When someone dies, regardless of the circumstances, it’s a tragedy. But when someone dies unexpectedly it can be all the more heartbreaking.

Loss affects us all and is never easy. But in many cases we at least have some time to prepare.

Does that make it any easier? Not really. But it gives us the opportunity to get ready for and try to deal with the grief that follows.

When someone dies suddenly though we lose that. The rug is pulled from under us and our world is torn apart in the blink of an eye.

So how do you reach out to someone going through a sudden loss? What do you say when someone dies unexpectedly?

We’ll look through some of the etiquette around what to say after a sudden death, but if just want example messages and comforting words you can use the links below to go straight to them.

Table of Contents
What to Say when Someone Dies Unexpectedly
- Say Something
- Listen
- Keep in Touch
- Offer them Help
Example Words of Comfort for a Sudden Death
- Mother
- Father
- Child
- Friend
What NOT to Say

What to Say when Someone Dies Unexpectedly

These are just a few guidelines of what to say after a sudden passing away.

Say Something

It’s really important that even if you’re worried about saying the wrong thing you should still say something.

No one wants to be left alone and not receive any support after a loss. So you should make sure you reach out in some way.

A simple message, condolence gift or flowers, or some help in their time of need. It doesn’t have to be anything particularly special but you should try to make them know you’re thinking of them.

A small amount of effort will go a long way and shows the bereaved they aren’t alone.

Listen

Listening is vital to helping someone feel better after a loss. They may well feel the need to express what they are experiencing and get many of those thoughts off their chest.

So having someone close to listen and support them can be very beneficial to dealing with a loss. You might feel like you always need to say something but sometimes it’s better to just have a friendly ear.

Keep in Touch

After losing someone so unexpectedly the bereaved will receive many messages of condolences and support. But often that support doesn’t last.

So you should do your best to keep checking in with them. Make sure they’re coping with the grief and see if they need any extra help.

Anniversaries and holidays after a loss are some of the hardest times for the bereaved, so make a note of those as specific times to check and see how they’re getting on.

Offer them Help

Words are all well and good but if you can then offering some actual assistance whilst they grieve is going to be far more helpful.

And those grieving will often not speak about their struggles. They carry the burden alone and don’t want to or don’t know how to ask for help.

So if you can then offering some assistance like grocery shopping or chores around the house whilst they’re in mourning will be warmly received and appreciated.

If you’re going to offer your help in this way be absolutely sure you follow through and can do so. The last thing someone grieving needs is to be letdown

Example Words of Comfort for a Sudden Death

You can use these sympathy wording examples in a card, email/text message or with a gift. They could also be said in person if you aren’t sure what to say to someone grieving.

  • I can’t really believe ______ is gone. It is utterly devastating and I am so sorry
  • You are in my thoughts after such a tragic and unexpected loss
  • This must be such a difficult time for you and I just wanted to let you know I’m here if you need anything
  • I was so shocked to hear of such a sudden loss. My most heartfelt condolences
  • I can’t imagine how hard this must be for you. If there is anything you need don’t hesitate to get in touch
  • I’m so shocked I don’t know what to say. Nothing can make this better but I’m here to talk or listen if you need me
  • I can’t believe or make sense of what has happened. To not have ______ around anymore is just heartbreaking. I hope friends and family are supporting you during this tragic time
  • I cannot begin to say just how sorry I am for such a terrible loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers, always
  • To lose someone so special so soon feels unfair and unjust. They will be missed greatly

Sudden death condolence message

What do you Say when Someone’s Mother Dies Suddenly

  • Your mother was a truly special woman and I cannot really believe she is gone. My deepest condolences for your loss
  • I don’t know what to say other than how sorry I am. Your mother will be missed so greatly by all who knew her
  • I just heard about your mom and I am so shocked and saddened. She will never be forgotten
  • To lose your mother at any time is terrible, but so suddenly is beyond heartbreaking. My deepest condolences for your loss
  • The shock of learning that your mother had passed so unexpectedly still hasn’t left me. She was one of the brightest, most generous people I knew. She will be missed so much
  • You have my most heartfelt condolences for this sudden and terrible loss
  • I will miss your mother like crazy and cannot truly believe she is really gone. I’m so saddened by it and wishing you strength and love through this time of loss
  • You are in my thoughts and prayers as you mourn the terrible loss of your mother in such awful circumstances
  • The loss of your mother has sent shockwaves of grief throughout everyone who knew her. It is a awful day and my heart goes out to you

