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Don’t you just hate that awkward moment when someone shares they have lost someone and you really don’t know what to say? You feel their loss and pain, but the words to encourage or comfort them eludes you, and instead, some people say the worst thing, like:
“I’m so sorry, I’ll help you arrange the funeral.”
“They’re in a better place.”
“We don’t know God’s will, but (name) had served their purpose.”
Comforting someone who is grieving is something few of us can really do. Words of encouragement after a loss often end up seeming and sounding fake or insensitive or inappropriate.
Add to this that the person grieving is pretty raw and torn up over their grief, and you’ve got a reason why they may never talk to you again. So what do you say?
What Are Words of Encouragement?
Words of encouragement should offer understanding, empathy, comfort, and support. Often, it’s less about what words you use and more about timing and tone of voice. However, when you say the wrong thing—oh boy, it’s the wrong thing!
When you offer words of encouragement, you should share words to:
Most often, the person grieving has had enough of hearing that other people feel so bad for their loss, and they don’t know what to say in return. Yet, few people will sit with them and listen as they talk, and when you’re grieving, you want to talk, you need to talk.
Your words may be all jumbled up, but being there to help that person pour out their grief when they are ready is the best thing you can do.
Your condolences and words of encouragement should reassure the person grieving they are not alone. You’re there in whichever way they need you, and you respect the grief process they have to go through.
The benefits of hearing the right words of consolation and encouragement during a time of grief is that the person grieving will:
What Is Grief?
Grief is more than a feeling of sadness or overwhelming loss. When you grieve, you mourn the loss of someone you held dear. It’s like a tree that has been pruned of a large branch—the cut where the branch was removed becomes a wound site.
Over time, the wound weeps, the tissue around the wound withers and dries out, becoming scar tissue. And it takes several months if not years before the scar has healed enough for the tree to adjust to the branch no longer being there. Therefore, grief is a process, not an event or singular experience. It’s a journey toward coping with the loss and change.
As we know, the famous Kubler-Ross stages of grief stated that there are seven stages the person grieving has to move through. However, the stages of grief aren’t linear. Instead, it’s a cyclical journey where you may pass through anger and acceptance to suddenly hit denial again, even though that is the first stage of grief.
Grief is supposed to be a deeply personal journey, and the words of encouragement that people share with the griever are there to serve as reminders along the way that they also need to travel back on the path once their grief has eased.
Like lighting a candle in the window to guide a loved one home during a dark night, the words of encouragement you share are there to guide the grief-stricken home.
Different Kinds of Grief You May Be Feeling
Grief is different for each person, but there are different types of grief someone may experience when they suffer loss. According to psychology, there are 13 different types of grief, and each will require a slightly different approach to console the griever.
For the purposes of this article, I’ll focus on the nine main types of grief and what words of encouragement and consolement you can possibly offer someone who is grieving. Briefly, these nine types of grief are:
1. Abrupt Grief
When someone suddenly and unexpectedly loses something or someone they hold dear, they may experience abrupt grief. The griever will suffer from denial, anger, and sudden loss of motivation as they struggle to handle their grief.
2. Collective Grief
If the grief is shared by a group, such as a family who lost a loved one or colleagues who lost a team member. Symptoms are often deep sorrow and frustration.
3. Prolonged Grief
Losing someone and grieving with the same intensity as when the loss first occurred even months after the loss is a clear symptom of prolonged grief.
4. Delayed Grief
When someone gets over grief almost easily, but then reacts excessively when a minor loss occurs is typical of delayed grief.
5. Disenfranchised Grief
Usually, this kind of grief is experienced when a distant relative, pet, or someone from your past dies.
6. Anticipatory Grief
Those caring for their terminally ill family members or friends may experience this kind of grief most intensely. The anticipation of mortality triggers grief.
7. Secondary Loss Grief
Getting hit by more than one death or loss in a short space will cause secondary grief.
8. Complicated Grief
Complicated grief is when someone shows signs of more than one type of grief. Perhaps they grieve for a short time, then seem fine, but they also get triggered by the slightest loss and overreact badly.
9. Absent Grief
If someone seems not to grieve at all, pretends to be fine, and carries on as if nothing changed with the loss, it could be that they have absent grief, which can lead to severe depression and even mania if not treated.
65 Words of Encouragement After a Loss
While most of us aren’t psychologists, we can deduce what kind of grief someone may be suffering based on what loss they experienced and the way they are behaving, such as being in denial as a sign of absent grief.
So, here are a few words of condolences that may be appropriate for each grief type.
1. I’m sorry for your loss. Please let me know if I can help with anything.
2. You’re not alone, and I’m here if you need to talk.
3. I can’t even imagine the loss you’re feeling, but whatever you need, I’m here for you.
4. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
5. I don’t have words, but may I hug you instead?
6. If you need to talk, I’m up early/late and you can call any time.
7. May I sit with you for a while and help you carry the sadness?
8. I still recall (recount a positive story with the person who passed in). Wow, we’ll all miss him/her.
9. My deepest condolences; it’s such a loss. Are you guys managing? What do you need?
10. Thinking of you during this tough time. Nothing can fill the void of their passing, but you aren’t alone, and you have each other, and me too.
11. Love never breaks as long as you keep them in your heart. We/I cherish the time we had with (person’s name).
12. (Name)’s passing is such a tragedy. The world is much emptier without them, but you carry their love with you still.
