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What to Say When Someone Dies

What to Say When Someone Dies

Many a time we find it difficult to phrase right words for someone's condolence. We do not want to hurt the one who has lost his/her loved one with our words and hence, it is necessary that we know, what to say when someone dies.
Mayuri Kulkarni
Last Updated: May 19, 2018
Death is something which is harsh and leaves you speechless for a long time. When someone, who is very close to you, loses a loved one, you find it difficult to find words that can help you express your feelings. Even though conveying condolence is not easy, you cannot run away from it. Keeping mum or running away from the situation is not a solution, since you must acknowledge the fact of death. We often stumble upon the wrong phrases that can hurt the griever. Consoling for death is quite challenging, and here are some guidelines on things to say when someone dies.

What You Should Say

Losing a loved one and accepting the fact that he/she is no more with us is very difficult. At such times we require support of our family and friends, to help get over the grief. Many people fear from offering their sympathy and keep mum. One should never do that. Short and simple words can also help in conveying your feelings. "I am sorry for your loss", is a very simple sentence and expresses your sympathy in a sensitive way. To convey your support to the griever, you can use words like, "What can I do for you?" or "Is there anything that you need?" It is not necessary that you load the griever with your heavy emotional words. Many a time people just need someone who can listen to their grief. So, you can say, "If you need to talk, I'm always there".

Sudden loss of a loved one is very difficult to face and consoling for such unexpected or accidental death is also difficult, since you yourself cannot believe or accept the fact. At such times, you can use words like, "I am so sorry, I just cannot believe it" or you can say, "I just do not know what to say". Non-verbal gestures also convey lots of things and griever is assured that you are always there for him/her. So, if you are unable to say anything then, a warm hug, arms on shoulder, a tight handshake or a pat on back can help express your sympathy towards the griever.

What You Should Write on a Sympathy Card

When you cannot meet the person personally, you should send a sympathy card to offer your words of condolence. Though there are no specific rules for writing a sympathy card, there are few things you should keep in mind. See that you keep the sympathy card simple and use a bit informal language. Choose a handwritten card and never go for a printed one. You can mention some good qualities of the deceased one, and say that you will always remember him/her for those qualities.

What You Should Never Say

Many people do a big mistake by saying the sentence, "I can understand what you are going through". Though this sounds to be a consoling statement, it is actually an insensitive sentence. One can never ever understand what the griever is going through. Instead you can say, "I do not know what to say, since I cannot imagine what you are going through". One more wrong way of expressing sympathy is, "Time will heal all the wounds." It is a fact no doubt, but you should keep in mind that the griever needs your support and care at this moment. So, say something that will relate to griever's present feeling like, "I can understand that it is very difficult for you". Here are some more things that you should avoid ...
  • "At least his/her suffering is over"
  • "Things will be normal again soon"
  • "We all have to deal with loss"
  • "You shouldn't feel this way"

There is no specific framed answer to the question, what things to say when someone dies. But, one should take care that he/she does not use harsh statements. Do not use too much of philosophical statements and just express your feelings in short by using the exact words.