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One of the most challenging times we will ever go through in our lives are the days following the loss of a loved one. How close you were to the deceased, their age, unfinished business between you, and how the departure of life all came about can make their departure difficult to accept. No one wants to grasp the reality that their loved one will no longer be seen anymore.
The time from their departure from this life until the final arrangements have been made can come so fast. Your life is filled with so much activity and demands in the process that it leaves you with little to no time to process what has happened. That is until the memorial services are over, and you are dealing with the aftermath.
The time after a funeral can be compared to cleaning up after a natural disaster like a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake. You know that life will never be the same, but you try to pick up the pieces and make the best of things from now on.
Whether a person comprehends what it is like or not, we can never truly understand how anyone is processing the pain they are experiencing. Therefore, it is easier to tell someone sorry for your loss (sorry for the pain you are going through) than try to say something witty, profound, or spiritual to make them feel better.
However, we should always have a sense of gratitude for those who seek to comfort us during our time of loss.
Why these Words Can be So Hard to Hear
The words ‘sorry for your loss' may be hard to hear for many reasons. First, it makes the loss of a loved one seem so final. Many of us spend weeks in denial, as if we are waiting to wake up from a bad dream.
When someone says ‘sorry for your loss,' it means that a person we have loved and cared for dearly has been taken away and will not return. There will be no more smiles, no phone calls to check up on us, and no words of advice when we need guidance from them.
In addition, there will be no more holidays spent together laughing and baking together, sincere hugs and kisses, or fishing trips with them. A harsh reality and void are there, and you have no idea how it will be filled.
Who will you call when you have car trouble in the middle of the night? Who is going to be the glue to hold the family together now? These are just some realities that may flood your mind and make losing a loved one seem so final when someone says, ‘Sorry for your loss.'
Second, sorry for your loss may be hard to hear because everyone says it. After hearing it so much, it begins to feel impersonal. You get condolences of all kinds, from texts, phone calls, and sympathy cards in the mail. Then when your social media followers and friend hear about the loss of your loved one, you get floods of comments and private messages telling you the same thing.
It gets redundant and feels like a constant reminder of your pain. It’s like having your shoulder in a sling because of a traumatic incident, and everyone you see slaps you on the shoulder and tells you they hope you feel better soon. Hearing the same message repeatedly feels as if it slows down the healing process at times, rather than finding comfort in the condolences of others.
31 Things to Say When Someone Says Sorry for Your Loss
Things to say when someone says, ‘Sorry for your loss’ in person:
1. Say, “Thank You.”
When you don't know what to say when someone says sorry for your loss, say “Thank You!” It may be challenging to say anything after losing a loved one because you are still processing your feelings.
However, you are entitled to grace from others because you are grieving. Therefore, it is polite to simply say, ‘thank you.' You are being gracious, and people will understand why you have chosen to only express a few words.
2. Tell them that you understand how hard it must have been for them to say the right words.
Many people avoid being around others who are having a difficult time because they do not have adequate words to say to comfort a person.
So, if someone expresses to you in person that they are sorry for your loss, thank them and let them know that you understand that it is not the easiest thing for them to do… but let them know it meant a lot to you that they did it anyway.
3. “They really admired you.”
When others express their condolences, and they were someone your loved one admired, let that person know.
It may be something they need to hear at the moment, especially if your loved one was a person they greatly admired as well.
4. “I don’t know what I would do without your love and support.”
‘Sorry for your loss' may be hard to hear, but it would be far worse if no one expressed their love and support at all.
None of us want to feel like we are going through any hard times alone. Where would we be without the support of others? I don’t even want to know.
5. “I know you also cared a lot for them.”
Acknowledge the grief that others are feeling. One of the reasons our loved one was so great was that they lived a life that impacted many people throughout the years.
6. Say nothing, just give them a hug.
At times, words escape us. Especially when others are hurting over the loss as well. During those times, it may be best to say nothing and hug each other.
7. “I appreciate your thought and prayers during this difficult time.”
In our busy world, it is a blessing when others take the time to think of us when we go through a time of loss. But, it is even more beneficial when they take the extra time to pray for our family and us as we press our way through that rough patch of life.
Thoughts and prayers are priceless gems and one of the most incredible things anything can do for us in a time of suffering.
8. “Thank you for being here for us.”
People have been known to express their condolences for our sorrow and make themselves available for us during our time of loss. I experienced how others would stop by and offer to cook, clean the house, and hang out to spend time with my family during the loss.
Being there and offering their time helped us not feel alone in our struggle. I am forever grateful.
9. Let them know that “it has been difficult, but we are making it.”
Rather than putting on a brave face as if you are not feeling anything at all, be honest about how you feel. Let others know it has been difficult, but you know you will be alright with time.
10. “I am thankful to have you as a dear friend.”
When times are good, you have many friends. However, when times get hard, it may feel like your true friends are few and far between. So, if you have a friend who sticks by your side as you navigate this difficult time in your life, thank them and cherish them.
11. “Thank you for coming.”
It is one thing to send a text, sympathy card, or message on social media. But to be present far exceeds them all. They may not have the right words to say. Moreover, a person may look uncomfortable just being there. But, thank them for coming because they went above and beyond what most of us do.
Things to say when someone says, ‘Sorry for your loss’ through text message or phone call:
12. “Thank you for reaching out to me. It has been a rough week.”
It doesn't hurt to admit that your time of grief has been a rough time. It is hard for some people to reach out to others when they know they are suffering, so acknowledging your feelings lets them know that their text was not a bother to you but a help.
