You can do a lot to help comfort a loved one when someone dies. The simplest and most straightforward thing you can do is send your loved one some written condolences.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Non-Religious Sympathy Messages for a Family Member
- Non-Religious Sympathy Messages for a Close Friend
- Non-Religious Sympathy Messages for a Coworker
If you’re religious, you may have certain phrases you would find comforting. But you need to keep your intended audience in mind. If the deceased and their family wasn’t religious, a religious sentiment may be inappropriate. When in doubt, it’s best to use more secular words of comfort. These non-religious condolences may help inspire you to find the right way to say “sorry for your loss.”
Non-Religious Sympathy Messages for a Family Member
If someone you’re related to loses a friend, you may feel their pain acutely even if you didn’t know the deceased very well. You can use these sentiments to help a family member through a devastating loss.
1. “My heart is hurting for you right now.”
Sometimes just letting someone know that you empathize with their pain is helpful and lets your family member know that she’s not alone.
2. “I know [Name] was very important to you. I’m so sorry for your loss.”
When people die, others sometimes shy away from using their names. They’re afraid that it will cause pain for the people who are grieving. Using the deceased’s name, though, makes condolences feel much more personal.
3. “Please feel free to call me if you need me. I’ll have my phone on, even at night.”
This isn’t an overture you can extend to just anyone. An acquaintance or coworker might feel uncomfortable reaching out to you in the middle of the night but a close family member is much more likely to take you up on this kind of offer.
4. “Please let me know what I can do to support you during this time.”
When offering help to grieving people, it’s often best to be explicit about how you’d like to support them. An acquaintance or coworker may feel uncomfortable asking for specific aid but a family member can tell you what they need.
5. “If you ever want to talk about [Name], I’m here to listen.”
Some people keep their grief to themselves. Other people find it more helpful to talk about their feelings. You can offer to be a sounding board or a safe space for someone who needs that.
6. “I was so sorry to hear about [Name]. If you need any help making funeral arrangements, I’m happy to help.”
Making plans for a funeral is often overwhelming to someone who is mourning someone they loved deeply. This is one area where it’s great to make a concrete offer.
7. “I can’t imagine ever losing you. You are so strong right now.”
Our parents always seem so strong. But when their own parents die, you realize that your parents are also someone else’s child. If your grandparent dies, be sure to extend compassion to your parents even through your own grief.
Non-Religious Sympathy Messages for a Close Friend
Friends are the family you choose. As much as you might hurt for a grieving family member, you may feel that same level of empathy for a close friend experiencing a loss. These sympathy messages may help provide some much-needed solace.
8. “Several people have reached to see how they can help. Would you like me to put together a meal train for you?”
A meal train is where people sign up to drop off prepared meals for a family in mourning. Making a schedule like this helps keep support balanced and spread out over several days. Step up to coordinate those efforts.
9. “As you know, I also lost my mom a few years ago. While our losses in no way compare, I have a lot of empathy for what you’re going through.”
When extending condolences, you shouldn’t say things like “I know exactly what you’re going through.” Grieving experiences are highly unique to each individual. It can come across as diminishing their pain. This message shares your own loss experience without making a direct comparison or centering yourself.
10. “I know you had a complicated relationship. This must be so difficult to process.”
Close friends often confide in one another about complex family relationships. You can acknowledge someone’s complex grief while expressing condolences. It provides them an opportunity to open up further if they need to.
11. “Do you need to come crash at my place for a while? A change of scenery might do you some good right now.”
When you’re grieving, it can be hard to remain alone in a space you shared with someone who has passed away. This is a great example of a concrete offer that you can make as part of your condolences.
12. “I didn’t know [Name] well, but I feel like I did from the way you talked about her. She sounded like a really special person.”
Even if you didn’t personally know the deceased, you can draw on what you know of her when you reach out. This can help your condolences feel more personal.
13. “I know you’re being strong for everyone else right now. I just want to let you know that you don’t have to be strong in front of me.”
A lot of times we tell mourning people that we admire their strength. But it’s also nice to give a friend a safe space to break down. Not everyone can be strong all the time.
14. “I’m holding you in my heart right now.”
Sometimes when it comes to friends, you don’t need to say much. A simple and sweet sentiment like this can hold a lot of meaning.
Non-Religious Sympathy Messages for a Coworker
Some people spend more time with their coworkers than they do with most members of their own family. But even if you spend a lot of time with someone, you might not know him that well. However, you should still make an effort to provide emotional support if a co-worker has experienced a loss. Here are some workplace-appropriate condolences.
15. “I was so sorry to hear about your loss. I know it’s not the kind of thing you can ever prepare yourself for.”
Even if someone was ill for a long time, you can’t always prepare yourself for how you’ll feel when they pass away. If your coworker had a sick loved one, they may have been anticipating this. But the reality is always a shock.
16. “I’m incredibly sorry for your loss. If I can do anything to ease your workload in the next few weeks, please don’t hesitate to let me know.”
If your coworker is mourning or even making funeral arrangements, her mind isn’t going to be on her work. If you can help pick up the slack, you’ll go a long way toward relieving some of her emotional burdens.
17. “We don’t want you to worry about anything here at the office right now. Take as much time as you need with your family.”
If you’re a higher-up in your office, you may have some discretion over granting paid leave. If so, let your employee have as much time and space to grieve as you can spare.
18. “I know there’s a lot on your plate right now, both personally and professionally. Please let me know what I can do to help on either front.”
If you haven’t spent much time with your coworker off the job, you might not feel comfortable offering him personal support. This sentiment presents that option and also emphasizes that you can help with the workload, too.
19. “We took up a collection in the office to help with any expenses you may have right now. We care about you, and are so sorry for your loss.”
When a group of people come together in solidarity, it can be a great show of support. Taking up a collection to defray funeral expenses is a thoughtful group gift.
20. “If you ever need to talk, I’m here to listen. Just let me know and lunch is on me.”
If there’s a coworker you feel close to, you may want to step up and be a pillar of support. This is a great way to express that.
21. “You’re an important part of our team here. We all support you during this difficult time.”
When someone’s worrying about a personal loss, it helps to know his career is stable. This comforting message conveys that they are valued and their job is safe.
Secular Condolences Can Bring Comfort to the Grieving
There are countless religions around the world, and there are endless ways to express condolences in a spiritual manner. But not everyone finds comfort from words associated with religion. Expressing your condolences in a secular way can be more sensitive and inclusive to your intended audience.
If you're looking for more ways to show a grieving loved one you care, read our guides on online condolences and how to help a grieving friend.