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What to Say Instead of ‘You’re in My Thoughts and Prayers’

When offering your condolences to those who have suffered a loss one of the most common phrases is ‘you’re in my thoughts and prayers’ (or some variation of that).

It’s a lovely sentiment that may well be true. And it demonstrates understanding of their pain and empathy to the situation.

But you might want to say something else. Something that has been used less, that means more to you or them, or expresses your feelings in a better way.

What you say or write to someone whilst they are grieving can be powerful and important. For them to know friends and family are there with support and love is essential for getting through painful times.

The person receiving your words will appreciate you taking the time and effort to find something more than just ‘you’ll be in my thoughts and prayers’, and may even take greater comfort from them.

So if you’re looking for an alternative to ‘you’re in my thoughts and prayers’ then keep reading as the examples below should help you to offer your condolences with more heartfelt words.

These examples should allow you to express you feelings to friends, family or colleagues who are coping with their grief, or even at a funeral. And in turn offer them even more comfort when they need it most.

What Can I Say Instead of You’re in my Thoughts and Prayers?

  • I am so deeply sorry for your loss
  • I will be thinking of you and sending my love
  • We will miss them more than words can say
  • They touched our lives and so many others
  • Please know I’m always here for you
  • You aren’t alone, we are here for you whatever you may need
  • No words could fully express my sorrow
  • There is nothing more I can say than how deeply sorry I am
  • I love you, please accept my condolences
  • Nothing I can say will ease your pain, but I am forever sorry for losing someone so special
  • My thoughts are with you in such a difficult time
  • I am sending prayers your way and hoping you know how much we care
  • My prayers are with you and your family as you cope with such a heartbreaking loss
  • I am keeping you in my thoughts and sending you my love

alternative to thoughts and prayers

‘You’re in my Thoughts and Prayers’ Alternatives for a Friend

It can be difficult to find the right words for a friend who has lost someone close to them. When friends of mine have experienced a loss I have wanted what I say to offer them as much comfort as possible.

Sometimes that means using common phrases but when I can I’ve tried to say something different and more personal. So say more than “you’re in my thoughts and prayers” with these alternatives.

  • I will always be there for you, no matter what
  • My heart breaks for you. I am so terribly sorry
  • There is nothing I can do to make this better, but I’ll be by your side all the way
  • Be strong my friend, and know you have the support and love of so many around you
  • Lean on us for comfort in your time of need. We will be there

you're in my thoughts and prayers alternatives

Phrases Instead of ‘You’re in my Thoughts and Prayers’ for Family Members

When talking to members of your family who have lost someone you might struggle to express yourself properly. I know I’ve found it harder to find the right words when family are grieving the loss of a loved one.

Hopefully these sayings will help you with what to say instead of “you’re in my thoughts and prayers”.

  • Family will surround you with love and support
  • May angels bring you peace
  • I was utterly devastated to learn of your loss
  • I know how much you’re hurting and I want to be there to help
  • You won’t be alone to get through this. We will be by your side

For Loss of Parents

The loss of a parent is so tragic. When I lost both of my parents I appreciated those who reached out with their warmth and kindness.

If you know of someone who has lost their mother or father then you can reach out with these alternative phrases for “you’re in my thoughts and prayers”.

  • I hope the love of family and friends will bring you comfort through such tough times
  • May the happy memories you have provide some comfort
  • As you grieve please remember how much you are loved
  • I will always make time for you if there is anything you need during this tragic time
  • I wish there was something I could do to help ease the pain

you're in my thoughts and prayers alternative

For Loss of a Partner/Spouse

After losing my husband and partner of over 40 years it was family and friends who picked me up and got me through the grief. But I remembered everyone who sent their condolences and the effort they made to show how much they we’re thinking of me.

So comfort those who have lost their partner with these unique sympathy messages and sayings.

  • I love you and will be there to support you
  • Hold on to the memories of your loved one and they will never truly leave you
  • When someone you love becomes a memory the memory becomes a treasure
  • Losing a parent is heartbreaking and I am so very sorry
  • It is cruel to have someone so special taken from us. May they rest in peace

Ways to Say ‘You’re in my Thoughts and Prayers’ to a Coworker

Coworkers and colleagues become very close to us and so when they are dealing with a loss it’s a touching gesture to send a card or gift. These messages will give you something else to say that isn’t “you’re in my thoughts and prayers”.

