Many people’s closest bond on Earth is with their moms. After all, she was the first person to know you.
Losing a mother or mother-in-law, even when they’ve lived a long and full life, is a devastating experience for many people. When your friend or loved one has experienced the loss of a mother, it can be a challenge to know what to say that will really help them.
Our Picks to Pair with Your Words of Sympathy
- Gourmet Sympathy Basket ($49.95)
- Freshly Baked Gourmet Cookies ($35.99)
- Brownies, Crumb Cakes, and Muffins Gift Basket ($59.99)
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Words of Sympathy for a Card
- Words of Sympathy for a Text or DM
- Words of Sympathy to Say Face-to-Face
- Short Sympathy Card or Flower Messages for the Loss of a Mother
- Religious Sympathy Messages for the Loss of a Mother
- Sympathy Messages for the Loss of a Mother-in-Law
- Sympathy Messages for the Loss of a Stepmother
Perhaps the first thing to remember is that what you say may not matter as much as your presence and willingness to listen. That said, if you’re looking for something kind to say to express how sorry you are for their loss, here are some starting points which you can change to fit your circumstances.
Tip: If someone you know is in charge of wrapping up loose ends after losing a loved one, consider sharing our post-loss checklist to help them sort it out.
Words of Sympathy for a Card
When writing a card to someone who’s grieving, even a short, heartfelt sympathy message, can comfort them. Just remembering to send a card and a sympathy gift basket (like this gourmet sympathy basket with free shipping) can show an abundance of care that touches their heart.
1. I wish you comfort in this time of mourning.
This phrase is a good go-to option because it doesn’t minimize grief or assume a lot about the other person’s experience.
Too often, well-intentioned friends and family of those who are grieving make assumptions. Choose a positive wish for your friend that doesn’t define their experience.
2. It’s so hard to be without her, and I feel for you.
If you know that your friend or family member was very close to his or her mother, this phrase succinctly acknowledges his or her pain and your presence and support.
3. Even though words can’t quite express how much, I want to be here for you.
Heartfelt expressions of support that acknowledge the ways that words fail you may touch your friend or family member and help them open up.
4. Know that your love/care helped her during those final days.
Specifically for a daughter or son who spent a lot of time in a caregiver role, this reminder of their steadfast kindness in the final days can be of some comfort.
5. I can’t imagine how you’re feeling. I care for you so much.
When you’re not sure what to say, acknowledging that you love your friend or family member and that you aren’t trying to tell them what they feel may be a source of comfort.
6. I hope that you’ll be able to take comfort in your positive memories of her over time.
For a son or daughter who had a very happy relationship with his or her Mom, reminders of the good times can create a sweet remembrance in time.
7. Relief from suffering is a blessing, but doesn’t make it easier for those who miss her so.
If their mother was in pain, this sentiment can acknowledge that grief is still acute even as we are relieved that she’s no longer hurting.
8. I hope you can take comfort in the presence of close friends and family in this tough time.
A reminder that social support is there can be a gentle way to show support as well.
Words of Sympathy for a Text or DM
If you’re expressing sympathy digitally, a shorter message can still carry great impact for the person you love who is going through grief. You might also consider sending an emailable gift, like one of these digital gifts, along with your message, too.
9. So sorry to hear about your Mom.
This phrase may be good for an acquaintance or for someone who doesn’t typically share a lot of emotion with you. You can still offer your support.
10. If you need or want company, let me know.
Text and DM are delivered instantly, so this can be a good way to offer to visit whenever they need you. You can make this message personal and offer to bring some ice cream or magazines at a specific time you’ll be in the neighborhood.
11. I’m happy to chat whenever.
Text and DM are also a good way to respond with the willingness to talk on the phone. Even if they don’t have much to say, many people feel a little better after a phone call.
12. I wish you comfort over these tough days and weeks.
For someone who’s grief is extending past those first few days, it’s nice to normalize that the process takes time, even as you desire the best for them.
13. Grief is a process, and I’m here for whatever you need.
This statement works best to remind people not to judge themselves for taking some time.
14. I miss her too.
This sharing of your own grief can be helpful if you were also very close to that person’s mother. Knowing someone else is feeling even a part of what you’re going through may bring comfort.
15. Want to get out and go for a walk?
If someone has been stuck receiving guests and feeling trapped inside, a quiet walk with you might be a good thing to suggest.
16. You can tell me anything, if you want.
If someone is putting on a brave face and you get some one-on-one time, texting this might be wise.
Words of Sympathy to Say Face-to-Face
When your friends and family are suffering, it can be easy to clam up and not say anything. Sometimes, that works: a hug or an arm squeeze and a willingness to listen shouldn’t be underestimated. Still, bravely offering condolences, even when it’s hard, can be part of showing love.
17. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.
This expression focuses on how you wish your friend didn’t have to go through pain.
18. How can I help with [this event]?
If there are logistics of a wake or funeral to plan, asking face to face how you can be part of the team may be a helpful expression for your friend or family member.
19. I’m running out for food—would you like (insert meal item)?
Often, people in grief appreciate very concrete statements rather than vague “let me know if you need anything” statements. Offer to get food or run errands, and to take them with you if they want to come. If you can't be there in person and food is your love language, send an extra-special gift basket, like a box of freshly-baked gourmet cookies or fancy muffins and bread.
20. She’s left such a legacy with us all.
For a beloved mother, this reminder of how much she is esteemed and loved can be a way to express your grief.
21. What an amazing person. We’ll miss her so much.
Similarly, this statement focuses on the great things about your friend or family member’s mother. You don’t have to elaborate a lot to show that your friend’s mother affected you deeply.
