What to Say When Someone Dies: Expressing Empathy

We’ve all been in that situation where a close friend, neighbor, or relative just lost someone they cherish and are in a state of emotional imbalance. Times like this call for support, and the most appropriate permission is a hug accompanied by the correct words.

However, if you’re not used to such scenarios, you may find yourself making the situation awkward or possibly angering the grieving individual. So, how do you soothe a mourning individual? Is there a way to show empathy?

Fortunately, this article will present some tips to help deal with such issues and help you say the right things during such an event.

1. Acknowledge their Pain

The feeling of losing someone dear is almost indescribable, and you can help reduce the hurt by acknowledging its existence. The simple act of affirming someone’s pain makes them feel supported and understood, which is something everyone craves in that position.

People going through such a struggle want to be heard and have their current emotions acknowledged as complex and heavy. Start by saying words like:

  • I’m sorry this happened
  • This must be rough for you
  • This sucks, truly

Make sure you are genuinely expressing these feelings because a week and dry delivery might anger the recipient.

2. Share your Feelings

If you find yourself short of soothing words to ease your grieving friend or relative, admit this fact to them in the most empathetic way possible. Imagining how someone’s unfortunate situation feels and saying the wrong sentence to calm their discomfort may trigger feelings of loneliness.

While you proceed to express yourself in the best way possible, ensure not to diminish the person’s experience by making the situation about you. Your primary focus is to connect with the individual and help them through the ordeal.

Here are a few examples to help you express yourself in such situations:

  • This is awful; I don’t even know what to say.
  • I can’t imagine what you’re going through
  • This hurts my heart
  • My heart hurts because of this

3. Show Interest

Alleviate their feelings of loneliness and isolation by showing interest in their difficulties because people in such emotionally heavy positions desire nothing more than a connection with someone.

They want someone to understand their pain and take an interest in their feelings, and the best way to accomplish this goal is not by talking but by listening. Begin by asking questions and listen attentively to everything they say.

Some examples of this tip are:

  • How are you feeling?
  • I hear you’re feeling____. Do you want to talk about it?
  • Would you like to share anything else? I’m here.

4. Appreciate their Openness

Being able to open oneself during such emotionally trying times is difficult, as some people don’t want to talk during such a period. Their lack of conversation is due to the fear of them not receiving proper empathy and response.

If they finally decide to open up and express themselves, encourage and appreciate the gesture because the expression indicates they trust and enjoy your time, effort, and love. Make this acknowledgment obvious verbally, let them know you hear them, and proceed with more information.

Here are some examples of executing this step:

  • I’m happy you told me
  • I’m glad you trusted me with this information. It means a lot to me.
  • Saying this must have been not easy. I’m so happy you did.

5. Lend a Hand

Words can make or break a person, but verbal encouragement isn’t the only step in calming the mind of a grieving individual; therefore, consider offering assistance in the best way you can. You can be supportive by helping mow the lawn, doing the laundry, cleaning the house, or merely sending flowers or a handwritten note.

Even if they decline the offer, the mere suggestion will make them feel loved and supported and possibly assist them in the healing process. However, if you need examples on how to execute this phase, here they are:

  • How can I help?
  • I’m always here if you need me
  • Can I help you do ____?

Bonus: Empathy has no Script

Death is an inevitable fact in our reality, and our response depends on the individual and our relationship with them. However, genuine empathy depends on how you listen and are available instead of what you say.

We hope the examples in this article give you a foundation for expressing your sympathy.

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