7 Things to Say When Someone Dies

Having the right words of encouragement at a funeral can be hard for many. It’s beneficial to think before we speak. During moments of grief, friends and loved ones don’t want perfect words from us. They want our love and support. Be there for themthink before you speakbe compassionate – grief is different for everyone.

Words of Encouragement: 7 Things to Say When Someone Dies

My stomach was in my throat, not because of fear, nor the looming rain clouds swirling overhead. Every time I take these same steps, my stomach makes its way up. It settles back down once I lift my eyes to scan the foyer for familiar faces when I step through the door. Thankfully, my husband entered the building before I did, so our eyes met as I opened the door.

Turning the doorknob means we received a phone call. The phone call that brings us together for this one occasion, a call that makes my nerves run wild. Yes, I’m an introvert. Yes, I’m one who doesn’t like crowds, gathering, and don’t get me started on small talk. And there will be a lot of small talk between those who walk through the door.

It doesn’t matter who is on the other side of the door waiting. It is a visit I dread. On this day, I was there to show my love and support to my sister-in-law, the children, and those closely related. A relationship with some that seemed brittle.

The relationship has been strained for years and I feel Eeyore’s cloud is looming above, any time we are together. My husband stepped away from the beliefs of his family. His mother knew, and while she was raised in different traditions of the church, she knew and she understood. Some siblings knew, and they understood. But then there were the three who didn’t.

Strained relationships are hard. Going to a funeral for a loved one at the helm of the strain is a lot harder. You want to be an encouragement, but yet, you don’t want to be as the looming cloud when you walk into the room.

Having the right words of encouragement for a funeral can be hard for many. I know, I’m one! I never know what to say and I don’t want to say anything that could hurt the bereaved. It’s beneficial to think before we speak.


Things to Say When Someone Dies

  • I love you.
  • I’m praying for you.
  • I will bring dinner by, is Tuesday ok? Give a definite plan of action.
  • I’m sorry for your loss.
  • Many loved Malcolm, we will miss him.
  • My favorite memory of your Grandfather was when he took us kids fishing.
  • I’d like to take the children to the park on Friday, so you can complete any paperwork or necessary things.

Simple things are more meaningful than a long dialogue. Keep is short and sweet.

What Not to Say When Someone Dies

  • He earned his angel wings. How is that comforting?
  • He’s watching over you. If he is in Heaven, he does not care about what is going on down here.
  • God has a reason for everything. Yes, He does, but now is not the time for this reminder.
  • He is in a better place. If you don’t know for a fact of someone’s relationship with Jesus – don’t say this!
  • I know how you feel. Everyone’s grief level is different. Yes, you know what it is like, but their grief is new and heavier than what yours is.
  • It will get easier. Yes, grieving gets easier each day, but they want you to acknowledge the pain.
  • At least they lived a long life. They may have, but it doesn’t make the death any easier to accept.

On this day, I said nothing until after the short prayer at the cemetery. I waited throughout the visitation hours and the funeral before I said anything. I wanted to be in-tuned with the attitude of everyone; myself included. I told my sister-in-law, “we are praying for you” and I asked her if she would allow me to pray for her right then because I wanted her to know I meant it.

During moments of grief, friends and loved ones don’t want perfect words from us. They want our love and support. Be there for them, think before you speak, be compassionate – grief is different for everyone.
Words of Encouragement: 7 Things to Say When Someone Dies


  1. Lori, my stomach was in my throat reading this. I know exactly how you feel. I don't want to come across as a know it all, but I don't want to look stupid either. Think before you speak - great advice!

    1. Stupidity is what scares me the most, Denise. I'd rather not say anything at all then to say the wrong thing.


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