What to Say When Someone Loses a Husband

Updated

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It’s hard to know what to say to someone who has had the worst day of their lives. You may hear yourself offering condolences to a friend who lost a husband, but the words may not feel powerful enough for the situation. 

Jump ahead to these sections:

So what do you say to someone who recently lost a husband? How does the message change if you send it through text or social media instead of face-to-face? Here are some ideas to use for both scenarios. Some of these messages can even be adjusted to add to sympathy flowers or a post on an online memorial page. We’ll also give you some guidance on what to say if the husband suffered from a long illness. 

Tip: If you'd like to lend some practical support to someone grieving the loss of a husband, our post-loss checklist can help. 

What to Text Someone Who Lost Their Husband

this image is a example of what to text someone who lost their husband

Even though it may feel strange to text someone sympathy messages, many prefer this form of communication. Your friend may not be physically able to talk on the phone while grieving the loss, and they may prefer to respond to a text instead of talking on the phone. 

Also, you may have heard the news initially from a text. It may have been the quickest form of communication that your friend had to spread the bad news. Here are some ways to respond to that message. 

1. “I am so sorry to hear this. My heart breaks for you.”

When talking about death, some people turn to a formal way of speaking. But you don’t have to use words like “condolences,” especially when you are comforting a grieving friend via text. You may consider merely speaking from the heart.

2. “Please know that I’m here for you.”

A person who loses a spouse may suddenly have a difficult time making decisions. Let your friend know that you are available to help plan the in-person or virtual funeral service, run errands, or pick up relatives from the airport. 

3. “I heard the news about Mike. I can’t even begin to understand what you are feeling, but I wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you.”

Don’t be afraid to use the deceased’s name in your text. Your friend will probably want to hear people talk about the person who passed away as often as possible.

4. “I’m so sorry to hear about Bob. The 4th of July won’t be the same without his firework displays. He was loved by all, and we will miss him so much.”

Consider sharing specifics about the deceased. People like to know that their loved ones will be remembered.

5. “Please accept my condolences on the passing of your partner Juan. He was a thoughtful man with a wonderful spirit.”

People like to hear kind things about the person they loved. Even if you didn’t know the man well, you might try to think of something thoughtful to say about him.

6. “We were all shocked to hear about Mitch. Everyone in the office sends their love. Don’t even think about work for a while. We have everything covered.”

It’s important for co-workers to reassure grieving employees so they can focus on family during these rough times.

7. “Thinking of you.”

A quick text that doesn’t require a response may be the best thing you can do for your friend. 

» MORE: Honor a loved one with an online memorial. Create one for free with Cake.

What to Say to Someone Who Lost Their Husband

This image is examples of what to say to someone who lost their husband.

Some people dread going to visitations and funerals because they don’t know what to say to the deceased’s family. You may worry that your own emotions will overpower you. Or you may worry about saying something too heartfelt that will make the family members cry.

Here are some ideas for what to say to a person who is grieving the loss of a husband.

8. “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

This statement may sound a bit overused, but it clearly and concisely states how you are feeling. That said, you may consider alternatives to the ubiquitous, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

9. “I’m so sorry this has happened.”

When speaking face-to-face with someone, you may feel strange using the word “death.” Here is a simple way to talk about what happened without having to use harsh-sounding words.

10. “I know that you must be exhausted. Be kind to yourself.”

Do you think that your friend needs a reminder to eat, sleep, and slow down for a bit? There are many details to consider when planning a funeral, and some people don’t take care of themselves during those difficult hours.

11. “Is it ok if I bring dinner to you tomorrow night?”

Instead of asking how you can help, suggest something and a specific time to do it. 

12. “I thought a great deal of Sam. He had a great sense of humor and always had a good joke to share.”

Share a specific compliment or memory of the deceased. In the above example, consider telling the joke.

13. “I don’t know what to say.”

It’s common to be tongue-tied when facing someone with devastating news. Admit it if you don’t know what to say.

14. “I love you.”

It won’t “be all right.” And your friend will not “get over the loss.” Grief changes you forever. Sometimes all you can do is to remind people that they are loved.

What to Say to Someone Who Lost Their Husband on Social Media

This image is a example of what to say to someone over social media.

Do you need to share a sympathy message on a person’s social media post? Here are some things to write other than “thoughts and prayers.”

Although most people only write one line, consider sharing specific memories of the person. This may inspire other people who see your post to do this as well. 

15. “The love that you and Tony shared was an inspiration to us all. Thinking of you.”

Of course, only share this if the couple seemed to have a close bond. This would not be appropriate for a couple who had a long, volatile relationship.

16. “Please accept my condolences on the loss of Stu. He was a wonderful man.”

People tend to be a little more formal when writing messages of sympathy instead of speaking them.

