If you are supporting someone who is going through grief and loss, it can feel intimidating to know the right words to say to help comfort and bring support to your friend. In order to help you with ideas and thoughts, we have put together 15 words of comfort for a friend.
How do you comfort someone using words?
Our culture struggles with openly accepting and acknowledging the complex set of emotions that accompany grief. If you are struggling with knowing how to support someone in grief, you are not alone. Even people who themselves have gone through difficult losses sometimes struggle with knowing what words of comfort to say. Before you embark on a journey to support a grieving person, there are a few key principles of grief that you need to understand.
1. You do not need to make sense of their loss
It can be very tempting to try and make sense of someone’s loss. It makes sense! When people we love are in pain, it is only natural that we want to do something to ease that discomfort. The reality is, however, that sometimes trying to make sense of someone’s loss, actually makes them feel like you are trying to diminish their loss. There are many types of pain in life that do not make sense, and that feeling can be especially acute in the first few years after the loss. So even though it might be tempting to use phrases that try to make sense of loss, it is better to avoid that line of thought.
2. Grief is not on a timeline
While many people accept that acute grief in the first few weeks after loss is common, the reality is that the grieving process is oftentimes not linear and is not confined to a timeline. If you find that someone’s grief is lasting longer than you expected, or seems to grow more and less intense at different times throughout the year, this is totally normal. Many grievers share that their grief intensifies after three months when the permanence of loss sets in, and that the second year for many is harder than the first. It is totally normal for the grieving process to last many years, and there is never any timeline that should be imposed on a grieving person.
As Healthline shares, “Grief is also very personal. It’s not very neat or linear. It doesn’t follow any timelines or schedules. You may cry, become angry, withdraw, feel empty. None of these things are unusual or wrong. Everyone grieves differently.”
The hardest thing about grief is that it comes with no schedule. Most of the time it’s a quiet hum always in the background. But every so often it heightens to a loud crash interrupting your day, emotions and balance. There is nothing convenient about grief.— Debra Chosen (@DebraChosen) April 26, 2022
3. No two losses are the same
Loss is a very unique experience for everyone, and no two experiences are identical. It can be tempting to compare something you have gone through in the past with your friend’s current loss. And while there are some times when that is an appropriate thing to bring up, it is important to remember that no two losses are the same. Avoid comparison or anything that might feel like it minimizes your friend’s loss.
What are the best words of comfort for a friend?
When you are talking to someone who is going through grief, sometimes the best words are the most simple. Talking about pain and loss is uncomfortable, and it is only human nature that we want to fill the silence with words. Oftentimes, people feel very awkward talking to a bereaved person, and it is common to feel a pressure to know all the exact phrases and words to say. But the reality is, that after a huge loss, there are no perfect words to make the pain go away. It can help to remember that you are not able to make their pain go away, but you can help them feel less alone in that pain. With that information in mind, these are some great Words of comfort for a friend.
Comforting words acknowledge their loss
One of the best things you can do to comfort someone grieving is to acknowledge their loss. When you acknowledge that someone is in pain, you remind them that they are not alone and that they are loved. It is truly one of the most comforting things you can do for them, and is the bedrock of any good grief support.
The grief you feel shows you how much you cared.— թալին ♱ (@tvl33n) May 18, 2022
That’s a beautiful thing.
Comforting words use their loved one’s name
Comforting words require you to listen
Comforting words express your tenderness for them and do not center yourself
When you are talking to a friend in grief, it is also important to show your empathy for what they have experienced without making the interaction about you. One of the best articles on this subject is called How not to say the wrong thing. The main premise of the article is that whenever you are talking with someone closer to grief, provide comfort. When you are talking to people further from the loss, you can express your own personal feelings or need for support.
“When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you’re going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn’t, don’t say it.”
Comforting words give them permission to grieve on their own timeline
When you support a grieving friend, be sure to give them permission to be where they are emotionally and take the time they need in their grief. Grief is unpredictable, and it can help if you share with your friend that you have no expectations on your friendship.
What do you say to a friend going through a hard time?
If you are feeling stuck and need some specific phrases, here are 10 great things to say.
- I am so very sorry for your loss. This is a really heartbreaking thing that you have to go through.
- It makes sense to me that you might be feeling really down right now. This is really, really hard. I’m here for you.
- I’ll be here for you no matter what your grief looks like.
- There really are not words big enough to express how much tenderness I have for you right now. I hope you know I’m thinking of you and I know this is so hard.
- Take as much time to grieve as you need.
- You were a great daughter/son/mother/father/relative/friend to them. They loved you so much, and it was so evident watching you that you loved them so deeply.
- You are allowed to show up exactly as you are, no matter what that looks like.
- I don’t know what to say, but I can listen.
- This sucks. How can this be?
- I have dinner ready for you. I’ll drop it off tonight. You deserve not to cook after all you’ve been through.
What do you write to comfort a friend?
Writing cards can also feel really intimidating. With the work we do here at laurelbox, each order includes a complimentary card with the sender’s gift message. This means I have the honor of seeing so many special notes written from one friend to another. Here are a few of my favorite cards for specific situations.
Card for loss of child
Card for Loss of Parent
Card for holiday or milestone date
If you have more questions about what to write in your card, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always here to help you craft meaningful cards.
What to text someone going through a hard time?
Texting emotional support is a great way to gently let your friend know you are thinking of them. A few are my favorite ways to reach out:
- I know today might be a really hard day for you. I’m thinking about you right now.
- What you’ve had to go through is so hard. You’re never far from my thoughts.
- Not sure how you’re feeling today, but I’m here for you. Would it help to talk?
- Just wanted to send you this favorite photo of me with your loved one. Look at the look on our faces! Time with them was such a gift. (Attach a photo with this text!)
- I know this is such a hard time for you. Thinking about you.
What are some uplifting quotes?
“Be the things you loved the most about the people who are gone.” – Unknown
“The broken will always be able to love harder than most. Once you have been in the dark, you learn to appreciate everything that shines.” – Zachary Douglas
“Be gentle on yourself. You are doing the best you can.” – Unknown
“When you can’t look on the bright side, I will sit with you in the dark.” –Alice in Wonderland
“Only the broken will offer a piece of their soul to you, for they know what it feels like being shattered into pieces.” – Sulekha Pande
“I never say I understand, because I can’t. But I can be there with her and I can sit in the mud with her.” – Denise Wolfe on the Joyful Morning Podcast
We hope this article is a helpful resource for you as you work to support grieving friends and family!