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.
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
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.
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.