  • Wishing you love and hope
  • Sending loving hope and thoughts to you and your family
  • Offering my sympathy for your loss
  • I hope you’re coping ok after such an awful loss
  • May your treasured memories be forever held in your heart

‘You’re in my Thoughts and Prayers’ Alternatives for an Acquaintance

Even if you didn’t know someone that well that has suffered a loss it’s still important to express your condolences. These alternative messages will help you when attending a funeral or just talking to an acquaintance who is mourning a death.

  • My deepest sympathy for your loss
  • My sincerest condolence for a tragic loss
  • Wishing you find peace and solace to help you get through
  • What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes part of us
  • Wishing you loving memories to warm your heart, today and always

‘You’re in my Thoughts and Prayers’ Alternatives for Cancer

If you know someone with cancer or who has recently been diagnosed then these alternatives to ‘you’re in my thoughts and prayers’ should help you to show you’re thinking of them during such a difficult time.

  • I’m not really sure what the right thing to say is but please know how much I care.
  • If you want to talk or someone to listen I’m always here. Whatever you choose I’ll be thinking of you.
  • We will get through this together and I’ll be by your side.
  • Words may fail me but you can guarantee I’ll be there for you.
  • I’m so sorry you’re going through this but I know how strong you are.
  • I care so much about you and am proud of how you’re dealing with this.
  • No one will be cheering you on as you fight this as much as I will.


Saying “you’re in my thoughts and prayers” may be overused but that is mainly because it’s a loving way of expressing sympathy for someone’s loss. So try not to feel bad or awkward about using it if you want to.

I have used it myself many times when expressing my condolences. Sometimes I’ve found it to be appropriate and other times I’ve wanted something else.

But these alternatives show there are other things you can say. Remember that what you choose to say or write will ultimately be insignificant compared to being there for those grieving, attending the funeral and offering your support. That is what they will appreciate and remember most.

what to say instead of you're in my thoughts and prayers

135 thoughts on “What to Say Instead of ‘You’re in My Thoughts and Prayers’”

  1. We need to watch our language as Christians who are comforting a person whose loved one is of the faith that Jesus is their Savior and we have the assurance from God’s Word that they should be in heaven now.
    Please refer to them as passed on and not “Lost”. They are not lost, we know where they are now. Thank you

    • Totally agree Doris… Having my 28 yr old daughter precede me to heaven, I am part of a group trying to enlighten people on language… We do not use words die or death because we are living for eternal life… We do not call ourselves ‘bereaved’, as it is possibly the saddest word in the English dictionary. Instead, we call ourselves Shining Light Parents, since the light of our amazing children shines through us.

    • I agree they are not lost. I know where my son is. We also as Christians need to stop saying God needs him more than you, that is not true. God does not need us we need HIM. I hated it when people would say that to me. My advice to a grieving mom is Silence…. Silence is Golden, there are NO words just a hug and a prayer for us to make it till our dying day.

    • Nice article for those with secular beliefs. The original phrase really depends on so many different factors neither of which were addressed in this article. Prayer is the most powerful tool we have available to us to comfort the grieving. The 2nd is the hope for the future that we all have, even we don’t believe it now. Thanks

    • I agree. Two other statements that bother me are “they are an angel now” and “They’ll be watching over you.” I don’t believe people in Heaven have access to this evil world. It would cause tears and pain that should not, and do not, occur in Heaven.

    • When my husband unexpectedly “died/passed/discontinued his earthly existence,” I knew exactly where he was. The one who was “lost” was me because very nearly everything I did revolved around making sure he felt loved and supporting him in his endeavors. What matters most from my perspective is that people mean what they say. Empty words and promises cause more pain. They cause me to question the integrity of the individual. If “you” don’t know how to comfort someone or really care about their well being, hug them while keeping inane remarks to yourself. Whatever you do, the day after the funeral DO NOT ask if they are going to sell their home and live elsewhere. I was flabbergasted by the comments that were, and still are, made to me.

  2. Thank you for so many lovely alternatives. There is one place where there is a typo. The sentence “There is nothing more I can say then how deeply sorry I am” should read “There is nothing more I can say **than** how deeply sorry I am.”

    • I’m sure the person grieving is not taking pts off for misspelled words. It’s the heart felt sincerity of the message.

    • Thank you Barbara. The addition of the word than makes more sense.

