Sometimes we are at a loss regarding what to say when a friend, colleague or family member has passed away.  Here are a few helpful tips.

  • Talk about the person who passed away, don’t avoid doing this, although you may be uncomfortable at first.  Use their name, let your friend or family member know that you think about their loved one and have not forgotten about them.
  • Don’t ask what you can do to help. Be proactive and be prepared to offer something specific. For example: “I am going to the grocery store. Please give me your list and I’ll pick up your groceries too.” Or, “I would like to bring you dinner this week.” Or, “I can drive your child to practice this week.”
  • Remember that you can’t take away their pain so the most important thing you can do is make them feel understood and loved. Saying something like: “While there is nothing I can do to change things, I want you to know that I am here for you and you have my love and support.” This shows them that there is meaning behind your words instead of some of the clichés that we typically rely on.
  • Sometimes though, it is not about saying anything. It is about giving them a hug or holding their hand. It is about having the ability to sit with them in silence or just listen. That can be uncomfortable but sometimes it is just what they need.
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