What to say when someone dies - Condolence
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What To Say When Someone Dies- Condolence Messages

As the saying goes, words can either break you or make you. It holds so much weight, but only a few understand. In this case, using the right words to condole a grieving person gives comfort. Conveying heartfelt sympathy to someone who has lost their loved ones lets them know that you're thinking of them and they are not alone.

However, we often struggle to find words to express it. Not everyone is inherently gifted in expressing their feelings through words, and at times comes out wrong. Furthermore, there are ways to write sympathy messages based on different contexts.

If you’re new to this, this post can help. We have rounded up some thoughtful words or messages to convey a bereaved person. In addition, we'll guide you on how to write under different circumstances.

White Rose

Sending Heartfelt Sympathy Messages To Someone’s Death

Comforting a person that has lost someone dear to them is not easy. It may be your colleague, relative, or a close friend grieving due to the loss of their loved ones. You can be there for them, leave a message or send condolences email if you're out of town. If you're good with words, there is no need to worry about conveying your deepest sympathy even if you're not present physically.

That said, circumstances also play a crucial role in expressing yourself to a griever. Sympathy messages vary on the situation, like how close you're to the deceased person or your relation with its relative. It can be a colleague's spouse or a friend's parents. Understanding the situation before writing a sympathy note or message is always advisable. Doing this adds more warmth and empathy and helps you express yourself genuinely.

condolences picture frame

Writing a sympathy note or card is never easy. One has to put the right words to comfort a grieving soul. It may seem less significant to some but know that supportive words hold so much weight. So, it's essential to put the right quotes or words to express yourself diligently. Writing may be challenging, but you can always take some inspiration, as there are free resources online. You can take heartfelt and sympathy quotes, which you will find many online, and improvise them yourself.

Read below some of the condolences under different situations:

Writing Comforting Messages To A Grieving Friend

Here are some brief condolence letter that you can write to a friend or a person that you have a good relation with:

  • “I am so sorry for your loss. Upholding you and your family in our prayers”.
  •  “Apologies for not being with you personally in this hard time, but know that you’re not alone. I am here if you like to pour out.”
  • “I have heard about the loss of your dear one. It’s hard now but please stay strong. Thinking of you in this difficult time and praying for your comfort and peace.”
  •  “I can’t imagine what you must be going through at this tough time. Please don’t be hard on yourself and know that I am always here for you.”
  • “My heart is heavy hearing about your loss. He/she was an amazing person and will be immensely missed. Please stay strong.”
  • “Words are inadequate to express how sorry I am for your loss. Remembering you and your families in our prayers.”
  • “I may know your brother briefly but he left such a deep impact. It’s sad knowing he’s no more with us. If you need a listening ear, I am just a call away.”
  • “My heart is grieving along with you. Sending love and strength in this difficult time.”
condolences to a friend


Writing Condolence Messages To Someone Who Lost Their Spouse

  •  “Your wife was a wonderful person and it was a joy knowing her. Love is eternal. Praying for peace and healing.”
  •  “I heard about the unfortunate demise of your beloved partner. Upholding you in our prayers.”
  • “I am sad to hear about the sudden loss of your partner. You are in our prayers and thoughts.”
  • “Knowing how deep bond you have with your wife, I can’t imagine what you must be going through. But cherish that you have accumulate enough memories with her to get through this hard time."
  •  “Your husband was an incredible person and hearing about the unfortunate loss left me deeply pained. He will be missed immensely.”
  •  “I am fortunate enough to know your wife. She was an amazing person both inside and out. May her memories live eternally.”
  • “I always admire the bond that you share with your husband. It’s sad knowing his sudden demise. Life is cruel but I hope the memories of him will keep you moving forward. All my love.”
  • “Our time in this world is creating memories, whether good or bad. As unfortunate as it can be, I hope you stay strong and cherish the moments that you have spent with your beloved partner.”
condolences to someone who lost a spouse

Writing Message On A Sympathy Note To A Grieving Colleague

  • “Deeply sad to hear the sudden demise of your loved ones. My condolences to you and your family.”
  • “Your mom was such an incredible person. It's saddens me hearing her unexpected demise. Sending my love and support in this tough time.”
  • “I remember how often you share stories of your brother during free hours. If you need a listening ear, I am here. You’re loved and the team will always be there for you.”
  •  “The entire staff is saddened to hear the sad demise of your dad. Please know that we’re here for you.”
  • “Deeply sorry for the untimely demise of your loved one. Sending condolences and prayers to you and your family.”

