieving can be disorienting.
  • Add “in sympathy” or “with deepest condolences” on the envelope.
  • If possible, hand deliver your note to have an in-person moment.

Text Messages

For close family or friends, a text message may be appreciated, especially early on. Texts feel immediate.

Tips for texting someone who is grieving:

  • Keep messages brief. A few sentences are fine.
  • Let them know you’re available to talk if they’d like.
  • If no response, follow up once with phone call instead of another text.
  • Add the deceased’s name to your message if appropriate.
  • Send an emoji to convey care if suitable for your relationship, like heart or praying hands.

Emails

Emails work well for coworkers, acquaintances or large groups after a loss. They’re direct.

Pointers for emailing someone who is grieving:

  • Use the subject line to say you’re sorry for their loss or sending condolences.
  • Keep message brief but warm and sincere in tone.
  • Share a nice memory of the deceased in a paragraph if appropriate.
  • End by saying you’re available if they need anything.
  • Follow email etiquette like including your name at bottom.
  • Send separate, personalized emails if contacting a group.

Phone Calls

Phone calls allow you to have comforting dialogue and hear each other’s voices. They create intimacy.

Tips for calling someone who is grieving:

  • Ask if it’s an okay time to talk so you’re not intruding.
  • Let most of the conversation be led by them. Listen more than speak.
  • Share a warm memory of their loved one if organically fits into chat.
  • Keep any negativity or complaints out of the talk. Focus on emotional support.
  • End by reiterating you’re there and willing to help if needed.

Video Chats

For faraway loved ones, video chats can help you connect face-to-face. Use technology to show support.

How to thoughtfully video chat someone in grief:

  • Look directly at the camera to mimic eye contact for intimacy.
  • Pay attention to lighting and background to show respect.
  • Listen attentively and react by nodding, smiling, etc. Avoid looking at other screens.
  • Keep distractions like pets or noise to a minimum so you stay focused on them.
  • Let them see your facial expressions and tears if emotions come up.
  • Close by saying how much you love them and the deceased. Blow a kiss if appropriate.

What to Write in Messages of Sympathy

Knowing what words to actually write when someone is grieving their loved one can feel daunting. You want to provide comfort and solace without saying the wrong thing. Here are some tips:

Use the deceased’s name

Use their passed loved one’s first name when possible. This shows you haven’t forgotten them and that it’s safe for the griever to talk about them. Hearing their name is comforting.

Example: “Andrew sounded like such a wonderful person. His kindness lives on.”

Share a favorite memory

If appropriate for your relationship, share a specific happy memory or story about the deceased. This brings them to life again for the griever.

Example: “I’ll always remember Andrew’s hilarious jokes at our college parties. His laugh was contagious.”

Reminisce on good times

Reflecting on fun times together reminds grievers that their loved one was truly cherished and had a full life.

Example: “I’ll always fondly remember our family beach trips with Andrew and how he taught the kids to surf.”

Acknowledge their pain

Validating their extremely painful loss shows you recognize the depth of their grief and want to provide comfort.

Example: “I can’t imagine how painful losing Andrew must be. I wish I could give you a hug right now.”

Offer practical help

Offer tangible help like cooking meals, giving rides, handling chores, running errands etc. Make it specific with days and times you’re available.

Example: “Please let me know if I can drop off meals on Tuesday and Thursday this week while you have family in town.”

Convey availability

Assure them you’re just a phone call away if they need to talk, vent or ask anything at all. Follow through if they reach out.

Example: “I’m always available if you’d ever like to share memories of Andrew or just need a listening ear as you go through this.”

Share positive traits

Highlight the most beloved qualities of the deceased that live on through those who knew them.

Example: “Andrew’s kindness and generosity of spirit touched so many lives. He’ll remain in our hearts.”

Express how much they’ll be missed

Acknowledging the deeply felt void left by the deceased provides comfort that others understand their irreplaceable loss.

Example: “The world won’t be the same without Andrew. I’ll miss his cheerful laugh more than words can say.”

Remind them of support systems

Gently remind them of others who care and want to help them through this valley – friends, family, community.

Example: “I know your close friends and entire church community want to surround you with love right now.”

Offer to share funeral details

If it’s a friend suffering the loss, offer to notify mutual friends about funeral details, to spare them extra work.

Example: “Let me know if I can help notify our college friends about Andrew’s memorial service details.”

What Not to Say to the Grieving

When someone is immersed in grief, certain messages can hurt more than help even if well-intentioned. Avoid these common pitfalls:

  • Don’t say they “passed away” or “are in a better place.” This minimizes their painful loss. Use words like “died” or “death” instead.
  • Don’t focus on the positive. Comments like “at least they lived a long life” or “it was their time” dismiss their grief.
  • Don’t mention “closure.” Loss changes lives forever. Don’t imply grief resolves neatly.
  • Don’t bring up spiritual beliefs about an afterlife if unsure theirs align. Stick to fond memories of the deceased instead.
  • Don’t share stories of your own loss. While well-meaning, shifting focus causes further hurt. Keep it about their loved one specifically.
  • Don’t give unsolicited advice. Avoid saying what they “should” do now regarding the funeral, estate, possessions, etc. Follow their lead.
  • Don’t stop reaching out. Many grievers report that after the first week or two of support, people pulled away just as deep grieving began. Check in over the long-haul.