      Thanks for the article and alternate ways of express ones sympathy.

  3. I’m a firm believer in the Written Word in my Bible. The third (3rd) chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes talks about tree is a reason for all things. And it’s my belief I was meant to read this post. There has been many times when I’ve said those exact words “you’re in my thoughts and prayers” and then afterwards, realizing I’ve truly over used it. That doesn’t necessarily mean I wasn’t being sincere. But, I came to the conclusion that I needed to ponder a different way to express my condolences. This post, it would seem, was written and posted just for me. The author(s) , in my opinion, did an outstanding job of that. I especially liked the fact they took in consideration, the specific relationships between, say me and the person who had passed, I.e. me and a coworker. I simply cannot put into words my thanks and gratitude for the time and effort they gave to this subject and, most of all, for me anyways, the way they presented suggestions and alternative language to used based on the type of relationship between me and the deceased person. And, just so you know, I full well plan on re-reading your post, including the categories. Thank you

    • So what POSSIBLE reason could there be when a husband’s car won’t start when he is leaving early for work while his family is still asleep, so he uses his wife’s car to jump his but accidentally leaves her car running in their attached garage when he goes to work, only to come home at the end of the to find his whole family dead? I am dying to know the reason for that! NOT EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON.

          • That’s exactly the scripture I was thinking of. “ Time and unforeseen occurrences befall us all.”
            What a tragedy!
            2Corinthians 1:3&4 “ Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our trials so that we may be able to comfort others in any sort of trial with the comfort that we receive from God. “

      • Oh my goodness, I’m so very sorry if this was a tragedy hit close to home for you. No, there was no good reason. But to the untrustworthy one as I am, seems as it wasn’t an accident.
        Accept my sincere condolences

        • Well… that seems mean and blaming. My gf father did this 50 years ago. He was late for work, rushing, and just forgot!
          Blame won’t bring them back and the untrustworthy in you needs healing. I’ll pray for you and your healing.

      • What a terrible tragedy. We live in a broken world with broken people, prone to error and prone in some cases to great evil. One of the purposes of the book of Ecclesiastes is to proclaim “this too is meaningless,” used in such a way as to mean, “It is impossible to figure this out.” We are told the secret things belong to God. We cannot always see the reason. Job in his great suffering did not know the reason, yet he chose to trust God. If God in all His greatness would choose to come to earth to die for me, then maybe I can choose to trust Him for the rest, even when it is hard. This life is not all there is. I hope this man in his pain will come to know God’s forgiveness and peace.

      • We are God’s children – we are like 3 year olds to God trying to understand things that are beyond what our small minds can comprehend. We can’t understand why God would allow this to happen so we may never find a “reason”. Faith in God will get you/them through it and that is exactly what you can say. There is no person on earth who can help someone get through such a tragedy like God can.

      • That should have read ,”to everything there is a season. ” Many things occur that don’t make sense, we live in a broken world. Leaning on Jesus can give us comfort and peace even when we can’t understand what’s happening.

      • I can’t imagine the tremendous amount of pain that man, their family, loved ones, and community face in such a tragic situation. It’s profoundly sad and overwhelming.

        I know that many people do not respond well to loss, death and grief; even when they are far removed from the circumstances – such as strangers on the internet, maybe. When someone responds with something that seems insensitive, cliche or nonsensical, like the phrase you shared they most likely are at a loss for what to say, they are possibly trying to find comfort themselves or they desire to help comfort the hurting but they simply aren’t good at it. My thought is that when those moments happen try accept that person’s limits and give the benefit of the doubt that it was the best they could offer.

        I’m sorry it sounds like you encountered that in this time of pain and I’m wishing you peace and comfort.

      • What can you say it’s a horrible tragedy. I lost my son from carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s been 17 years and I still relive it.

        That’s what I noticed when she was going through the different people we can loss in our lives. Trust me losing a child is the worst loss you will ever go through. It will rock you to your core. There’s no getting over it you learn to live in spite of it.

        • You are exactly correct. It will be 23 years this December when my son was murdered. Some years, the date, and month (or 2 or3), passes by before I truly remember the significant change that occurred in me and my life. Other years, the pain hits me like it is all new again and just recently happened. You “learn” to live daily life with it or, it can be said, you “choose” to live daily life with it. You breathe moment to moment “in spite of it”!

        • I’ve found this to be true. I lost my oldest son 10 years ago to accidental drowning. He was 28. I relive that day most days.

