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Comforting Loved Ones in Grief: Finding the Right Words

Comforting Loved Ones in Grief: Finding the Right Words

If someone you love is grieving a loss, it can be difficult to know how to properly be there for them. You may be afraid of saying the wrong thing or unsure how to offer your support. If you’re looking for guidance on how to comfort someone who lost a loved one, these tips will help you find the right words.

Comforting Someone Who Lost a Loved One: How to Help Someone with Grief

While each bereaved person’s experience with grief is different, simply vocalizing that they are in your thoughts and you are there if they need you is the best way to help them feel recognized and supported through their grief.

Things to Say to Someone Grieving

  • “How are you feeling today?”
  • "I am so sorry for your loss."
  • "I love you."
  • "I don't know how you feel, but I am here to help in any way I can."
  • "My thoughts are with you during this difficult time."
  • “Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.”

Things not to say: While you may mean well, your grieving loved one may interpret some phrases as insensitive to their feelings. Refrain from telling them to try and “cheer up” or suggesting they do things a certain way following their loved one’s death. It’s also important to not put any sort of time limit on their grief or make comments like “Time will heal” or “Life goes on.” Your loved one is processing many complicated emotions, and these statements may feel dismissive of their experience.

Things to Do to Support a Grieving Friend or Loved One

Aside from offering condolences, you can support your grieving loved one in many other ways.

  • Help out however you can: Ask your loved one what you can do or offer whatever assistance you can. You may offer to bring them meals, run errands, provide a ride somewhere, help with chores, or help with any arrangements.
  • Listen to them: One of the best things you can do to comfort someone who lost a loved one is to be a listening ear. Let them talk about their many feelings and validate what they're going through. Even if you can’t personally empathize with their experience, simply allowing them to be heard without judgment is a great way to be supportive.
  • Avoid giving unsolicited advice: Try to resist suggesting what your loved one should or shouldn't do in the wake of their loved one’s passing. If you have gone through something similar, you may want to offer guidance on financial matters, funeral arrangements, or other things your friend or relative is experiencing. However, unless they ask you for your input, it’s best to give them the space to navigate these matters themselves when they are ready.
  • Share a memory: While it’s understandable that you might want to avoid bringing up painful memories, many people appreciate the opportunity to talk about the person they lost and worry that others have forgotten them. If you knew the person your loved one lost, reminiscing and sharing fond memories of them is a great way to show that they will always be remembered.

Supporting Yourself Through a Loved One’s Grief

When supporting someone who lost a loved one, you may neglect yourself and your own needs. To be strong for your loved one, it's important to make sure your own emotional needs are being met, too.

  • Make time and space for yourself: If you’re spending a lot of time tending to your loved one, you may start to feel burdened or stressed out about the extra responsibilities or even the emotional toll another person’s grief can take on you. Remember to take time for self-care so that you don’t become burnt out or overwhelmed.
  • Don’t be afraid to set boundaries: When people are grieving, they may act in ways that they normally wouldn’t. They may be moody, irrational, or needy, or expect more from you than you are able to give. While you certainly want to support them in any way that you can, it’s OK to establish boundaries if necessary or suggest outside resources that can help, such as counseling or grief support groups.

Grief Support at Christian Health

If you believe your loved one could benefit from grief support, Christian Health offers several resources for those who are coping with loss.

LiveWell Counseling: Our counseling center offers compassionate talk therapy, mental health assessments, medication management, and group therapy options for those struggling with many life-disrupting issues, including grief and loss. Our expert psychiatrists and counselors provide gentle, comforting care in a supportive, nonjudgmental environment to help those struggling to cope with their grief so that they can alleviate their sadness, function better at work and in their relationships, and begin to heal.

To learn more about how LiveWell can help your loved one, please visit or call (201) 848-5800.

Faith and Grief: This bereavement support group, organized by our Pastoral Care Department, holds luncheons on the third Wednesday of every month to provide opportunities for those mourning the loss of a loved one to gather together and be strengthened by sharing their experience, reflecting, praying, and discussing scripture.

To register, visit, and for more information, please call Christian Health Pastoral Care at (201) 848-5839.