13. “Thanks. I know they are in a better place now.”
As you thank the person for reaching out through text to you. Letting them know that you believe that a person is in a better place means communicating to them that you are looking on the bright side of what happened, and it's bringing you comfort.
14. “Thank you for being there for me. I love you.”
It is not unusual to express your love and admiration to people who look out for your well-being during times of sorrow.
15. “Thank you, I will be in touch with you soon.”
This is an excellent response to a dear friend who always comforts you. Especially when that person serves as a safe place to share what is on your heart in difficult seasons of life. These people are a lifeline to you when you are hurting.
16. “I appreciate it. I will get back to you as soon as we make the final arrangements.”
When you have yet to make arrangements for the funeral services, you may want to send this response to let them know that you have some information to share with them.
That way, they know where to send sympathy cards or flowers to the family.
17. “You have truly been a blessing to me.”
There is no harm in letting others know you are touched by their text message. Some people are better at expressing themselves through written word or text than saying it to you in person.
Validate their effort and tell them precisely how their words have impacted you.
18. “You always reach out to me when I need it the most.”
We have all come across someone who has a deep connection with us. It can be so strong that they always seem to call or text at the exact moment when we need to hear from them the most. And what is ironic, they usually know just what to say to encourage us.
19. “I appreciate your kind words.”
Straightforward yet courteous and kind. You may not feel like saying a lot, so in this case, less is more.
20. “Thank you for reaching out to me. I've enjoyed our conversations.”
When someone calls you to express condolences, you can't simply say thank you and then hang up. Many people feel they need to call rather than text or message some other way because they want to hear the tone of your voice and know you are ok. In addition, many people can express themselves better through phone conversation.
Furthermore, the caller may be a distant friend or family member who doesn’t live close enough to come to the memorial services.
You can keep the conversation short but take the time to ask them about sharing a memory about your loved one. You may also want to share a story about your loved one that involves them. Either way, you want to show gratitude to them and possibly share a much-needed laugh.
Things to say when someone says, ‘Sorry for your loss’ through a sympathy card:
21. “Me and my family appreciate you for the kind words you expressed.”
When others take the time to send you a heartfelt card of sympathy, it is fitting to send them a handwritten thank you card to express your gratitude.
Tell them you are grateful for having a solid support system during these difficult circumstances.
Things to say when someone says, ‘Sorry for your loss’ through social media.
22. “I know you understand what I am going through.”
Social media is where people share many of their life circumstances. So, the people reacting to your loss could be the ones you reached out to when they lost loved ones in the past.
Knowing what you are going through can be more comforting than condolence from those who may not understand your pain level.
23. “Thank you for taking the time to send me this kind message. I will reference it more and more in the days to come.”
Some messages are so well written and sweet that they show the heart of the person who wrote them. So let them know that you will reference their message when sadness hits you the most and you need a reminder to stay strong.
24. “It is comforting to know that there are people online that I can turn to in difficult moments.”
In life, we never know who we can turn to. So be grateful that many people have said ‘sorry for your loss' or ‘if you need anything, I am here for you.' In that case, this response will work best.
25. “I appreciate your condolences. There is a scripture I have turned to that has brought me great comfort.”
If you are a person of faith, it doesn't hurt to share with others that you appreciate their kind words and assure them that your faith in God is helping you navigate through the pain. Furthermore, share a scripture of hope that has helped you and given you peace.
For instance, Revelations 21:3-4 which says, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
26. “Thanks. It is comforting to know that my loved one is finally in peace now.”
After thanking your friend for their kind social media message, let them know that you don't view your loss as an utterly heartbreaking experience. Because deep down, you know that your loved one is no longer having to deal with the chaos and stress the world has to offer.
27. “Thank you for always being here for me; you are a true friend.”
In a time where social media reigns supreme and ‘friends' is a term that has lost its potency, we can find tons of love and support from people online who really and sincerely care for us.
Over time, even if many of you have never met, you have developed a powerful emotional bond.
28. Send Heart emojis.
When you don't know what to say, and your heart is overwhelmed. Don't ignore the message; send a few heart emojis.
It is a simple expression of gratitude. The sender will know that you got their message and positively impacted you.
29. “Thank you. Their memories will always be with us.”
As your social media followers and friends reach out, let them know that you are finding comfort in their messages and the memories you have with your loved one.
In addition, it gives them an idea of how you hold your loved one in high regard.
30. “Thank you. I am at a loss for words.”
It doesn’t hurt to let a person know that you appreciate their sentiments but don’t know how to express gratitude the proper way at the moment. Especially since everything may seem so surreal.
31. “Your kind words have brightened my day.”
Every kind word sent to you in a comment or private message came from someone who knows you are hurting and wants to ease the pain a little. So let the sender know that their mission was successful.
Final Thoughts on 31 Things to Say When Someone Says Sorry for Your Loss
Whatever way someone chooses to reach out to you during your grief, be grateful that someone sought to comfort you.
I know first hand what it’s like to feel as if everyone is saying the same thing, and hearing it one more time will make you explode… however, the worst thing you can do when you are hurting emotionally is shut yourself off and suffer through the loss of your loved one alone.
Contrary to how we may feel at the moment, there are people who not only understand our losses; but, hurt when we hurt and sincerely desire to bring comfort when we need it the most. Studies show it can be mutually beneficial.
So embrace the visits, cherish the texts and phone calls and save the social media messages and sympathy cards for as long as you need them. As you show gratitude and reflect on the series of events during your healing time, these things will have a powerful effect on you.