      • Thank God for the time you had togeather. You could not have a loving family if it was not for surch a GOOD GOD.

    • I agree with you , however none of the alternate things offered, mentioned leaning on God for strength and keeping faith strong through the pain of a loss. Seems we are often led to take God out of everything. I did enjoy the alternative things offered. It does seem like (wash , rinse repeat)comments become so common when trying to comfort those we love who are hurting. Sadly as we get older we find ourselves writing more and more.

      • I too felt that there was a gaping lack of dependance on a person of the trinity for peace and strength in the statements provided. Even if the grieving person is not a believer, letting them know that God can ease their pain is important.
        Times such as these provide an opportunity for us to share the love we experience as Christians. We should never leave
        God out of the equation.

      • When I lost my 26 year old daughter to a brain aneurysm, the nicest thing was people sharing their favorite memories and photos of her…

        • I totally agree. After the passing of our son there were so very many friends of his that we barely knew but when they shared moments of their times with him from camping to playing music or volunteering to help someone it did lighten my spirit.

        • I’m sorry for your family’s loss.

          Thank you for that insight as I’m preparing to spend time with friends who recently lost their adult son.

      • As a mother, who has buried two of my children, there are no words.
        Actually, that is the perfect thing to say to someone suffering such an unimaginable loss. I would actually have been grateful if even one person had said this or something alone this line.
        What I found unforgivable, still, is
        ” It is God’s Will”
        GOD only knows this was Not a thing to tell a mother, who was watching her child breathe their last breath! I am more in control of my emotional react8ons than I was those years ago. But Mother Superior or not, I still want to punch the female.

        • I’m sorry that happened to you. Some people are so consumed by church, and religion and that statement makes me sick also. You should have punched her.

        • I am sorry that was what they told you. I cannot even imagine losing a child. I am a newborn nursery nurse for 29 years, experienced several stillbirths. I had tears of sorrow for every stillbirth. Our Heavenly Father does not plan these things. Please read John 5:28,29 for comfort and hope.

          • A friend said she can have another child she’s young when my granddaughter died from SIDS. They speak without thinking how their words may cause pain. My chance was to explain to the thoughtless person one child cannot be replaced like a puppy and their words showed their lack of understanding my daughter was grieving and our family, have to speak with some other more sensitive people, pardon me.

        • Kimmi, you’re right-that is NOT something you say. If you’re a believer in Christ, you already know it but don’t need to hear it. If you’re not a believer, that can create a hatred for God and open up a whole different can of worms. My sister died from suicide when she was 24. One of my mom’s closest friends, who went to the same church as we did, felt the need to come to the viewing and say “you do know she’s in hell now because she took her own life?” I didn’t have the self-control you did…I told her what I thought of her judgmental (and cruel) comment, reminded her that she was NOT God-then showed her the door. On behalf of this ignorant woman who said that to you, I want to apologize that you had to endure such a thoughtless comment-people can be cruel without realizing they’re being cruel….and some people are too stupid to know! I truly am sorry for the loss of your 2 children, and can’t even begin to understand what you went through, or how you felt. I can only say that as you learn to live life without them, I pray that you will be comforted by all the good memories and that your hurting heart will heal.

        • I’m so very sorry that people blame for God for someone else’s loss. God didn’t have Jesus resurrect people of death was a positive thing. Bible says death is an enemy and it sure is for those left behind.

      • I lost my beloved daughter, Kellie (Belle) at 28. The most poignant remarks came from someone I once was secretly in love with.
        He said, “I’m so sorry I didn’t call. I just couldn’t find the words to say.”
        Tears still fall. My heart is shattered.
        I am forever changed. But love and kindness changes everything.

    • If you have a memory of that child that brought you joy, mention it. I can’t tell you how much it helped and still helps to hear good memories of my son. It let me know that I wasn’t alone in loving him, it gave me another piece of him that I didn’t have before, and it helps me to remember his life instead of just his death. I will forever grieve for my child, but I also want to forever remember the joy he gave others when he was living.

    • As a single mother who lost a child, you are so correct. The pain is ‘unbearable’. I felt as though my heart and soul were being ripped out of my body. It hurt so bad. That’s been 29 years ago. I do not allow my head to ponder on that day as the pain is always laying in wait.