SEE MORE: Words of Sympathy for the Loss of a Mother

What do you Day when Someone’s Father Dies Suddenly

  • We can’t quite believe your dad is really gone. He was an incredible person and leaves behind such a gaping hole in so many lives. My deepest sympathy for your loss
  • To lose your father so suddenly is cruel and unfair. I can only offer my condolences for such a shocking loss
  • Learning the need of your fathers unexpected passing was utterly devastating. I cannot fully express my sorrow and sympathy for his loss
  • Your dad was one of the kindest men I knew. His sudden passing like this will cause great sadness amongst so many. You are in my thoughts and my prayers
  • I only hope you can find strength with loved ones and friends to help get through this. Your dad would have wanted you to keep on living. I’m so very sorry for your loss
  • I wish there was more I could do to make things better or help. I can be there for you if you need anything though
  • You made your father proud, and though he is gone he will forever be in your heart. I am deeply sorry for your loss

SEE MORE: Words of Sympathy for the Loss of a Father

What do you Say when Someone’s Child Dies Suddenly

  • I cannot think of what to say or how I can help in this tragic time. All I can say is how sorry I am and that I can be there if you need me
  • Nothing can come close to easing your pain but I wanted to offer my condolences for your terrible loss
  • We are beyond shocked to learn of the utterly tragic loss of your son/daughter. We are sending our prayers for you to have the strength to get through this
  • Your baby girl/boy was a joy and there passing is heartbreaking. There are no words that could help but please know you are in my thoughts
  • There can be no greater pain than losing a child. My heart goes out to you
  • Your loss is devastating and your little girl/boy lit up everyone’s lives. Words will mean so little but we are deeply sorry for your awful loss
  • My heart aches to think of what you’re going through. It isn’t fair and doesn’t make sense. I am just so sorry

SEE MORE: Words of Sympathy for the Loss of a Child

What do you Say when Someone’s Friend Dies Suddenly

  • I realise I can’t fully understand how you’re feeling but please accept my condolences for this terrible and unexpected loss
  • Losing a friend is so hard, and even more when it comes with no warning. You have deepest sympathy
  • To lose such a close friend is heartbreaking. You will be in my thoughts as you cope with this tragedy
  • I am so saddened by your loss. I know how good a friend ______ was and so to lose them so suddenly must be incredibly tough. You have my most sincere sympathy
  • My deepest condolences for the loss of your best friend. He/she was a truly special person and I know they must leave a huge hole in your heart now they’re gone
  • May you find some comfort in family as you mourn this loss of a friend. My prayers and thoughts will be for you
  • If you need a shoulder to cry on or someone to just listen then don’t hesitate to ask. I am so sorry for your loss

SEE MORE: Condolence Messages for a Friend

What NOT to Say

When someone experiences a sudden death there are some phrases you should avoid saying. These could be extremely offensive and cause more pain at a time when they are already suffering.

  • “They are in a better place now” – if you’ve just lost someone unexpectedly then there is no way you will be thinking this. The place they should be is still alive, and with their loved ones. Saying something along these lines is going to be offensive and upsetting so avoid it.
  • “It was his/her time” – it never feels like or is the right time to lose a loved one and suggesting so is very inconsiderate.
  • “Everything happens for a reason” – losing someone special to you will not feel like it has happened for a reason. It will feel awful and unfair, and trying to tell someone otherwise will only contribute to their grief and pain.
  • “I understand how you feel” – whilst you may have experienced your own loss grief affects everyone differently. So you can never fully under and what each individual is going through when they lose someone.
  • “It’s time to move on” – pressuring someone into dealing with their grief and getting through it isn’t going to help. We all deal with loss differently and for some it takes a lot longer than others. Give them the space and time they need to work through it. Trying to force or cajole them is not going to help and will only further upset and offend them.

Conclusion

A sudden death is always a shock and tragic time for those left behind. By its unexpected nature it leaves the loved ones of those who passed away stunned and left reeling from how it comes so out of the blue.

That makes it even more difficult to know what to say and how to say it. But the most important take away from all of this is that you should be offering you condolences and support to those bereaved.

Reach out in some way, even if you’re worried your words or actions may be clumsy. The knowledge that friends and family are there for those dealing with a sudden death outweighs the potential for offence or getting your words wrong.

As long as you speak from the heart and do all you can to support them then you shouldn’t be too concerned with what to say.

what to say when someone dies unexpectedly

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