When people are hurting, it’s human instinct to comfort them. If someone you know is sick or has lost a loved one, you likely want to do what you can to soften the blow with sympathy messages.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Words of Comfort for Someone Who’s Dying
- Words of Comfort for the Sick
- Words of Comfort for Someone Who Lost a Mother or Father
- Words of Comfort for Someone Who Lost a Son or Daughter
- Words of Comfort for Someone Who Lost Another Family Member
- Words of Comfort for Someone Who Lost a Friend
- Religious or Spiritual Words of Comfort Messages to Share
It’s a little harder to figure out what to say, but speaking from the heart is key. You can also use your personal experiences to empathize.
Here are some examples of what to say to provide comfort in emotionally challenging times
Words of Comfort for Someone Who’s Dying
It’s important not to let friends and family who are dying grapple with death alone. Here are some examples of words that might bring them comfort.
1. “It’s okay to be angry or afraid.”
People who are dying may not handle everything with grace or wisdom. Death is complicated and provokes a tangle of emotions. Your dying loved one may be angry at having his or her life cut short.
He may be scared to leave people behind. You can be a safe place for your loved one to let more negative emotions free.
2. “You’re leaving behind an incredible legacy.”
People are often filled with regret over lost opportunities. This feeling becomes even more intense near the end of your life. You can comfort your loved one by reminding him of his many amazing achievements.
3. “I’ll never forget you.”
Author Justin Cronin wrote, “As long as we remember a person, they're not really gone. Their thoughts, their feelings, their memories become a part of us.” Let your loved one know that he or she will live on in your memory and your heart.
You can read our guide on deathbed etiquette if you're looking for more help.
Words of Comfort for the Sick
Some illnesses are acute and over with quickly. Some are chronic and linger indefinitely. Either way, a patient often needs comforting. Here are some examples of phrases patients may find soothing.
4. “Do you have someone to take you to the hospital for your surgery or treatment? I’d love to give you a ride or help take care of you afterward.”
Friends who are single and who live far from their family members may not have a good support system in place. Sometimes the most comforting words you can offer are a concrete commitment to help.
5. “I saw on Facebook you’ve been having a bad flare-up. I just wanted to ask if there’s anything I can do to help you.”
People with chronic illnesses are used to living in the shadows. Because their illnesses are often invisible, they must learn to rely on themselves. It can be incredibly validating to feel seen. It’s comforting to learn someone wants to help you.
6. “I would love to drop off some dinner for you or have some groceries delivered. What do you need?”
It’s nice to feel cared for when you’re sick. Show a sick loved one you want to assist.
You can read our guide on what to say when someone's sick for more advice.
Words of Comfort for Someone Who Lost a Mother or Father
The world may feel like a lonely place when your parents are no longer with us. Condolences like these may bring comfort to someone who has been essentially orphaned, no matter their age.
7. “I lost my mom five years ago. I know that doesn’t mean that I understand what you’re going through. That kind of loss can’t be replicated. But I am here if you want to talk.”
Even if you’ve faced a similar loss, it doesn’t mean that you experienced it in the same way. Still, it can comfort people to know you have been in a situation with common ground.
8. “After my dad left, your dad stepped up in so many ways. He taught me how to ride a bike. He gave me advice. He was always there when I needed guidance. I won’t ever be able to express how much he meant to me. I’ll miss him.”
When you lose a loved one, it can be comforting to hear about what this person meant to other people. Telling a specific story or sharing personal experiences can be a great way to form a connection.
9. “Can you tell me more about your parents? I’d love to hear about them if you ever want to talk.”
It can be cathartic to share memories of your loved ones. Let your friend know that you’re a safe person to share those stories with.
Words of Comfort for Someone Who Lost a Son or Daughter
There’s an old saying, often attributed to Stephen Adly Guirgis, that says, “No parent should have to bury a child.” It can feel like there are no words that could bring any measure of comfort. But it’s still so important to try.