    • When my daughter died I found out how true that is. There’s nothing anybody can say but there’s a lot of things that people shouldn’t say I had my oldest daughter and everybody would say well. You still have her like as if I had a closet full of children that I could just go home and open the door and not be upset anymore. I have lost many family members, but nothing hurt. Nothing felt as bad as losing my child.

    • you are so right….I have buried my only son. However, now I learn of a grieving mother and find her name and address. I begin sending her notes of love in the weeks following her loss. Just notes to let her know I know….and she too will survive..encouraging her to lean on her Heavenly Father and that there is no “right way to grieve”….So many times I get responses of thank you….I do this because someone who knew my pain did it for me.

  4. But what you say also has a huge impact on your actions after you say it. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been told that they were there for me to listen or whatever. But they disappear or tell me that everyone is tired of hearing about it. Talk about something else. I have lost seven loved ones, both parents, my husband died during during my father’s service even. And more dear to me in three years. Nothing compares to checking on someone. Just a minute phone call counts more than anything you can imagine, and costs you nothing but is priceless to the other person. And a actual, paper card in the mail….they still have those. Can be looked at whenever and however many times needed. In the middle of the night especially, it’s a paper hug in a way.

    • Gina – just happened to read your comment. I’m so so sorry that those around you are treating you so horribly and being so inconsiderate. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain you must be feeling, not just from the loss of so many important people in your life, but also from the ignorance of those around you. I strongly believe that if one gets the emotional support they need after a loss, then the healing will be easier and the loss a bit less acute. Sending you gentle healing hugs, Peggy

      • Sending my condolences to Gina Castle, and many others that have lost someone dear to them. My father passed away two months ago, it was, and is a difficult period, losing a loved one, and adjusting our lives without them. I agree with Peggy, finding someone that can help you to navigate through your grief, and will be able to give you a consistent listening ear we may need. They are called “bereavement counselors”. The Hospice team that took care of my father in the end, provides this service. I’m going to have my mom speak to someone today actually, to talk and listen to how she’s emotionally doing without my Dad.
        Sometimes family and friends are grieving too, and trying to process the loss in their own way. It may be too painful for them to hear about the sadness over and over. When people distance themselves, it might be for their own emotional preservation. (?) Sometimes a neutral, understanding, listening ear, is what we need to help us to move on, and to assist in channeling our grief in a way that our loved one that passed, would want us to.

        • Our church offers the program “Griefshare” which is a Christian based support program. These programs are located all over the nation. Check out their website for a GRIEFSHARE near you. Maybe one more avenue to help those who are suffering and broken-hearted….

          • Griefshare does have it’s value. Just know it is a workbook that is gone through over the course of several months. Then, the class begins again to go over the workbook with new people. It is a “one size fits all” application. So, if you have experienced a death (or more than one) that you need more than the average consolation to navigate, you will probably need something other than or in addition to griefshare.

    • Gina, I agree that it does have a huge impact on how people behave after such statements. It’s easy to write a post but we often forget the heartache a family member or friend is going through from the loss of a loved one. I am so sorry that you have had so many losses especially the loss of your husband. May the Peace of the Lord comfort you. ❤️✝️

    • Gina…
      I am with you, we’re on same page. I lost my husband and not 1 one of his family even bother to call or talk to me right after the funeral until now. I lost both of my parents on Christmas time, it was the hardest time of my life. Thanks be to GOD my daughter I is making it this far.

    • Gina, I truly understand your unimaginable pain. I lost my precious, only daughter followed by my mother and then brother in less than 1 1/2 year span. You haven’t even grieved the first loss before the next. I encourage you to find a support group if you can. Without the grief support after the loss of my daughter I don’t know how I would have made it through the first few months. It really helps to be able talk and listen to people with similar experiences of loss and you can learn many coping strategies. We each grieve in our own way. Most importantly, know your are not alone and there are people who can help you, comfort you, cry with you and hopefully laugh and smile with you. Be gentle on yourself. The pain never ends but you can feel joy and happiness again. And lastly, I DO keep everyone suffering from loss in my thoughts and prayers and hope they find some peace.

    • Gina, My family also had a year like this. We “lost” two brothers, sister-in-law, Aunt, and Mother all in less than a year. I don’t know how we made it except we still feel it and never close a visit without saying I love you. It’s hard and I understand your pain. Mother Mary help this lady heal and go on.