13. What an amazing connection you all shared. It remains unbroken. Not even pain can break those bonds.
14. Letting go is so hard. If you feel like you’re falling, let me be part of your safety net.
15. Dealing with loss is never easy. What do you need to help you manage better? Can I help?
16. You have been doing so well lately, and while I know grieving isn’t easy, I’m proud of you. How can I help and support you more?
17. I know it’s confusing to be so sad still, but you have every right to grieve in a time that makes sense to you. In time, the pain will pass so you can release your grief.
18. Holidays and special dates are always so difficult when those we love have gone, but those we love never really leave us. It’s okay to be sad, but we can also celebrate their lives.
19. I know it feels like the sun won’t ever shine for you again, but the pain of this tragedy will pass. How can I help you to tread water and learn to swim through this?
20. This tragedy has torn you apart, and it’s clear you’re grieving, and you’ll continue to grieve until you’re ready to move forward. Please know I’m here for you, whatever you need.
21. Your loss has left the world a lot more dreary, and I know your own world is lonely since (name of person) was taken. Please remember to let your light shine whenever you can. I will pray for light and radiance for you.
22. It’s hardest when you feel like you were picking yourself up again, only to have your feet knocked out from under you once more. I see your pain; you’re not alone.
23. It’s awe-inspiring how well you have shouldered the burden of your pain. But you can put that burden down too. When you’re ready, please let me help you unburden your heart.
24. I’m sorry you have suffered this loss. (Name of person) will be deeply missed.
25. There is comfort in the memories we share of those we lost, but we didn’t lose them at all. Instead, we have gained a chance to add to their legacy.
26. It’s so hard to move past grief, especially when you’ve lost someone as special and unique as (name). Do you want to talk about it?
27. Moving forward is not easy when you’ve lost someone so great. I’d really appreciate it if you let me check in with you now and again. May I connect with you every other day?
28. May you find peace in the memories and hope in the future. (Name) loved you and wouldn’t want you to be alone with this grief. How can I help?
29. People don’t always understand how much a pet can touch our lives, but I’m so sorry for the loss of (pet name).
30. I know you and (name) weren’t really close, but it’s still a loss you feel, and I’m sorry you are mourning.
31. Your teacher was really a unique individual, and I’m sure you have many fond memories of them. Their passing is a great loss.
32. I see your grief, and if you want to talk, I’m here for you.
33. Your colleague was such an important part of the company. His passing is sad and he will be missed.
34. How are you doing? I know he’d been your (doctor, teacher, lawyer) for years, so I can understand your sorrow.
35. Life is always sacred, and the loss of your (career) is so sad.
36. Terminal illness is never easy to process, but know you aren’t alone.
37. What you’re going through must be really hard. How can I support you more?
38. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers as this disease runs its course.
39. May you treasure the time you have together, and I pray for an easy passing when their time is right.
40. (Name) had a long and meaningful life, and they influenced so many people.
41. Wishing you peace and strength during this difficult time of (name)’s passing.
42. What beautiful memories you and (name) shared. When you think of him, you’ll know joy.
Secondary Loss Grief
43. I don’t have words to tell you how sorry I am for your loss. I just can’t believe it’s happened again.
44. You’re so courageous. I don’t know how you continue to stand so strong. You inspire me.
45. I’m so sorry for your loss. I pray you and your family will be protected from more loss.
46. There’s just no rhyme or reason to loss, and I don’t know why it happened again to you, but know that I’m here for you always.
47. Don’t be shy; call me when you’re ready to talk. I’m still here for you.
48. Please don’t lose hope. It’s been a really tough time for you and your family, but you’re still here and standing strong.
49. We don’t always understand why our loved ones are taken, but please know you’re not alone.
50. Grief comes in waves, so please be kind to yourself when you go through a gully. You’ll see the sun again.
51. I’m sorry your grief has become raw again. Please let me know if you want to talk.
52. No amount of time can lessen grief, but in time, it’ll soften and not hurt so badly.
53. Please let me know if you have bad moments or days. I would really like to be here for you.
54. This sad event must remind you of your own loss. Your grief is legitimate, but you’ll learn to smile again.
55. Trauma is not easy to deal with, but you aren’t alone in your loss.
56. There is no rush to get through your grief, take as much time as you need. I’m here to help.
57. It’s okay to be sad, but I’m here if you want to talk.
58. There is nothing wrong with grieving; you can let it out.
59. There is no shame in feeling overwhelmed, and it’s okay to admit you aren’t okay.
60. I wouldn’t even know what to feel in your position, so take your time, and please don’t try to deal with it alone.
61. Take your time with this process, and be kind and gentle with yourself.
62. Don’t rush to get through the pain. This is time for healing, so do what you need to recover.
63. This loss is such a tragedy, and it was so sudden. It must still be a shock.
Words of Condolences When You Just Don’t Know
64. My heart is broken with yours; I’m so sorry for your loss.
65. There’s never any reason for loss, except that you understand the truth—you loved someone deeply and they loved you back. Hold on to that.
Final Thoughts on Words of Encouragement after a Loss
Losing the one you love is painful, and it’s something most of us will have to face one day. When it happens to someone else, it reminds us of how raw pain is, and we often lack the right words of encouragement to help soothe their pain. Yet, being encouraging is the only salve to help ease their loss.
With these words of condolence and encouragement, it’s possible to be tactful, thoughtful, and offer meaningful consolation to someone who mourns. Find out how to get over someone whom you loved with 20 ways to move forward. After all, break-ups are a form of grief as well.