22. You can say whatever you want to say—or nothing at all. I’m here either way.
When you give a person the freedom to speak or not speak, you can open up a companionable silence where you are simply there for each other.
23. Need some alone time? I can make sure no one bothers you.
Depending on whether your friend or family member has been constantly around people during the past few days, they may need you to let them have a moment’s rest without anyone around for a little while.
24. Are there calls that need to be made? I’m happy to do some of the frustrating logistics with you.
Grief coincides with many important logistical and financial decisions. I
f your friend is facing a stack of envelopes and calls to make, asking if there are any general inquiries you can make for them can be a real help.
25. You’re very strong, even if you don’t feel it right now.
Rather than using this statement to get the person to do anything—they probably don’t need you to push them right now—it’s for those who feel discouraged in their grief, as if they can’t go on.
Short Sympathy Card or Flower Messages for the Loss of a Mother
Flower arrangements and house plants are typical sympathy gifts. When you order these tokens of sympathy from a florist, they will ask what message you’d like to write on the card.
Here are some short sympathy messages that you could include.
26. “Bertha will be forever in our hearts and memories. Thinking of you.”
Here’s a sympathy message that focuses on the memory of the deceased. This would be appropriate whether you know the deceased’s family or not.
27. “With deepest sympathy, The Smith Family”
Some people simply include a closing and signature on sympathy cards from florists.
28. “I’m sorry I can’t be there in person. Please know we are thinking of you.”
Some people send flowers or plants if they cannot attend the funeral.
29. “In loving memory.”
This short, simple phrase can accompany a gift of a plant or flower arrangement.
30. “Sending love.”
Here’s another closing to include before the signature.
31. “Your mother was an amazing woman. She will be missed.”
Here’s an example of what to write on a card if you are sending the flower arrangement to the child of the deceased.
32. “The world lost a beautiful soul. Sending our most heartfelt condolences.”
For some reason that isn’t abundantly clear, the word “condolence” is often used in plural form.
Religious Sympathy Messages for the Loss of a Mother
Some people are very open in their religious beliefs. If you share the same ideas, consider sending the family a spiritual note of condolence.
33. “She is in a better place.”
Most etiquette guides say to avoid using this phrase at funerals. However, if you know the family’s religious beliefs, this phrase will give them peace and reassurance.
34. “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
This verse from Numbers is often used in benedictory prayers.
35. “Praying God’s light shines upon you.”
Your friend may feel as if they are in a dark place.
36. “May God comfort you among the mourners for Zion and Jerusalem.”
Jewish websites report that this is what believers state whenever one departs from a mourner during the week of mourning.
37. “May Allah give them an easy and pleasant journey and shower blessings on their grave.”
Here’s a message of sympathy for a Muslim family.
38. “I am praying for you.”
If you promise prayers, follow through with them.
39. “You must be happy knowing your mom and dad are together again.”
Those who believe in the afterlife take comfort knowing that they will be reunified with their family members someday.
Sympathy Messages for the Loss of a Mother-in-Law
There may be a situation that requires you to send a sympathy message to someone who lost their mother-in-law. Even if the person in question had a tenuous relationship with their mother-in-law (or mother), it’s best not to bring that up during such moments.
When attending a funeral or sending a formal message of condolence, it’s best to work under the assumption that the person is sad about the loss.
40. “I’m sorry. I know how much Dorothy meant to you.”
Some people feel closer to their in-laws than they do to their parents.
41. “You always spoke kindly of your mother-in-law. It sounds as if she was a wonderful woman. I’m sorry for your loss.”
Most choose to emphasize the positive parts of a relationship when offering sympathy.
42. “I’m sorry your children lost their grandmother.”
Perhaps you are speaking to someone who lost their ex-mother-in-law. Here’s a way to handle that situation.
43. “Losing a family member is never easy.”
Here’s a generic statement that covers any type of loss.
44. “I know you are heartbroken about the loss of your mother-in-law. Give an extra hug to (your spouse) from me.”
The deceased’s child may be struggling more than the in-law of the deceased.
Sympathy Messages for the Loss of a Stepmother
It’s appropriate to offer sympathy to anyone who loses a member of their household or family. Did your friend lose their step-mother? Here’s what to say.
45. “My heart goes out to you and your family.”
This generic expression of sympathy could work for any situation.
46. “This is a shocking tragedy. Please know you are in my thoughts.”
Some people feel comfortable referring to the cause of death when offering messages of sympathy.
47. “We are all supporting you.”
Here’s an example of how to send a message from a group.
48. “I know you had a complicated relationship with Denise in the past, but she died knowing that you loved her.”
If you feel close enough to the situation to offer reassurances, they are typically welcomed.
49. “Please extend my sympathies to your dad and step-brother.”
Did your friend not get along with their step-mother? Then extend sympathies to the rest of the family.
Expressing True Sympathy for the Loss of a Mother
It can be hard to make one’s condolences fit the intensity of the situation, especially when someone you love has lost their mother. Rather than trying to say enough, try to say something that the person needs or wants to hear. If you aren’t sure, being a presence, responding when asked questions, or just listening may be the best ways to support your friend or family member.
One long-term way to support or care for your loved one is to be extra kind to them during the time surrounding a death anniversary. Our culture sometimes expects for grief to pass and then stay away forever, but in reality, grief may fade, but remains a part of most of us long-term. Acknowledging it and accepting it can create comfort and a bond between you.
If you're still looking for ways to express your sympathy beyond words, consider sending your loved one an item from our list of sympathy gift ideas for someone who lost a mother.