    • I have a girlfriend that had cared for her sick husband for nearly 2 years before he passed on. Of course she was devastated, but she was comforted by the numerous people that told her they would be there for her if she needed to talk or visit with her. Similar to what another person wrote, within the first 2 weeks, everyone slowly disappeared and moved on with their lives, forgetting my friend and the promise they had made to her.
      I love the idea of sending cards and it being a “paper hug” that can comfort someone whenever they need it. I often send “thinking of you” cards later on, just to let them know I am still thinking of them and wishing them well.

  5. The only thing I have found consoling is “although I cannot understand your pain, our Heavenly Father can. He too knows the pain of heart when losing a child.”

    • As a non-Christian I would be confused if ,someone close to me, would mention their heavenly father and prayers to him for my sake.
      I would wonder why that friend would say that, knowing who I am, and on that ocassion?!!!
      So I fully appreciate it when you express your hartfelt feelings without any religieus motif. It shows respect to atheïsts and people with another religion.
      I do go to Christian funerals and show respect (Which is something else than approve) and understand that we are all different and that is good.

      • There would be no malice in someone, on the contrary, but only thoughtfullness and caring. There should be no confusion when someone is simply reaching out to you in your time of grief. I am a Christian and would not feel disrespected because you sent me your condolences without mentioning my heavenly father. You should appreciate that anyone would reach out to you in a time of terrible sadness or life changing event. Sad is sad is sad and kind is kind is kind. I would be happy for a hug, kind words, a cooked meal delivered to my home and/or a thoughtful card/letter from anyone no matter your religious or non-religious beliefs. All the best Nellisa.

  6. Thank you for so many alternate things to say especially under certain circumstances, and depending on relationships; friends, relatives, co workers, etc.

  7. I really appreciate these thoughtful, meaningful expressions. I also appreciate where Gina is coming from. It is important to do more than say you will be there for someone. Following through months and even years afterward does so much more. Conversations do not need to be an hour long therapy session. A simple hello, how are you, and asking them to share a special memory of their loved one can do so much to lighten their emotional load.

  8. I lost both my parents and my little brother by age 27. At 37, I lost my 11 year old daughter and my marriage fell apart. Several years later, I lost both my step parents and my older brother whom I adored!

    Being in someone’s thought and prayers never helped me at all. I needed emotional support during these times—someone too meet for coffee or bring me a meal. And I especially did not want to hear how my loved ones were “in a better place” or that God “loved them so much that he brought them home!” These kind of platitudes made me insane. Don’t ask if the bereaved person needs anything. Most likely, they will tell you NO. Just do something for them. Mow their lawn, make them a pie or soup, take their kids for an afternoon. But show them that you really do care!

    • Oh, Meredith, I am so sorry for your multiple losses! I cannot imagine the depth of your pain. But I am so glad to hear someone else say what I’ve been thinking since my 27 year old daughter died seven years ago. I want to slap anyone who says she’s “in a better place”, “God needed another angel in heaven” or she’s “looking down smiling on her kids”. No, just no. She was heartbroken that she was too sick to care for her boys. If she’s “looking down” at her kids, she’s probably angry she got a raw deal on health, that she’s not here raising her boys. I have found peace by abandoning faith in any god. I spent way too much time being angry at “God” for not answering years of prayers. Wishing you find peace in some way as well.

  9. Dealing with news of someone’s passing isn’t a skill that comes natural for most people. From my own experience, it’s sometimes best not to say anything. Just taking the time to visit the grieving is in itself an act that speaks louder than words, and a hug doesn’t hurt either. Meredith, your suggestions are exactly what my household does when someone we know has lost a loved one. We don’t ask what we can do, we just show up. I mow their lawn. Someone is with the grieving to assist with answing the phone, recieve visitors, answer questions, and to be company when it gets quiet, and help with funeral arrangements. For me, it came back 10 fold when I lost my youngest son at the age of 24. My neighbors took charge. I was overwhelmed by the compassion that was extended to me and the help they gave at a time that I was crippled by emotion. I’ve learned that giving of yourself is the greatest gift for any situation. Thanks for indulging my rambling!