10. “I’ve organized a meal train, and have people lined up to bring dinners by a few nights a week. Are there any food allergies or preferences I should communicate?”
Losing a child can make your world grind to a halt. One way you can provide comfort is by taking action. Relieve some of the pressure of day-to-day life by making concrete efforts to help.
11. “He was the smartest, sweetest kid I ever met. The world has lost a really amazing person.”
It can be comforting to hear specific praise about a loved one who has passed away. Be sure to highlight the character of a deceased child to bring parents comfort.
12. “I am always here to listen to you when you want to talk about her. Day or night, please reach out.”
Some people avoid speaking about a deceased child. They worry that talking about the child may cause pain. In truth, parents can often handle that kind of loss better by speaking about their late child. Let them know you are someone they can share their stories with.
Words of Comfort for Someone Who Lost Another Family Member
We all forge very different relationships within our own families. You may have an aunt who gives amazing advice. You may have an older brother who always has your back. Each relationship is special and unique. Here are some general words of comfort to give to someone who has lost a family member.
13. “I know your brother pretty much raised you. It must feel like you’ve lost a sibling and a parent. I know I can’t come close to being who he was to you. But I love you, and I am here.”
Some losses are truly overwhelming. Let your loved one know you see the gap that death has left in his life. Let him know you can’t fill the void, but you can try to lessen the loss somewhat.
14. “Your grandmother was such an interesting woman. I’ve always loved hearing your stories about her. I hope you’ll share more with me when you’re ready.”
It can help people to know that they can continue opening up to you when they are in the right mindset. Even if you didn’t know the deceased, you can draw on things you’ve heard to provide words of comfort.
15. “I met your husband at last year’s company holiday party. He was so proud of the work you do. He really adored you.”
Even if you’ve only briefly met the deceased, you can likely find words of comfort. Be specific in how you frame the memory.
Words of Comfort for Someone Who Lost a Friend
Friends are the family you choose. Losing a friend can cut just as deep as losing a relative. Here are some examples of comforting words you can share when someone loses a friend.
16. “She must have been an amazing person. She clearly had great taste in friends. I’d love to hear more about her.”
Even if you didn’t know the deceased, you have some common ground with them. Ask your friend about their relationship. It’ll show your friend that you really care.
17. “I remember the best man speech he gave at your wedding. He was so funny, and you two clearly had a great bond.”
Bringing up a memory of a happy occasion can provide comfort during sadness.
18. “I know she was like a sister to you. I’m so sorry for the pain you’re going through.”
Sometimes people don’t appreciate how close two friends can be. Let your loved one know you understand and value the depth of feelings for a late friend.
Religious or Spiritual Words of Comfort Messages to Share
Many people find comfort through faith. A belief in the afterlife or a greater plan can soothe someone even in times of great loss. These words may comfort the more spiritually-inclined people in your life.
19. “I can’t imagine how much you miss her. Just remember that one day you will be reunited in heaven.”
Religious sentiments aren’t always appropriate. Make sure you know the beliefs of the person you’re sympathizing with. This can be an incredibly comforting sentiment to the right person. But it shouldn’t be conveyed to someone who doesn’t believe in heaven.
20. “I believe that he is looking down on you right now.”
This sentiment is a little less specific than the previous one. It can be comforting to people of many different faiths. It can also be appropriate for someone who is generally spiritual, even if your friend doesn’t ascribe to a specific religion.
21. “I am keeping you in my prayers.”
This is another religious sentiment that has some flexibility. If you and your loved one follow different belief systems, it may still be appropriate. As long as the person appreciates religion, this statement can bring comfort despite its simplicity.
Comforting Messages to Share with Those in Need
It’s challenging to know just what to say when someone dies. How can words be enough to convey deep sympathy and sorrow? If “sorry for your loss” doesn’t seem like enough, dig a little deeper.
Use your empathy and express sincere emotions from the heart. The very act of taking the time to express your condolences will mean more than you might know.