holding hands after lose

Writing Condolence Message To Someone Who Lost A Parent

  • "It pains me to hear about the unexpected demise of your mother. She was such a cheerful lady, always ready to help. I am fortunate enough to know her. Love and prayers to you and your family."
  • “Losing one of the parents is immensely painful and hard to process. I can only sympathize with you at this tough time. Take your time and know that I am here if you need a shoulder to lean on.”
  • “Your father was such a wonderful person and learning about his untimely demise makes me sadder. If there is anything I could do, I am just a phone call away. Keeping you and your family in prayers and thoughts.”
  • “Regardless of how old we are, it’s painful losing a parent. Immensely sad for your loss. Praying for your grieving soul.”
  • “As time pass, our grow parents grow older and leave us eventually. I am sorry to hear about your loss. Don’t feel sad that your mother left you, but be happy that you get to share both good and bad times together thus making eternal memories.”
  • “Time is a luxury and to see you spending it with your parents was so pleasing. I am deeply sad to hear about your dad’s demise but know that he is happy and proud of you. You and your mother are in our thoughts and prayers.”

lost a parent

How To Write a Sympathy Message If One Can't Attend A Memorial Service?

There would be times when one cannot attend a memorial due to various reasons. You want to offer support and condolences personally, but due to unforeseen circumstances, you might miss out. In this case, adding more to the card would be better. Here are some examples below:

·      “I wish I was there to pay respect to your father along with you. He was an incredible person.”

·      “Although I am unable to attend your mom’s service, I am here to offer practical support from cleaning the yard, dropping food and other chores.”

·      “In this difficult time, we’re unable to be with you making us deeply pained. Know that we’re in spirit with you -now and beyond.”


What To Say When Someone’s Pet Dies?

Humans share close companionship with their pets, especially dogs and cats. Some of the bonds are so deep that it emotionally breaks people and goes into depression. Only pet lovers know how painful it can be to lose a furry friend with whom you share a strong bond.

One must be empathetic to feel what the other person is going through. If you're not a pet enthusiast, putting out the right words can be difficult. We have a few heartfelt sympathetic messages you can put out of if you have someone or a family member that lost their pet.

  • “It was a joy having to spend time with your pet. Be happy knowing that it is running free in pet’s heaven.”
  • “As painful as it can be, cherish the moments you have spent with your furry friend. Embrace the memories and know that I am here if you need a listening ear.”
  • “The emotional bond you share with your pet was so pure and healing. It saddens to hear about its demise and I can’t imagine what you must be going through. Sending all my love to you.”
  • “I know how much you love your furry companion and no words can comfort you enough in this tough time. Don’t be hard on yourself and know that I am always here to support you.”
  • “I may know your cute pet for a brief time but it was the best moments of my life. I can only imagine the memoires you have created with your furry friend. Take time but don’t forget to cherish those wonderful moments.”
  • “Words aren’t enough to express how much joy your pet brought me. It may have left us but the memories stay. I am praying for your peace and comfort.”
  • “It hurts so much hearing about the sudden demise of your pet. Your furry friend was such a cheerful being and always send a positive vibe. Please don’t be hard on yourself. You did your best.”

These are some of the sympathy messages you can write if you find it difficult to express them. You don't have to write exactly but improvise it by using the pet's name or sharing light anecdotes of their furry friend.

How To Write Sympathy Messages?

Writing, in general, is a challenging task, and people often find it difficult to express their feelings in words. Besides, you need to be wary of grammar and phrasing, or it may turn into a different meaning. Even more challenging is when you have to put a short message and express sympathy you intend to.


Condolence messages come under this category. As mentioned earlier, you should also understand the context before you start writing. It helps you think clearly and come up with correct wordings. Since there are many variants of sympathy messages, you should first figure out your intention. Also, you don't have to use fancy words. Use simple yet comforting and kind wordings that can be understood easily. 

Tips To Write Messages In A Sympathy Card

Keeping the message brief

Keep your sympathy message brief and concise. You don't have to write a page expressing your sadness or sorrow. A message can be short and impactful if you use the right word. You can have a longer conversation when meeting in person or on a telephone call.

It should come from your heart

Whatever you write, it should be genuine and come from your heart. If you're close to the deceased person or family, you can add short memory or anecdote. You can also add thoughtful words, fond memories, or the best qualities of the person who passed away. It adds warmth to the message and a small beam of happiness to the bereaved person.

Offering to help

If you're close to the deceased family or have a close relationship, you can help arrange meals, childcare, housework, offer some finance support, etc. Feel free to include it in the sympathy note if you can do it. Also, avoid asking how you can help or asking them to call you if they need anything. Simply tell them you'll follow up in some days or weeks to offer help such as cooking, taking care of the yard, and other house chores.