    • Reply to Dan. I so agree with actions speak louder than words. I just lost my grandmother, who was more of a mother and this has just devastated me. A simple act of kindness goes much further than just the lip service. I am a devout Christian and I think the most offensive thing I’ve been told is “she’s in a better place because God needed another angel”. In my belief system God is the alpha and omega and doesn’t “need more angels”. I would rather someone perform an act of kindness without the expectation of even being acknowledged for the action, if possible. The Bible tells us to act from the heart and be a blessing because it’s in our hearts and not because we expect something in return. Again, loved your input.
      I wish more people followed this instead of the usual insincere comments. In addition, I also don’t appreciate the comment “RIP” on social media. I think those individuals should just stay quiet. It’s rude and impersonal. Just my two cents.

  10. a painful but honest view from a person who has lost a loved one and gone through the living traumatic hell that follows is definitely not rambling. The struggle is real x

    • I have lost both my children and can clearly state…please don’t use platitudes. Just be real. Let the mother know that you remember them…share a memory…it’s ok if it’s a Funny one. Mark your calendar 3 months. That’s about the time everyone else has moved on but that mama still has a huge gaping hole in her heart compounded by thoughts that everyone else has forgotten, and confused by thoughts that others wish you would move on. Call, or send a note…all you have to say is that their child was special and that you miss him/her too and wanted to let her know. I had a lady do this for me…it blew me away to know my boys affected others in a meaningful way. Certain holidays are really rough…Mother’s Day…the child’s birthday…drop a note or a call. All you have to say is that you know it’s rough and that their child made an impact in your life too. It’s a total life raft for someone grieving. It tells them that their child lives on in the memories of others

  11. I’m an ER doctor. I often have to deliver bad news to people on the saddest day of their lives. . These are expressions I find most helpful.

    There are no words… I am so sorry for your loss.

    Our hearts are so heavy with yours right now.

    I wish things were different, I am so sorry for your loss.

    This must be so hard to bear. I am here anytime you need to talk.

  12. So many of these “what to use instead of..”s don’t include anything about prayers. Saying you’ll say a prayer (and then doing it) is so helpful because it implies that something/someone more powerful than us has been called to help! I feel that this is so meaningful because it’s beyond anything a human can do, something miraculous!

    • Not every system of belief is about prayers or Jesus. Sometimes a person doesn’t know the grieving person’s religious preference or they themselves are not mainstream Christian. It’s best to not assume in delicate situations as this.

      • I can vouch for that…I lost my hubby in a car accident and when I shared it in person with one of his best friends, he said…”I’m so worried, did he declare Jesus Christ his Lord and savior?!” He meant it, BUT DEAR GOD, DON’T EVER SAY THAT to a brand new widow- it is 100% about them and not the grieving spouse. Years later I still cringe when someone asks me that or I hear it somewhere. So thoughtless, but not intentionally unkind.

    • I agree with you.. Prayers can envelop you. You can physically feel them. I am thankful for thoughts and prayers.

  13. My 24 year old daughter found out she had brain cancer while she was pregnant with her first child. She had only been married a year. I had never lost a loved one before and joked that the only spirit I knew in heaven was my dog. I have learned so much from this experience! First of all, everyone is so different in how they grieve!! My husband and I are very opposite. I want to be left alone. He wants his family around and enjoys the attention. The LAST thing I want is anyone “dropping by”. Not even close family members. I cry alone. I think and reflect and process and grieve alone. People wanting from me – even my time- is a huge drain of energy I do not have. My house is not clean and I don’t want you to come in. -or clean it. I just need time. The overwhelming kindness of well -intentioned wonderful people becomes difficult to distinguish from those near strangers with some kind of morbid curiosity. My daughter was well loved and popular. The social media barrage of curious onlookers during the most tragic and private time of my life has scarred me forever. I will ALWAYS be “the lady whose daughter died of brain cancer”
    There’s nothing anyone CAN do to change anything. If it were possible, there were a hundred people who would’ve gladly taken her place. I do love it when people write down a memory of her and send it in a card. Someday I will give them all to her daughter and maybe she will feel like she can know her momma. At least prayer is an ACTION! I’ve never felt closer to my Father in Heaven and to Jesus Christ than during this time. I literally feel held up by angels every day. I know my daughter is close by me. I’m grateful she’s no longer in pain and confined to a sick body. I know she’s happy to be free and I’m so grateful! I will forever be grateful for all of the people, known and unknown, who have prayed for me to feel peace. I know it’s not what everyone might want to hear, so know your audience, but pray for them either way!!

