The Perfect Words for Somebody Who Has Lost a Loved One
Perfect Words for the Grieving
When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.
Last week, I lost my Mom. She went in for heart surgery and never recovered. I have lost many friends and relatives over the course of my life, but none has been harder than this loss.
Being a wordsmith, I have always struggled with finding just the right words of comfort for those left grieving. Especially for someone as close as a spouse, parent, child, or sibling. Now, in particular, that I am only a few days into this process of deep grief, I feel qualified to share my thoughts on the perfect words for the grieving.
A Few Qualifiers
First of all, this is solely my point of view. It is not a scientific study. Everybody processes things differently. Our past experiences shape how we see things today. Our spirituality also shapes the impact of condolence. The relationship to the person lost is another major factor. Knowing the person receiving your thoughts definitely helps.
The Perfect Words:
With the qualifiers noted, here are the perfect words: There are none! You see, there are no words that can bring back the loved one or even get rid of the pain. Grieving is a process that we must all go through. It can’t be wiped away with words.
More importantly, the words don’t matter as much as the thought behind them. I feel the love and support of every single person who has called, texted, emailed, mailed, and reached out to me. I can feel the love and support they have given me, yet I can’t remember the exact words they all said. This is the most important point!
Knowing that it is the thought that counts, here are some words to help convey these thoughts, but they must be delivered with a truly caring heart:
- I’m sorry.
- I am sorry for your loss
- I care about you and I am here if you need me.
- He/she will be dearly missed.
- He/she and you are in my thoughts and prayers.
- You are important to me. I am here to help.
- My condolences.
- I hope you find some peace today.
- Do you want to tell me about (the deceased’s name)?
In-person is usually the best, with a phone call a close second. Keep in mind that they may not want to speak with you as they are afraid of breaking down and crying in front of you. Go ahead and share your thoughts anyway as they can still feel your love. Text, email, and social media are also effective, but much less personal. In short, reach out and let them know you care.
A Few Things NOT to Say
While your words may be true, the timing is wrong. Here are a few examples of things Not to say.
- “You have a new angel in Heaven.”
- “God doesn’t really give you more than you can handle.”
- “It was his/her time.”
- “How are you feeling?”
- “Are you feeling better today?”
- “He/she is not in pain anymore.”
- “You can always have more children” (if the loss was a child).
- “He/She is no longer a burden” (if caring for a disabled or elderly person).
- “Tomorrow is a new day.”
- “Now you have time for yourself.”
These are conclusions that can only be reached by going through the grieving process and can seem hurtful if spoken too soon. Leave these conclusions for the person to figure out on their own.
Finally, make yourself available throughout the process. Loneliness is the worst part of losing somebody and close friends and relatives can help. Be there for them to talk to, or simply hold their hand and say nothing. They will feel your love.