17. “I’m praying for comfort for your entire family.”

If you say you are praying, then follow up on your promise. 

18. “My heart goes out to you at the loss of your wonderful husband.”

Tell the person in mourning that you care that they are suffering.

19. “It was an honor to know Seth. He will be missed by many.”

As you can see, your social media message doesn’t have to be long or elaborate. 

20. “I’m sorry I never had the opportunity to meet Chet, but I know how much you loved and admired your husband. Please know that I am thinking of you during this difficult time.”

Have you never met the deceased? Here’s a way to handle that when posting on social media.

21. “Although we have never met, I worked with Tom for over 20 years. He was admired by everyone in the office and will be missed.”

Perhaps you never met the surviving spouse. This post is a way to handle that unique situation.

What to Say to Someone Who Lost Their Husband After a Long Illness

This image is a example message for someone who lost their husband after a long illness

It is never easy to lose a loved one, regardless of whether he suffered from an extended illness or was taken quickly due to an accident. 

Here are some sympathy messages for someone who lost their husband after a long illness. The most important thing to remember in this situation is not to imply that the person is relieved by the death of their loved one.

22. “No one could have cared for George better than you did. I am so sorry for your loss.”

Was the spouse the full-time caregiver for the person who died? Consider mentioning this when offering your sympathies, especially if you witnessed the care first-hand.

23. “I heard that your husband’s painful struggle has ended. Please know that I am praying for peace and comfort for your entire family.”

You can mention that the struggle has ended without saying anything about how the family must be relieved. Here’s an example of that sentiment.

24. “I’m sure you feel lost right now. Please know that I am here for you any time you need to talk.”

Some people need time to be on their own before they begin having social interactions with others. This is not true for everyone. Ask your friend how she is feeling.

25. “I hope you are comforted by your many happy memories together.”

Remind your friend of better times, especially if their loved one suffered at the end of his life.

Words of Sympathy for the Loss of a Husband From Cancer

The death of a loved one is difficult – no matter if the family knew the end was imminent or not. Grief experts remind us NOT to use the phrase “at least” when offering condolences, such as “at least he’s no longer in pain” or “at least he’s in a better place.”

Instead, here are some expressions of sympathy to consider.

26. “Please know that you have my deepest sympathy for the loss of Jim. I know it will do little to help, but you are in my thoughts during this tragic time.”

If prayer is not a regular part of your life, you might feel strange offering “thoughts and prayers” to someone who is grieving. So here’s an alternative to this common phrase.

27. “I’m so sorry about Bob. Cancer really sucks.”

Some of you may feel strange using formal language when offering sympathy to a close friend. If that’s not your style – or your friend’s style – then speak from the heart. 

28. “I want to be here for you, but tell me when you need some space.”

It’s okay to be straightforward when talking with a person experiencing grief. Your friend may not want to be alone right now, but that doesn’t mean you need to fill the silence with conversation. Just be there.

29. “I don’t know what to say, but I wanted to be here for you and to give you a hug.”

Physical contact is important to some people during grief. There is a soothing power to touch. However, be aware of social cues when a hug might not be appreciated. 

Religious Words of Sympathy for the Loss of a Husband

If you and the spouse or partner of the deceased have similar views of God and faith, it’s only natural that you would refer to the higher power when offering a message of sympathy. A person’s faith may provide great comfort to them when a family member dies.

A great bond is formed when people are able to be open about their beliefs in front of others. So here are some religious words of sympathy to offer to a family who believes in God.

30. “I pray that you feel God’s comforting arms around you right now during this difficult time.” 

Consider sharing this passage from the Old Testament: “I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” Psalms 16:8

31. “I know that you are really hurting right now. But I hope that you are comforted in knowing that you’ll meet again some day.”

Although the concept of reunification in Heaven is complicated, it is often found in messages of comfort. Consider sharing this with another believer. 

32. “Although we will all miss Bob, imagine him being pain-free and celebrating in Heaven right now. I’m sure that gives you joy.”

It’s not usually a good idea to tell someone to look on the bright side of things following a death. However, for those who are secure in the promise of Heaven, the idea of their loved one being present there may give them peace.

Words of Sympathy for the Loss of a Husband and Father

What do you say to a family who has lost a husband and father? Here are some phrases to consider when offering your condolences.

33. “The love your spouse had for you is something that can never be taken away. Hold on to that and know that they are with you always.”

Eternal love is a comforting thought to remind people of after a loss.

34. “Much love to you and your children during these difficult times.”

Extend your messages of sympathy to the children as well as the spouse.

35. “Your husband’s big heart and personality were contagious. My heart breaks for you and your family during this time.”

Sharing kind words about the deceased is always a welcomed gesture.

