Losing a grandchild can be one of the most painful experiences a grandparent can go through, as a grandparent’s grief is twofold. First, they can mourn the loss of the grandchild themselves and the loss of their relationship.
Second, they feel the pain of seeing their adult child grieve. The loss of a child for a parent can be devastating, and as a result, a grandparent’s two-layered grief can be deeply upsetting as well.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What to Say to a Friend Who Lost a Grandchild
- What to Say to a Family Member Who Lost a Grandchild
- What to Say to a Boss, Colleague, or Client or Lost a Grandchild
Sharing your sympathy message shows support to a friend, family, or work colleague after the death of a grandchild can be helpful while they grieve. In their time of profound sadness, consider saying one or more of these messages to honor their loss.
Tip: Our post-loss checklist can help a grandparent and their child sort through the complex post-loss tasks they might be facing—especially if their grandchild was an adult.
What to Say to a Friend Who Lost a Grandchild
When a friend grieves, you want to do everything possible to make them feel supported and comforted. The loss of a grandchild can feel enormous, and it can be hard to know how to help. Saying “sorry for your loss” might not feel like enough.
Good friends need each other in rough times, so connecting and being close will do a lot. Any of the following statements can help you share your concern and support. If you live nearby, consider spending time together in person or doing some tasks for your friend. And if there’s distance between you, phone calls and video chats can be a great way to connect. You might also contact other family or mutual friends to see if there are ways you can help from afar.
1. I don’t know exactly how you feel, but I know you’re hurting. Please know that I care about you and am here for you.
2. I’m sorry you’re going through this. I know it must be hard and I’m here for you no matter what. Is it OK if I call or text to stay in touch?
3. I’m thinking of you a lot right now, and I don’t exactly know what to say. I want to help you with some daily life things so you don’t have to worry about them. Would it be better for me to bring over a meal or help with some errands?
4. Sometimes it’s hard to talk about this with family, so if you ever need to cry or get something off your chest, just text or call me and I’m there. And I’ll keep in touch with you too; I’m not going anywhere.
5. I’m not sure what to say, but I want to be here for you. Let’s go have coffee/have lunch/take a walk and just spend some time together. I’ll listen if you want to talk but you don’t have to.
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What to Say to a Family Member Who Lost a Grandchild
A lost grandchild is a loss for the entire family. When a grandchild dies, a family branch gets cut short far too early. This grandchild will be forever frozen in time as a young person, which can make this loss particularly heartbreaking.
Parents and grandparents will see the loss of a child from different perspectives. The grief of grandparents can get unintentionally pushed to the side. The loss of one’s child can be devastating because of the direct family connection. But grandparents have a special role in the family as well, and it’s important to acknowledge their loss, too.
Holidays can be particularly difficult after any family death. Depending on the age of the grandchild, their absence may change the way some traditions are done. While family gatherings may be emotional and a bit painful, they’re also opportunities to talk and relive special moments together. Grandparents often have stories or memories that don’t involve parents. And if some of these haven’t been shared before, a family gathering is a good chance to talk about them.
Everyone in a family can have a connection to a grandchild, so a good way to show support and sympathy is to put a spotlight on it. Your family member wants to be sure nobody forgets the special place this grandchild holds in the family tree, even in death. When you comfort them, emphasize memories, connections, and stories. Share some of your own and encourage your family members to speak up as well.
This may be a good opportunity for everyone in the family to make videos, audio recordings, or written stories about this grandchild. In the coming years when older family members pass away and the memories get fuzzy, these recordings will become precious treasures.
6. I can only imagine how much this hurts. [Name] was a part of so many wonderful family memories and I’ll never forget them.
7. [Name] was such a joyful part of the family and they will always have a place in our hearts.
8. I know you were so close to [name] and you’ll miss them terribly. I will too and it won’t be the same without them. We’ll always remember.
9. I know it might be hard, but you can always talk to me about [name] if you want. They’re part of the family no matter what and I want to keep their memory alive.
10. I’m glad we can be here for each other. It’s hard for me too sometimes.
11. You are a wonderful grandparent to [name] and I remember how much their face lit up when you were around. [Name] loved you so much.
12. Our family will always have a place for [name]. And I want to help the next generations know more about who [name] is and how much they meant to us.
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What to Say to a Boss, Colleague, or Client or Lost a Grandchild
Work relationships can be a mix of professional and personal connections. If you feel close to your coworkers and consider them friends, you might go further than what these statements suggest. But for many people, colleague and client relationships are somewhat separated from personal activities.
In this case, you may sincerely want to express your sympathy but may feel like some gestures are too personal. The following comments can help you share your thoughts of sympathy and support with people in your work life. And if you aren’t comfortable saying any of these out loud, writing your sympathy message in a card is another good option.
13. I’m not sure there are words to comfort you, but I am so sorry for your loss and I know it’s painful. You have my deepest sympathy and I’m thinking of your family often.
Sometimes words fail to express deep emotion. It’s OK to acknowledge that and your boss or colleague is likely to know this. There may be little to comfort them after a loss like this, especially since the death of a young person can seem so unfair. Just saying that you’re thinking of them can be a good first step.
14. I know this has been difficult for your family. I’d like to give money in the name of your grandchild to a charity or organization to help you honor them. I’ll speak to whoever is handling memorial money for your family and let you know what I do.
Many families set up memorial funds or give money to charities when an individual passes away. In many cases, the charities reflect a specific health condition they had or a cause they supported.
Expressing sympathy to someone you work with can be challenging, especially if you aren’t personally close. Giving a donation helps the family honor their lost grandchild and makes your choice simple. Even if it doesn’t seem personal, your colleague will appreciate your kind gesture and the monetary support.
15. The holidays will be different this year after losing your grandchild. You are in my thoughts and I’ll be in touch, just to let you know I’m here for you.
Depending on how well you know your colleague or client, you might invite them out for coffee or to a social event. The holidays can be busy and lonely at the same time, especially when a family member has died. Traditions and fun activities aren’t the same, and some people aren’t sure what to do.
Sometimes people want to grieve in privacy, and other times a grieving person may need to reconnect with others. Offer your invitation and tell them it’s OK if they aren’t up to it. Everyone is different, but your invitation might hit on the right moment for them.
16. Take care of yourself and your family. This is a tough time and you need to spend time together, so you don’t have to worry about anything here at work. I got this.
For a team of coworkers that work closely with each other, a death in someone’s family can mean a disruption at work. Sometimes people feel bad for having to take off time to deal with their grief. This comment reminds them of what really matters, and that work concerns aren’t on their plate right now.
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Losing a Grandchild - Sympathy and Support
The loss of a grandchild can be heartbreaking and painful, and your support is important. If you’re uncertain how to express your sympathy, focus on being genuine and acknowledging how hard it is to grieve. Nobody can take away the pain of losing a grandchild.
But the support you give your friend, family member, or colleague will help them get through their grief one step at a time.
- Duchow-Moore, Ashley. “Exploring Dialectics in Grandparent Grief.” Scholar Works, Boise State, May, 2011, scholarworks.boisestate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1174&context=td