Have you lost someone close to you? If so, you already know that there’s very little anyone can say or do to make you feel better.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Responding to ‘I’m Sorry for Your Loss’ In Person
- Responding to ‘I’m Sorry for Your Loss’ via Text Message
- Responding to ‘I’m Sorry for Your Loss’ on Social Media
People may have already heard about your loss. If this is the case, you may already be receiving texts, social media messages, calls, and visits from people offering condolences. Some of your friends or acquaintances won’t know what to say. They might have even searched “what to say when someone dies” before typing their message or calling you on the phone.
Remember that the messages you receive are sent in love. You may be tired of hearing, “I’m sorry for your loss,” so interpret this phrase to mean, “I care about you.”
Here are some ways to respond to the sentiment.
Tip: If you recently lost a loved one, our post-loss checklist can help you sort through the complicated tasks and challenges you might be facing.
Responding to ‘I’m Sorry for Your Loss’ in Person
If you recently lost someone, you may receive more than the usual number of visitors to your home. Your closest friends and family may surround you with love and affection during this difficult time. They may bring casseroles and fruit trays.
You may face more people at the funeral services. Some of these people you will know, and some you may not know at all.
Most people will say something similar to, “I’m sorry for your loss.” What is the appropriate way to respond when you have heard this phrase dozens of times in the last several days?
Here are some ideas.
1. “Thank you.”
“Thank you,” is the perfect response. It acknowledges that you heard and appreciate the sentiment. The person who expresses his or her concern should not expect you to offer a lengthy reply.
2. “Thank you for coming.”
No one enjoys going to funeral services, so thank the people who do attend. Tell them how much it means to you.
3. “I appreciate that.”
You want to know that others will remember the person who died. For that reason, some of your visitors may not only say, “I’m sorry for your loss,” they may also follow this up with kind words or a memory of the person who died.
Acknowledge both the sorrow and the memories by expressing your appreciation.
4. “I was lucky to be able to share my life with him/her.”
Tell others how you feel about the person you lost. Share memories and tell stories — express appreciation for the person’s life in the midst of your sorrow.
Responding to ‘I’m Sorry for Your Loss’ via Text Message
Text messages have replaced phone calls and mailed communication. You may not agree with this trend, but it’s the reality of modern life.
Here are ways you can respond when a friend, extended family member or an acquaintance sends you the message, “I’m sorry for your loss.”
5. “Thank you. Here are the service details . . .”
Your friend may do more than offer condolences. He or she may also want to attend the funeral services.
Share the service details with your friends or family members as soon as you can. People who want to attend may have to make travel arrangements, take time off work, find child care, or cancel appointments. The sooner you can share the details, the more likely he or she will be able to attend.
6. “Thank you for all your support during these difficult months.”
When someone you love is dying, you may find yourself withdrawing from society because you don’t have time to socialize or you don’t feel like being around others. Good friends will understand, so thank them.
7. “Thank you for reaching out to me. It’s been a very difficult few days.”
You may not approve of using text messages to express sympathy, but there are some advantages to this method of communication.
For one thing, you don’t have to reply to texts immediately. You also won’t have to try to talk with someone when you’re overwhelmed with grief.
This response lets the sender know you may not be up to face-to-face communication at the moment.
8. “Thank you. I know that he/she is in a better place now.”
When you believe in the afterlife, death is sometimes bittersweet. If your loved one suffered during a long illness, you may be thankful that he or she is at peace and not hurting anymore. And when you believe in heaven, you may rejoice thinking about the person being in the presence of God.
Share those thoughts with the person who texts. If the sender is a believer, he or she will understand your sentiment.
Responding to ‘I’m Sorry for Your Loss’ on Social Media
It’s become socially acceptable to announce the death of a loved one on social media. If you didn’t know all of the deceased’s contacts, this is a great way to inform them about the death of your family member.
What do you do when you receive sympathy messages on Facebook? Do you respond to each one separately? Or do you post another message thanking everyone for his or her condolences? Either method is probably acceptable.
What if someone sends you a private message through your social media account? Here are some ways to respond to condolences on Facebook, Instagram, or any other account you may have.
9. “I know this is difficult for you, too.”
You may be an immediate family member of the deceased but others who send you messages may be in mourning, too. For example, maybe your mom or dad had the same best friend for 50 years. This person will obviously miss that relationship.
Acknowledge this special relationship — you aren’t the only one who’s grieving. Others feel it, too.
10. “Thank you for the message. I appreciate your kind words.”
You may receive sympathy messages from people you’ve never met after you announce a loved one’s death on social media.
Just because someone is a friend or acquaintance of the deceased doesn’t mean that you had any interaction with the person.
11. “I know you understand what I’m going through.”
Others who reach out to you may have lost someone, too. It would be kind to acknowledge this loss in your response.
12. “It’s so comforting knowing that there are people I can turn to in my time of need. I love you.”
If you receive a message from a close friend who you can always rely on, share your love with that individual. Sometimes it takes the death of a loved one to help us see who the important people are in our lives.
Finding the Right Words to Say
You might be answering texts and messages as you make funeral arrangements. It’s a hard task, especially if you didn’t know what the deceased wanted. Did your dad want to be buried or cremated? What was mom’s favorite hymn? Where did your husband want to be buried? A lot of decisions need to be made.
Once you’ve planned your loved one’s funeral, you may start thinking about your own funeral arrangements. Start your end-of-life planning today so your family members don’t have to make those difficult choices for you someday.