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Words of Comfort

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what to say to someone in hospice

When someone you know has to go into a hospice it can be a scary and upsetting time. Sadly a hospice is where those who are terminally ill are looked after, which means they won’t be coming home.

That means you’re talking to someone who is coming to the end of their life. Knowing the right things to say (and not to say) in this situation can be hard.

How can you expect to find the right words for someone who is severely ill and near death. What could you possibly say to them that would be helpful or comforting.

It’s really difficult and if you’re struggling or worried then you won’t be alone. Anxiety about causing offence, upset or just the entire situation being uncomfortable and awkward is common.

So if you need some help with what to say then there are a few things that will always be acceptable and comforting.

Follow the guide here to find the right words to comfort someone who is in a hospice.

For more help and support for those grieving a loss we consulted 25 grief and loss professionals for their best advice, and the tips and advice we got is extremely helpful.

What to say to Someone in a Hospice

If you are looking for examples of a few words or sentences to comfort those in a hospice, who’s family member has entered a hospice or for a card then these short messages should help.

  • I don’t want to say goodbye. Nothing will hurt as much as letting you go but I’m grateful for all the wonderful moments we shared together. I love you so much
  • Thank you for everything. For your warmth, your spirit, and for always loving me. I love you
  • I can’t find the words and don’t know what to say other than I love you and can’t bear to think of a world without you
  • I will be praying you find some peace and comfort. You are so loved
  • I can’t express how important you have been to me and how much I am grateful to have had you in my life. Thank you for being you
  • We will miss you more than we could ever hope to express, but we don’t want you to worry. Even though it’s so hard now we will find a way to get through
  • The thought of losing you is something I can’t begin to accept, but I am glad that you are surrounded by family and being cared for to make your struggle less hard
  • You’ve achieved so much and brought joy to the lives of others. You should be proud of everything you’ve done and I know I am thankful to have had you in my life
  • I won’t ever forget you or what you brought to my life. You have been the most amazing friend and there won’t be a day that goes by when I don’t think of you
  • I only hope you are being made more comfortable. Whatever helps you to be able to enjoy the most of the time with your family and loved ones

hospice message words of comfort

For a more thorough look and what and how to say it and what not to say then read on.

I Love You

Saying “I love you” is the most powerful and touching thing you can say to a family member, friend, or anyone. In the situation where they are dying it is going to have a greater impact than ever.

They will understand that you mean it with all your heart, and considering the circumstances it will take on more meaning than before. This is doubly true for those who don’t say “I love you” very often.

If you aren’t the type of person or family who expresses their emotions regularly then this is time to do so. They will appreciate that it’s not easy for you and will treasure you showing how much they mean to you.


  • I love you more than I could hope to say
  • My heart breaks at the thought of losing you but I am grateful for all the time we had
  • My love for you will never die. You will always be in my heart
  • I love you mom/dad. Thank you for everything

Thank You

Expressing your gratitude for all that someone has done for you or how important they’ve been in your life is a lovely way to talk to them in a hospice.

We often want to thank those people who are most special to us. Be that a family member or a friend.

So when you’re talking to someone in a hospice you can says thanks for al the things you appreciate that they did for you and brought to your life.

  • Thank you for just being you. That’s all I ever needed
  • My gratitude for everything you have done is beyond measure. I feel so lucky to have had you as a part of my life
  • My life has been better because of having you in it. Thank you
  • Thank you for being the best mom/dad in the world

We Will be Alright

We may forget that those facing up to their own mortality and death will worry about those they are leaving behind. It can be upsetting and stressful to think of how your family may cope once you’re gone.

So you should try to make it clear that you and others will be okay. This may seem counterintuitive and the opposite of how you’re feeling. Losing a loved one is going to cause you pain and mean you may not cope.

But it’s important for them to know you’ll be okay and so regardless of how you truly feel try to say how you will take care of family and keep everything going.

  • Though losing you will be the hardest thing we’ve ever gone through we promise to make sure we find a way to cope
  • Please don’t worry about me. I will be okay, just focus on yourself
  • With time we will find our way through the grief. You will be missed greater than you will ever know but we guarantee we will be alright
  • We will be there for your family. They will have us to lean on and find support

You have so Much to be Proud of

When someone is facing death they may be looking back on their life and thinking about everything they did. It can be heartening to hear from friends and family about the positive things they’ve achieved.

Be that their personal or professional accomplishments. Everyone wants to feel like their life was important or they made a difference. So talk about the positive impact they had on your or others lives, the joy they brought and the lasting legacy they will leave behind.

  • You should be proud of your life and all you’ve achieved. Your legacy is assured as one of love and kindness
  • The good things you’ve done far outweigh the bad and there are countless people who feel touched by your presence
  • I am honored to have had you as a friend and will miss you more than I can express. The memories we made will live on forever in my heart
  • Some people just bring such positivity and happiness to the world. You are one of them. You have enriched so many lives and should be proud of how many people will feel lucky to have known you

Something Funny

Even though a hospice is a place of sadness those dying don’t want to spend their final moments in total misery. Humor will still be important to them and being able to laugh even near the end is going to be helpful.

