It’s challenging knowing what to say to a person who lost someone dear to them. You want to acknowledge the person’s pain, but you don’t want to use trite or overused phrases.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Sympathy Message for a Close Friend
- Sympathy Message for a Family Member
- Sympathy Message for an Acquaintance or Colleague
You want to ask the person how he is feeling, but you know that he is suffering and grieving. It’s no wonder that so many people say, “I’m sorry for your loss” when faced with this situation.
The sad truth is that there are no magic words to take the pain away from your friend.
Here are some messages you may consider using for a person who recently lost a sister. They differ in tone, depending upon the closeness of your relationship.
Tip: One of the hardest things to do after losing a close loved one is sorting through their financial, legal, and personal affairs. Our post-loss checklist can help someone who's lost a sister work through it all.
Sympathy Message for a Close Friend
Do you have a close friend who recently lost a sister? No matter if the woman who passed was young or old, or whether the death was expected or not, your friend is probably suffering deeply. Here are some messages of condolences to say to your friend. You may also choose to write these statements on a sympathy card like this as well.
1. I don’t know what to say.
Honesty is often the best approach. Tell your friend that you are at a loss for words. Your friend will understand because they probably don't know what to say to you in return either. If you're struggling to find the right thing to say, consider sending flowers, giving a sympathy gift basket, or putting together a care package for some comfort instead.
2. I’m so heartbroken over your loss. You and your family must feel devastated right now. I’m so sorry.
Don’t try to look on the bright side of things when someone dies. Most of the time, the family feels devastated and heartbroken when a family member dies.
3. I know that you are heartbroken right now by the loss of your sister. I’m going to bring over a tray of sandwiches for you to share with the rest of your family tonight. I love you!
Acknowledge how your friend must be feeling. Do something to help. Tell your friend how you feel.
4. I can’t imagine the pain you must be feeling right now. Please know that I am here for you whenever you need me.
The best sympathy messages are those that come from the heart. Even if your friend may have enormous support right now, she may not have any on the death anniversary of her sister. You will be needed at some point, but it may be days, weeks, months, or years from now.
5. I’m sorry you are going through this. It’s not fair.
If your friend’s sister died too young, your friend might feel angry or like they have been cheated out of the time that everyone else seems to get. Acknowledge these feelings.
6. I’ve been praying for you and your family.
If your friend is a spiritual person, they will appreciate your prayers. You may pray for comfort for all involved.
7. What can I do for you right now?
If you have a close friend who is grieving, there must be something that you can do to help. Offer to bring food, pick up family members at the airport, or drive kids to soccer practice.
8. Tell me about your sister.
While you don’t want to make your friend cry intentionally, you shouldn’t avoid the topic of her sister’s death. She may want to share her favorite memories of her sister with you. Perhaps your friend needs someone to work through complicated emotions.
Sympathy Message for a Family Member
If you recently lost a family member, your entire extended family may be suffering. Here are some things to say to your parents, siblings, in-laws, nieces, and nephews who may be suffering from the recent death.
9. I’m glad we have each other to lean on right now.
Most families, even if they are not particularly close, come together to support each other during difficult times. Remind your parents and siblings of this if your family recently suffered a loss.
10. It’s difficult to imagine life without her.
The other people in your family will understand how difficult life will be without the one you love. Acknowledge those feelings and talk about them with others who understand.
11. We were lucky to have such a fantastic person in our lives. Do you remember when...
Share stories about the one you lost. Talk about what the deceased was like as a kid. Remind each other of the funny stories as well as the more poignant moments in the relationship. Keep her memory alive by continuing to talk about her for years to come.
12. Are you ok?
Ask others in your family how they are doing. They may be experiencing complicated emotions, especially if they are young. They may feel anger as well as sadness. Maybe they are experiencing fear as well as grief. Let your family members discuss their complicated feelings without judging them for having them.
13. I’m glad we are all together.
Has it been months or years since your family has been all together? Even though you may all be suffering the loss of someone in the family, acknowledge the comfort you may all be feeling at being together.
14. I know this loss will be particularly hard on you. Please turn to me when you need someone to listen.
Perhaps not every person in the family will be affected the same way by the death of a loved one. Some will suffer more than others. Acknowledge this and offer support to the people who suffer the most.
15. I’m here for you, no matter what.
Make sure that your family knows that you are there to support them.
16. I love you.
Don’t wait until it is too late to tell others how you feel about them. Tell people that you love them every chance you get.
Sympathy Message for an Acquaintance or Colleague
There are times when you need to express sympathy to someone who isn’t in your inner circle of friends or family. Here are some ideas of things to say to an acquaintance or a colleague who recently lost a sister.
17. I’m so sorry to hear about your sister.
This message is a lovely, succinct way to express compassion that is an alternative to the ever-present, “I’m sorry for your loss.”
18. Please accept my heartfelt condolences on the death of your sister. It’s such a tragedy when someone dies so young.
Pay attention to the details when you are expressing sympathy to someone you don’t know well. Knowing that the person lost a sister as opposed to a mother makes the message seem a little more heartfelt than usual.
19. I hope your beautiful memories of your sister help you through this difficult time.
When you lose someone, all you have are the memories.
20. I recently heard about the loss of your sister. Please know that I am praying for you and the rest of your family.
When you say that you are praying for others, make sure you follow up on your promise.
21. Please accept my sympathies on the death of your sister. I’m sorry you have to go through this heartbreaking tragedy.
Although this message is somewhat formal, it is the appropriate tone to share with a person you don’t know well.
22. I’m praying for comfort for you and your extended family during this difficult time.
Try not to pray for an “end of grief.” Grief isn’t a bad thing. It’s the result of losing someone you love.
23. I’ve been thinking about you! I was so sad to hear about the death of your sister. I know you must be devastated.
Sometimes people use flowery words, such as condolences or sympathy, when talking about death. Sometimes it is refreshing to hear someone speak plainly.
24. Losing a sibling is extremely difficult. I am so sorry for your loss.
Perhaps you have lost a brother or a sister, and you know how much your acquaintance or coworker may be suffering. Even if you have that connection, be careful to focus on the other person’s loss and not your own.
25. I know you are going through a tough time right now. Even though we aren’t close, I am happy to help you out with any of your projects at work.
Your coworker may be having a difficult time keeping up with work right now. If you can take on some of the responsibilities, offer help to your coworker.
Knowing What to Say
What do you say to someone who has lost a sister? We hope we have given you a few ideas.
While thinking about your words, you may also want to research what not to say to someone who recently suffered a loss. Avoid phrases like, “it was God’s plan,” “I’m sure you must be relieved,” or “you’ll get over it.” Also, don’t act like everything is fine or ignore the person’s grief.
Be sincere. Acknowledge the person’s suffering. Make specific offers to help the person. Tell the person in mourning that you care about them and are thinking about them. And know that your words, although they may offer some comfort, can not and should not take the grief away.