The most comfort comes from simply listening and validating their painful loss. Avoid causing extra hurt by saying the wrong things. Provide reassurance through your caring presence and support.

Sympathy Message Etiquette

Following proper etiquette when reaching out after a loss increases the comfort your condolence message provides. Be sure to:

  • Acknowledge the loss – clearly state your awareness of their loved one’s recent death. Use their name.
  • Share a warm opening – begin by saying “You are in my thoughts” or “I’m so sorry to hear…”
  • Offer help – provide tangible help like running errands, rides, meals, childcare. Be specific.
  • Include a positive memory or trait of the deceased when appropriate. Keep it focused on honoring lost loved one.
  • Reminisce – if very close, share a touching memory or heartwarming detail about the deceased.
  • Keep messages brief – avoid long rambling stories. Short, sincere notes have great impact.
  • Let them know they’re not alone – remind them you and others are there for whatever is needed.
  • Mention praying for them only if appropriate for your relationship and certain it aligns with their beliefs about prayer.
  • Send individual messages if you know others in the grieving circle like the spouse, siblings etc. Personalize each one.
  • Follow up – continue checking in as time passes after the loss. Grief comes in waves. Renew offers to help.
  • Hand sign cards and letters. Include your address or email info so they know who it’s from amid grief brain fog.

Simple, heartfelt sentiments following proper etiquette provide true solace to those mourning a death.

Sympathy Messages for Spouse Losing a Husband or Wife

Losing a spouse is an enormously painful life change requiring abundant comfort. Here are some thoughtful examples of what to write when their husband or wife dies:

Dear Susan, My heart aches for the unbearable loss of your beloved wife Amanda. Her warmth, courage and grace were a true inspiration. We pray each day will bring you increasing peace and sweet memories of her. I cherish our double dates and her incredible baking. Please let me know if I can provide meals, help with arrangements, or just listen as you grieve. You have my deepest sympathy now and always. Much love, Mark

To John, There are no words that can ease the enormous void left by Lisa’s passing. Know that we all adored her vivacious, vibrant spirit. I’ll never forget her wonderful laugh on our beach trips. Lean on friends and family right now to carry you through this valley of grief. Sending strength and keeping you in my prayers. We’re all here for you 24/7. With a heavy heart, Melanie

Dearest Susan, My arms ache to give you a long comforting hug. Steven’s kindness and dedication as a husband were extraordinary – he leaves irreplaceable footprints in this world. I’ll forever cherish the love you two shared. Please call anytime to talk, cry or even sit in silence. My shoulder is here whenever you need it. You’ll remain close in my heart as you mourn. Love always, Michelle

Spouses face excruciating grief at the loss of a life partner. Expressing understanding of the enormity of their loss provides solace. Offering a listening ear for comfort reminds them they don’t walk alone.

Sympathy Messages for the Loss of a Child

One of the most devastating losses is the death of a child. These are examples of what to write in this extraordinarily painful time:

Dearest Maria and Derek, My heart is utterly shattered over sweet baby Sophie’s passing. No words could possibly soothe such anguish. Our arms ache to hold you tight. Sophie’s precious soul filled the world with innocent wonder. We pray each day brings increasing peace and happy memories amid the grief. Our ears and hearts are always here for you. You’re in our constant thoughts. With deepest love, Uncle Mark and Aunt Michelle

My dear friends, I cannot comprehend the excruciating loss of your beautiful boy Ethan. My heart and prayers are with you constantly. Ethan brought pure joy to everyone fortunate to know his bright spirit. Please let me provide meals or help in any way as you walk this unimaginable path of grief. You are forever in my heart – may cherished memories with Ethan eventually bring a faint but welcome smile. With a truly heavy heart, Melissa

Maria and Derek, Words fail in the face of grief over a child’s passing. Sweet Sophie remains forever cradled in our hearts. Her luminous smile will always shine. Cry and remember with us – laughter brings life amidst the tears. Our arms are forever around you. You don’t walk alone. All our love surrounding you, Grandma and Grandpa

The loss of a beloved child defies words. Express empathy for their unimaginable pain. Offer your ear when they need to remember their precious child. Help with practical matters like meals. Your presence speaks loudest.

Sympathy Messages for Loss of a Parent

Losing a parent is tremendously hard at any age. These are condolence message examples for the death of someone’s mother or father:

Mark, I was so very sorry to hear of your father Tony’s death. He sounds like he was a truly exceptional man and father. Losing a parent leaves such an enormous hole in your heart. I still think of my own dad every day. Please share your favorite memories and funny stories of Tony often – keeping his spirit close is the best salve during this difficult time. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Anything you need, I’m just a phone call away. Fondly, Steven

Oh Michelle, My heart hurts over losing your sweet mom. Her kindness and smile truly radiated, making the world brighter. Moms have a special way of always making life better. Let your tears flow freely – I’m honored to listen and reminisce anytime. She clearly loved you beyond measure. When you’re ready, we would love to make a donation to the animal shelter she adored in her memory. Call anytime dear friend. Love, Melissa

To my dearest niece,
Losing your brave, strong father is devastating. Uncles have a way of always making their niece feel like a princess, and your dad certainly did that in spades. His wisdom and spirit will continue guiding your path daily. We’re keeping you and your mom wrapped in family love, stories and all his favorite salty foods. Just say the word if you need absolutely anything. Your pain is our pain. Never hesitate to share your grief with us. You are so loved.

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