What To Say When Someone Dies


What To Say When Someone Dies

Everybody experiences loss — be it of an acquaintance, a colleague, a friend’s friend or someone really close to your heart. In one way or the other, there would have been times when you wanted to somehow console a person who is in pain but you just ran out of words. A death leaves a void that cannot be filled with words; however, the pain can be lessened by the soothing words of people who care for the bereaved. One mustn’t avoid such a situation for this is the time people need maximum support. An expected death can at least make you prepared to face it but it is an unexpected one that makes you wonder for words. At such times, it is not necessary for you to use heavy words or famous quotes and phrases. Your simple words, prayers, care and support means a lot at such times. Consoling can be quite challenging, especially if you are also grieving, but it isn’t impossible. It is alright for you to stay quiet when you fall short of words; you being there is quite a strength for the aggrieved. However, when required to say something, you can take a hint from the following section.

How To Console A Death

    • Losing a loved one is never easy and in this difficult time, soothing words of people around can comfort the person who has lost his/her loved one. The immediate line which strikes your mind, and is also appropriate, when you hear the news of a death is ‘I am sorry for your loss.’ It is a simple sentence which is said by a person promptly after the news of the death when they do not know what else can be said.
    • Expressing your support and help at the time of grief can make the bereaved feel that you genuinely care for them. Do not offer them your help in the heat of the moment and then not turn up when they are in need of it. Say lines like ‘what can I do for you’ or ‘if want any help, I am always there’ only when you mean it. Such lines make the burden of loss seem lighter.
    • If the death was unexpected then you could say, ‘I am so sorry, I just can’t believe what has happened’ or ‘I am shocked to hear this’. However, do not keep saying this over and over again. If the death is shocking to you, it must be devastating for the family, so don’t keep reiterating your shock.
    • It is best to let the bereaved cry. Tell them that it is ok to shed tears and that you are there for them. Crying eases the pain in the heart and makes it easier for people to accept their loss. It is not good for people to keep their sorrow hidden and sit like a stone; just comfort them and give them an opportunity to express their feelings. It will make them feel better.
    • Say ‘I know it is difficult to handle the pain that you are going through’. Every death loss is unique and saying this shows your respect towards the aggrieved. The statement, for this simple reason, holds a lot of value.
    • Share some nice memories about the deceased with the family. Say things like ‘he was a great friend and an even greater human being’. You can refer to the deceased in your conversations; avoiding names never helped anybody console people better.
    • Ask the family about the death. If they are not ready to share their views or are not in a state to talk, then do not force them to. Say something like, ‘Talk to me when you feel like’. That will surely make them feel better and they are likely to come back to you to talk. Lend them your ears at the time they approach.
    • There can be times when you certainly do not understand what you should say. At such times, words are not always important. Give the bereaved your support with non-verbal gestures too. Give them your shoulder to lean on, hug them or put your arms on their shoulder. It is a way of showing your care and says a lot more than what words can express.

What Not To Say When Someone Dies

    • There are people who think that by sharing their own experience of loss with the mourner, they can make them feel better. This certainly does not work. Do not go about telling your tales; it is their time to speak. They would want someone beside who would listen to them and understand their sorrow.
    • Do not say ‘I know what you are feeling now’. You absolutely cannot feel what they are going through. Death is common but the deceased will be valued differently by every individual. It is an insensitive sentence to be used.
    • Do not use phrases like ‘Time will make you feel better’ or ‘forget and move on in life’. The mourners are not asking for any of your advice. Say something which can help them feel better presently.
    • Do not say ‘It was his fate’ or ‘maybe this was God’s will’ or ‘it was his time to go’. Such statements do not console anyone in any way.
    • Do not run away from situations or over-sympathize. Have a comfortable conversation with the person in sorrow.
    • Do not say ‘stay positive’ or ‘think whatever happens is for good’. It is a death; they are always pretty painful.

Expressing sympathy is not the only way to handle the griever. They need your help and care to get over the loss and that can be done non-verbally also. Sharing the pain of loss can heal the wound and help the aggrieved overcome their grief. It is not important if your vocabulary or your speech isn’t that good, what matters is that your sentiments are genuine and you words are soothing.