So whilst it may feel awkward or wrong you should try to inject some fun or humor into the situation if you can. Bringing some light amongst the darkness is only going to be appreciated.

  • If you wanted to get off work there are easier ways than this!
  • People who think laughter is the best medicine have apparently never had morphine
  • Laughter is the best medicine, or gin… I’ll try to sneak you some in!

For the Family

Don’t forget about the family of those in the hospice. They will be finding this time incredibly hard and will appreciate you reaching out to them with any support or help you can. Even a few kinds words will be better than nothing.

  • If there’s anything I can do to help please don’t think twice about asking. Sending my love during such a difficult time
  • It is cruel what you’re having to go through and I am praying for you and your family
  • In times like this it’s important to remember you aren’t superman. You ca t expect to do everything. Lean on the friends and family you have around you for support – they will be there to help
  • You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers as you face such a terrible challenge

what to say in a hospice message

What NOT to Say to Someone in a Hospice

Heres what you should avoid saying to those in a hospice:

  • Everything happens for a reason – this is both a horrible cliche and very inappropriate for someone facing death. The implication by saying this is that they have done something to cause their own death or deserve it. It could be very upsetting, so don’t say this.
  • Don’t give in – after what may have been years of fighting you should respect their decision to stop. You can’t understand how hard it may have been and are in no position to ask them to continue doing so.
  • I’m still wishing for a miracle – they have accepted the inevitable and it’s probably for the best you do too. You can keep praying and hooking but when talking to them it’s best to keep it to yourself.
  • This is part of God’s plan – if they aren’t religious or don’t have a strong faith then this should absolutely be avoided. But even those who do have faith may be struggling to come to terms with the end of their life. Being told it’s part of a plan they can’t understand won’t be comforting.

What to Write in a Card for Someone in Hospice

If you can’t see whoever it is in hospice in person then a card with a message is acceptable.

These are some ideas of what to write in a hospice card:

  • I hope you’re having a good day and I am sending my love at such a difficult time
  • My prayers are only for you. I hope you know how much we all/I love you
  • No one has been more important to me than you. I will forever be grateful to have known and had you as part of my life
  • You should be proud of all you’ve achieved. Your family, your career, the role model you’ve been. Thank you for being such a wonderful person
  • I send you my love and my prayers. I hope you and your family are spending as much time as you can together and you are being made comfortable. All my love

For more ideas try our sympathy messages, condolence message examples or guide for what to write in a sympathy card. Writing a letter is also popular and we have lots of example sympathy letters.


Finding the words to say to someone in a hospice is always going to be tough. You will probably feel awkward and uncomfortable whatever you say as it’s such a hard situation.

But you should be making the effort to reach out and talk to a friend or loved one who has entered a hospice. They will want and need those closest to them at such a difficult time and appreciate you no matter what you say. Just being there is the most important thing.

what to say to someone in hospice

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What to say when someone dies

It can be extremely difficult to know what to say when someone dies. Understandably we want to say the right thing. That means something comforting, helpful, and that doesn’t cause any more upset or hurt.

But what exactly are the “right” words, or the best thing to say when someone has died?

As we don’t like to discuss death it means our reaction to it is often awkward. We find dealing with loss hard, especially when we are trying to comfort someone.

Add to that the fact there is no formula or exact science to loss. The way each individual grieves is different. And what they want or need most from friends and family will differ too.

So what we write or say when someone dies should take into account the bereaved, the circumstances of their loss, the type of person they are, and so forth.

There are some tried and tested things you can say that should be of help and comfort though, regardless of the situation.

Follow the examples and guide here to help you find the ideal way to comfort someone who has experienced a loss.

For further reading on how to support someone grieving we asked 25 grief and loss professionals for their best advice, which had some fantastic tips and ideas. If someone has passed away out of tut blue turn see our guide on what to say when someone dies unexpectedly.

What to Say When Someone Dies

If you just want some examples of comforting words to say when someone dies then these short messages are ideal.

  • I am so sorry to hear of your loss
  • I can be there to talk if you need me. Please don’t hesitate to ask/call
  • I know no words can ease your pain but please know I’m thinking of you. I’m so terribly sorry
  • I wish there was more I could do. All I can say is how sorry I am
  • I was so sorry to hear of ______’s passing. They were a special person and will be sorely missed
  • I can’t imagine how difficult this must be. I just wanted to offer my condolences and let you know I can be there for you if you need me
  • I will miss ______ terribly. They had such an amazing spirit. All my love to you
  • No matter the time or place we will be there for you. You are in our thoughts and prayers, always
  • I was deeply affected when I heard of your loss. Please reach out if you are struggling
  • We were so shocked to hear of ______’s passing. We will do all we can to help you get through this

For a more in depth guide of what to say, how to say it and why, as well as what to avoid saying, then keep reading.

Make an Effort

That means actually doing something. Even if you’re worried it’s the wrong thing, don’t leave those mourning in loneliness during such a hard time.

It doesn’t have to be anything special – just reach out. A phone call or text message just to see how they are. Maybe an email. Send a card or gift if you think it’s appropriate.