36. “I hope your sweet family can act as a shelter in this storm of life you are experiencing.” 

Consider sending this message if your friend has supportive kids or extended family.

37. “Despite the pain of loss you and your children are currently experiencing, I hope that in time, you’ll be able to reflect on the wonderful marriage you had and so many years of happiness.”

Of course, this message would not be appropriate for every situation. 

38. “May words of tender comfort and sweet memories fill your heart. I also hope you will allow your children to pour love into your life at this time. I know it will strengthen and encourage you.”

Many people deliver sympathy messages by sending texts or commenting on Facebook posts. 

Words of Sympathy for the Sudden Loss of a Husband

What do you say to someone who lost a husband due to an accident or other sudden cause of death? While all death is difficult, sudden death has the added issue of “shock” that might not be present if a person dies after a long illness or of old age.

While all of the other messages we have given would undoubtedly be appropriate for a sudden loss, here are some more passages about sympathy to consider.

39. “I can’t imagine the pain you are going through right now. My deepest condolences go out to you and your loved ones.”

It’s not appropriate to say that “things will get easier once the shock wears off” or that the “pain will go away.” 

40. “I know that your life has suddenly and dramatically changed. Please know that I am here for you. You’re not alone.”

The sudden loss of a spouse may cause a person to feel fearful of the future.

41. “I know that the next few days will probably be a blur, but I will call you on Tuesday to schedule a meal delivery for your family.”

Find specific ways to help a family who has suddenly experienced a loss. 

42. “We were so shocked and saddened to hear about Bob’s passing. Please know that everything is taken care of at work. Please take all the time you need.”

Of course, sudden tragedies are challenging to plan for in the workplace. Reassure your coworker that they shouldn’t worry about their work responsibilities. 

Words of Sympathy for the Loss of an Ex-Husband

Your friend’s relationship with the deceased may have been “complicated.” However, you still may feel that it is necessary to offer sympathy to a friend who lost their ex-husband.

Here are some examples of what to say in this tricky situation.

43. “I know things weren’t always great between you two. However, I’m sorry to hear that Joe died. You are in our thoughts.”

You don’t have to dance around the fact that your friend and the deceased were divorced. 

44. “I heard about Liam and wanted to check in with you. I hope you are doing okay.”

Perhaps your friend and the deceased had a tumultuous relationship, and you feel strange offering sympathy. Here’s a way to check in with your friend without commenting on the status of the relationship.

45. “I’m glad that you were able to remain friends with Steven after the divorce. I’m sorry you lost your friend.”

Instead of focusing on the failed marriage when offering sympathy, offer condolences to someone who lost a good friend.

46. “I am sorry for your loss.”

You may consider treating the death as you would any other. 

47. “I’m sure this is an emotional time for you. Let’s go out for coffee and talk things over.”

Instead of a formal sympathy message, your friend may need your presence.

48. “Ted was a great dad! Please let your kids know that I am sorry for their loss.”

The deceased may not have been a good spouse, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t important to other people. Accentuate the positive when someone dies. 

49. “Mark was such a funny guy. Do you remember when . . .”

Your friend is probably grieving the loss, so sharing positive memories about the deceased would be appropriate. 

Words of Sympathy for the Loss of a Stepfather and Husband

As you stand in line to offer condolences to the spouse and stepchildren of the deceased, you might wonder what to say. Do you refer to the deceased as “your dad” or “your stepdad” in front of his stepchildren? What if they called him by his first name and only used “dad” to refer to their biological father?

If you aren’t sure, avoid using such labels or wait for the cues. Here’s how to handle this tricky situation.

50. “I am sorry for your loss.”

This generic expression of sympathy is heartfelt and covers all relationships. 

51. “We will miss Bob’s booming laugh at the office. Things won’t be the same without him.”

You might avoid trying to label the relationship and instead focus on the positive attributes of the deceased, as we showed you in this example.

52. “Bob always talked very fondly of you. Please accept our condolences.”

If you know the deceased had a positive relationship with his stepchildren, it’s worth mentioning to the kids.

53. “I was so sad to hear about your stepfather’s passing. I didn’t know him well, but I know he meant the world to you.”

How do you offer sympathy to someone you don’t know? Here’s an example.

54. “I am praying for your family.”

If you know that you are speaking to fellow believers, offer prayers for peace and comfort. 

55. “Losing someone so important to you may feel like such a shock. Please be kind to yourself over the next few months and know that I am thinking about you.”

Did the loss occur suddenly? Here’s something to say to a stunned family.

56. “You were all wonderful caregivers to Bob. He loved you all so much.”

Did the family act as primary caregivers after a long health battle? Give them a pat on the back and an extra hug because caregiving is hard. 

