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What to say when someone dies May 31, 2023

When somebody dies it can be difficult to know what to say. When it’s someone really close to the person, it’s often difficult to know how to approach it or what to start the conversation with.

Here are some different ways to address these potentially awkward moments.

1. Acknowledge the person’s death

Don’t be afraid to talk about what actually happened – you can’t change the events. You could begin with something like: ‘I’m sorry to hear about xxxx – how awful’.

2. Be empathetic

Don’t try and ‘outdo’ their grief. It’s best to say ‘I can’t imagine how it feels for you,’ as everybody deals with grief in a unique way.

3. Be specific

People who have been dealt with loss are often asked regularly ‘how are you?’. But it’s better to try and be specific, such as: ‘How are you coping? What are your days like?’ ‘How do you feel when you wake up?’ ‘Have you got enough support?’

4. Talk about the person who died

Don’t be afraid to talk about the person that died. Sharing memories can be cathartic and saying things like ‘they were so funny’, or ‘I remember this event…’ can open up an opportunity for them to talk.

5. Express your own sadness

It’s fine to say that you are also sad. But don’t try and ‘outdo’ the person’s sadness – they are likely to be much closer to the deceased and will feel the pain more sharply.

6. Accept anger

People can be angry following a death, but don’t let that hold you back. If a person is grieving after someone dies don’t try and explain or fix something that’s been taken badly. Just say sorry.

7. Keep in touch

Keep in touch with those that have lost loved ones, as after a funeral they can often lose touch with people. This can leave people feeling very isolated. Asking them ‘what’s life like now?’ and ‘how are you coping?’ can be really helpful.

8. Break your fear of upsetting someone

People can be scared of upsetting others during their time of grief. The person who has been bereaved already is upset and, as long as you try to be empathetic and sensitive, it is better to say something rather than keep your distance.

9. Remember there’s no time-limit on grief

Composure after someone has died doesn’t necessarily mean someone’s ‘doing well’ or coping. It is important to ask them if they feel that they are coping. Asking them lets them have an opportunity to tell you about things that they might be struggling with.

10. Take risks

Sometimes it is hard for a bereaved person to say what they need after someone dies. Try and understand what the need and what they want to talk about, as often it will be a release for them.

What should I say when someone dies unexpectedly?

If someone dies unexpectedly, especially in traumatic circumstances, such as an accident, it can be even more difficult to know what to say to their loved ones. There is no specific rule book but just act as a support and a shoulder to cry on if needed.

What is the best condolence message?

Leaving a message of condolence might be better if you are very unsure of what to say to them, because you can practise and edit your message. It also lets the bereaved person read it in their own time.

If you would like to speak to our team regarding funeral arrangements for yourself or your loved one in the Ripley or Crich areas of Derbyshire, please do not hesitate to contact us. Call us on 01773 749028 or contact us here.

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