Sympathy card

How To Add a Message In A Sympathy Card Offering To Help?

Helping someone grieving can be of great help, even if it's minimal, as it helps lift the burden. Offer support only if you're in a position to do and mean it. Here are some examples to help you in writing one:

  • “Thinking of you in this hard time and wanting to help in every possible way. I’ll give you call later and see a good time to bring the meal.”
  •  “Please don’t be hard on yourself and take rest. I’ll take care of the kids and leave you alone if you need a quiet time.”
  • “I know this is a tough time for you both emotionally and physically. I am here if you need help from arranging meal to taking care of the kids.”

You can refer to these examples or even incorporate your version. It helps to take some inspiration if writing is not your forte.

How To Write A Follow-Up Message On A Sympathy Card?

If someone you know is grieving, it's only natural that you want to offer ongoing support or messages in the coming weeks and months. You can use this kind of card when there is an occasion like birthdays, holidays, or a wedding anniversary. Sending these notes gives comfort to the bereaved soul showing that they are not alone.

Here are some examples you can follow or refer to:

  • "It's been quite some time, but I know that this simple note will at least cheer you a bit. I am here if you need a good meal or shoulder to lean on."
  • “Through this card letting you know that we remember your dad’s birthday. All our love and caring thoughts sending your way.”

What Not To Say In Sympathy Note Or Card

Being in grief is a tough time and can be emotionally straining. The person is vulnerable, and coming across insensitive words may only escalate the pain. So, one needs to be very careful while writing a message on a sympathy card. Be wary while choosing words. It’s a delicate matter yet complex at the same time.

If you’re writing a sympathy note for the first time, here is what you should avoid:

Avoid Saying "I Know How You Feel"

'I know how you feel' is a phrase used by many without knowing every individual suffers differently. It would be better not to use this phrase in a sympathy card as it doesn't give any weight or comfort to the grieving person. In fact, it doesn’t sound genuine. Supportive and encouraging words like, ‘I am here for you'; ' or 'It's okay to cry. Take your time' is more comforting to the grieving person.


I know how you feel

Instead Of Making It About You, Say How They Were Such A Wonderful Person

Keep the focus on the griever. You may have experienced the loss of someone close to you, but at this juncture, pay heed to the one who is grieving currently. You may understand what they are going through, but adding your experience will seem more like disrespect. Maybe you can share stories later personally, but it should be brief and to the point on the card.

 Offering Words Of Advice Should Be Avoided

Many people tend to give words of advice that aren't required in the first place. Write a comforting, supportive, and kind message instead of saying you should do this or that. It's more helpful and gives moral support to the griever.

Be Careful With Cliché Phrases

When it comes to sympathy messages, you'll come across phrases like, "he is in a better place" or "She is no more in pain", even while talking about terminally ill person.  Avoid using them as it highlights the pain, further bringing more sadness and grief. There are better phrases than these that brings are better and more comforting.

Sending Sympathy Cards Within The First Two Weeks

Sending a sympathy note within the first two weeks is always advisable. However, it's okay if you cannot send it within this timeframe. You can send it later if you miss it. It may give comfort to the grieving person to see your kind words.


Does Conveying Heartfelt Sympathy From Just A Phone Call Rude?

No. If you cannot be there personally, you can call the person. Apologize for being able to be present personally. Let them speak and listen while they pour out to you. Say how sorry you are and console them with comforting words.

Are Light Jokes Inappropriate To Comfort A Grieving Person?

It depends on the individual and the situation. It would be better to read the room or closeness you share with this bereaved person before writing a joke.

What To Say When Someone Dies From A Relative Or Family Member?

A family member or relative can be from the maternal or paternal side. The condolence message may vary depending on how you bond with this person. Either way, be precise and avoid exaggeration of words. It can be a simple message, but if it's genuine, that's more than enough to comfort a bereaved person.


None can escape death and may knock at our door anytime. Regardless, it’s always good to be prepared and know what to say to a bereaved soul. It's a difficult subject, often leaving it hard for us to express our feelings. Also, one has to consider the circumstances in addressing their deepest condolences. Understanding the context helps one write and say better in a sympathy card.

Hopefully, this post helps you in writing sympathy messages concisely. You can refer to them and then add your version to it. It's not necessary to use a high vocabulary or words. Use proper wording and correct phrasing to express what you feel. These kinds of messages are complex and delicate, so one should be careful not to sound insensitive or super casual. Your words should give warmth and encouragement instead of highlighting pain or grief.