Quotes to Share After the Loss of a Husband

While we try to help you all by providing articles such as this, we know that your memorized words might fly right out the window when standing in front of someone whose heart is breaking.

Here are some quotes to text or write in a card. 

57. “A cut finger is numb before it bleeds; it bleeds before it hurts, it hurts until it begins to heal; it forms a scab and itches until finally, the scab is gone and a small scar is left where once there was a wound. Grief is the deepest wound you ever had. Like a cut finger, it goes through stages, and leaves a scar.” – Unknown 

We love this description of grief, and we wish we knew who said it. Instead of describing grief as a journey, it emphasizes that grief forever changes a person.

58. “There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go.” – Unknown

You may have experienced grief in your own life, but grief experts advise people not to compare their situations with someone else’s. 

59. “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving

Some people find it honorable to stay stoic during a funeral. However, this quote describes tears as “sacred” and a mark of power. 

60. “Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality.” – Emily Dickinson

We love this line from a poem by Emily Dickinson. 

Words of Sympathy for a Colleague or Coworker Who Lost a Husband

Sometimes we feel obligated to go to funerals or share sympathy messages with people we don’t know well. So if you have a work colleague, client, or coworker who recently lost a husband, here is some guidance on offering sympathy.

It may be best to be direct and concise in situations like this and leave the heavy lifting to close family members and friends. 

61. “Please accept my sincerest sympathy for the loss of your husband. You are in my thoughts and prayers.”

This generic statement is well suited for coworkers and people you don’t know well.

62. “May the memories you and your husband made sustain you through the pain of this loss.” 

This is a beautiful way to offer condolences to someone you didn’t know well.

63. “Wishing you hope during this time of sorrow and comfort during this time of pain.” 

Are you looking for another way to say “thoughts and prayers”? Consider something like this.

64. “I am sorry I never met Dave, but I can tell by this outpouring of love that he was a wonderful man.”

Here’s something to say to a widow at a funeral if you didn’t know the deceased. 

65. “I know I speak for all of our coworkers in saying that you are a deeply valued colleague, and we are thinking of you. Take all of the time you need, and we’ll look forward to seeing you when you’re ready.”

You may hesitate to bring up work to someone grieving a loss. However, here’s a way to bring it up that may put your colleague at ease.

66. “I know you have a lot of questions and concerns about work, but please know that we have spoken to your clients and explained the situation. They each send you condolences and will talk with you when you return.”

Busy professionals may panic when away from the office unexpectedly. If this describes your coworker, offer them reassurance.

Where Can You Share Your Sympathy Message?

Hopefully, we’ve given you some ideas of words or phrases to use when someone has lost a spouse or partner. However, we haven’t discussed how you share these messages. So, here are some ideas on where and when to share a sympathy message with someone who has lost a husband or partner.

» MORE: Need help with funeral costs? Create a free online memorial to gather donations.

In-person

Funerals serve several purposes. It gives people a chance to honor the deceased, and it also gives people the opportunity to support those who are grieving the loss. Knowing this, if at all possible, go to the funeral.

Please understand that you aren’t the only one who feels awkward attending a funeral. It’s hard to know what to say and how to behave. Funerals are also uncomfortable reminders of the inevitability of death.

On the other hand, if the family is going through the process of planning a public event for their loved one, this means that they are seeking the support of those around them. 

If the family decides not to have a public service for the deceased, you may consider arranging to see the family at some other time. For example, schedule a time to drop off a meal or bring a plant and a card. You can then give your condolence messages in person or simply just hug them.

Social media

If your friend or family member shares news about the death of their husband or partner through social media, it’s appropriate to use the “comment” section to send messages of condolences. However, if the information is not shared on social media by the spouse or partner, don’t post a message of condolence for all their friends to see. 

Online memorial page

Online memorial pages allow families to inform others about a death and share details regarding the funeral services. These online memorial pages can be sent through email or text, making them a great way to spread news without using social media accounts.  

Even though online memorial pages vary depending on the provider, many allow visitors to post sympathy messages or share memories for all to see. Some of these websites also make it easier for users to send sympathy gifts or make donations to the family’s favorite charity. 

Sympathy cards

You may consider sending a sympathy card to the family of the deceased. You can purchase religious or secular cards and some designed specifically for the loss of a husband.

Some greeting card companies now have a “sending” service if you find yourself too busy to complete the process of buying and mailing a card.

It’s Hard To Know What To Say

You’re not the only one who struggles to find the right words during emotional situations. That’s why we provide resources such as this. 

You may also consider sharing a Bible verse, poem, or quote that you think is especially profound and significant. You may also find a heartfelt, wholesome meme that expresses sympathy.

No matter how you say it, be sure to let your friend know that you care. 

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