But try to acknowledge their loss and make it known you’re thinking of them. You’d be surprised how much such a small gesture can help.

Offer Support (if you can)

When someone is grieving they often do so in silence or without making a fuss. But one of the things they need more than anything is support. That can be just knowing friends or family are there and thinking of them (as mentioned above). But also having those closest to them doing things to help.

If you can then offering to run some errands can be a huge help to the bereaved. Maybe do the grocery shopping, pick up their children from school, clean around the house. Small things that they may not feel up to whilst dealing with their grief but are uncomfortable to speak out about.

When grieving it’s easy to feel like you might become a burden. That’s why those bereaved often stay quiet. So the emphasis is on you to ask if they need or would like any help.

Remember to only offer assistance if you can truly follow through with it. The last thing they will want is someone flaky not helping when they promised to do so.


Whilst this guide is about what to say, it’s incredibly important to remember to listen as well.

Losing someone special from your life will be devastating. All sort of thoughts and emotions will arise because of it, and whilst it can absolutely be beneficial to hear from others experience and know you’re not alone, sometimes it helps to talk about your own situation.

Getting the way you’re feeling off your chest, talking about your emotions, how you’re coping, your fears etc. All of that is necessary when going through a grieving process. And that means having someone to listen.

So just being there for and listening to the bereaved, rather than having anything specifically to say, is one of the best things you can do.

Talk About your Own Experiences

This was touched upon when talking about how important listening is. That’s remains true, and you should prioritise listening to the bereaved above talking, but it can also benefit those suffering a loss to hear how others got through a similar bereavement.

You should avoid comparing deaths though. Each loss is different and unique. Keep it fairly general and maybe focus on how you coped and what helped. Don’t push anything onto them but offering some ideas, or just being an example of how it does get better may be of use.

Remember the Deceased

Sharing memories of the passed loved one might seem inappropriate but done in the correct way it can be a lovely way to remember them.

Keep it positive and light – maybe a funny anecdote or moment that you had with them. Anything that shines a light on the type of person they were and the good memories you had of them.

Keep in Touch

Don’t offer your condolences, see them once and then forget about them. Healing after a loss can take a long time and having people around you throughout that time is vital for most of us. So seeing friends drop away or forget you’re still grieving can be really hard to deal with.

That’s why you should maintain your support and check in at regular intervals to make sure they’re doing ok. Anniversaries and big holidays can be especially tough so having support then is essential. Try to make an effort to stay in touch during these difficult moments.

Message to say when someone dies

What NOT to Say When Someone Dies

There are some areas and topics you will want avoid talking about after someone has died.

‘Don’t Cry’

Crying is a natural reaction. You should neither encourage or discourage someone from doing it.

If they feel the need to then comfort them. If they don’t and it doesn’t happen you shouldn’t pressure them to.

In fact you shouldn’t be telling them how they should or shouldn’t react. Period. Let them grieve and express that grief however they need to. All you should do is be there and support them.

‘I Know How you Feel’

The problem with saying this is anyone other than the person going through their particular loss doesn’t know how they feel. We all have individual and different responses to loss and we grieve differently. It may hit some people more than others. Some may cry, be angry, even feel numb. So saying ‘I know how you feel’ isn’t helpful.

‘At Least…’

Don’t say anything that begins with ‘at least’. This implies there is a positive to be taken from someone’s death, and the bereaved will almost certainly not feel that way.

Even if it is a relief someone isn’t suffering anymore, saying “at least he/she isn’t suffering anymore” is not going to be what helps the bereaved family feel better.

‘Everything Happens for a Reason’

This is a common phrase to use when someone dies but it should really be avoided. When someone has lost a loved one they don’t want to hear that there was a reason for that persons death. Nothing can ever explain or make it acceptable that we lose people so special to us.

‘It’s Time to Move On’

Grief has no end date or time limit. Many people will never stop grieving and the idea they should ‘move on’ is quite insulting. We remember and mourn the loss of our loved ones forever, even if we don’t show it in the surface. So any talk of moving on should be avoided.

What to Write When Someone Dies

If you are unable to see the bereaved in person, and for various reasons it isn’t always possible, then a sympathy card and message is an acceptable alternative.

These are just a few ideas of what to write when someone has died:

  • Sending you my deepest condolences
  • My most sincere condolences after such a tragic loss
  • We are so sorry for your loss. You have our deepest sympathy
  • Wishing you strength and support from the people around you. We are very sorry for your loss
  • You will be in my thoughts as you come to terms with such a terrible loss. All my love

For more examples see these 75 sympathy message examples or our ultimate guide on what to write in a sympathy card. If you prefer to send a letter then our sample sympathy letters or condolence note examples should help give you an idea of what to write.


Finding comforting words to say when someone dies is tough for everyone. Try your best to navigate the difficulties of loss and how to best deal with those grieving. It’s best to take the risk you say the wrong thing than nothing at all. As long as you reach out though and show your love and support they will appreciate whatever you say. Just being there for them is the main, and best thing you can do. Start with that and you should be fine.

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