    • I just read your comment and wanted you to know how sorry I am to read about the loss of your daughter. I have never lost a child so I can not honestly say I know what your going through, for I don’t, but I can imagine it must be the hardest thing to live through. Knowing you have an angel by your side and your Granddaughter is being watched over by her “Special Angel” hopefully ;is comforting to you.
      God will be with you every step of the way as well as your Angel. I am a strong believer in Angels and have experienced them in my lifetime, so know they are there to comfort you.

    • I agree with you. I too lost my daughter. I wanted to be left alone. My niece had passed 6 yrs prior, when my daughter passed my sister wanted to talk about it constantly. I finally had to say please stop, I’m not like you” I need time to process and accept. As far as social media. I asked everyone close to me to not mention my child on social media. I’d seen this play out multiple times and thought it to be tacky and voyeuristic. My child was more than a Facebook post. I understand everyone is not like this. Some say it is unhealthy but we’re all different. I still say I love my daughter. I do not use past tense. It’s been 4 yrs, if I can’t find an article of clothing or a pc of jewelry I can finally joke to my other children that my daughter is still borrowing my things without asking. I hope you too find those days to smile.

    • Something I like to do as a Christian is stop and pray for that person/ family/situation right then. In addition to anything else I might say, I tell them “I just prayed for you <3." It's honest, because I may not think to continue praying for that situation regularly and how often do people say "in my thoughts and prayers" but never actually pray for it? It's also genuine. That person can know they've truly been lifted up in prayer and it's not an empty comment.

  14. My heart goes out to Gina and all who have lost someone precious to their heart. My Daddy died two years ago and it was devastating to me / all of our family but especially for my Mom. She is lost without him. He had dementia and was Lost to us before he was even gone. I was a Daddy’s Girl always. Not having him with us is so difficult but I know with all my heart he is in heaven watching over us. My Daddy was a Minister and would always drop whatever he was doing to pray for anyone for whatever their hearts needed. I try do that also.
    But remembering those we care for with a card, a hug, a phone call is so important to express our care in the way we can is meaningful. Our neighbor lost her husband and my husband and I worked for hours to get up her leaves just because. It meant a lot to her. I have taken meals / pie to someone just to help out. I am “The Card Lady” so I make it my mission to get cards out. God bless anyone with an aching heart.

  15. Almost all of them have no reference to the presence of the holy spirit, Christ love for them, or anything spiritual in general

    • I love the lord with all my might but when I had so many tradjedies in a short time frame ,I yelled and screamed at god why did he leave me to face all this alone , but god forgives when we get on with life just as he said he would, thats why Jesus died on the cross ,they knew my heart and soul ,and something the world is short. On Compassion and forgiveness sorry if you disagree

  16. As a mother who lost 2 children I believe your in my thoughts and prayers is the most appropriate response. I felt like I was going to scream if another person said I’m sorry, etc. people mean only kindness but feel like they need to say something to fill the awkwardness but please know they are hurting beyond words.

  17. I just say, “My heart is with you.” And, to my close friends, I give a beautiful little red glass heart.

  18. A friend’ s teen son passed away out of state. His parents had been away from home for months while their children
    stayed home with grandparents. When, their friends received the news; they came that night and cleaned the house, received food and flowers and took all messages. The one memory, that stands out; is the older gentleman from their Church quietly polishing the shoes of each member of the family. Just as your beautiful gift of the heart, it will be the gesture from the heart that is held close.

  19. I find out the dates of their lost loved one’s birthday, anniversary, and send them cards on that day and at Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas – the usual family Holidays, relating something I remember about them and also the first year anniversary of their death. This will always be a hard day for your friend to live through even though, if they were a believer, it is their first birthday in heaven with Jesus.

  20. I understand some of these, however I’ve lost both parents two brothers. When someone I know lost her mom I knew the hurt she was going though, I told her things from my heart. I didn’t try to sugarcoat it saying it’ll get better it never does and it won’t till you yourself dies. I told her I know the hurt she’ll always be in your thoughts. Fifth years after losing my mom I still crying from missing her. I told my friend I know she’s gone and it hurts but I’m here. I’ll have your back, we’ll talk when you’re ready. I’m sorry I know is is all over the place but the pain, missing never goes away, but having someone to call at two in the am just to cry with on the phone is more helpful then any words

  21. I agree. Don’t tell a hurting, grieving person to “ask if you need anything.” They’re not likely to. Instead, tell them what you are going to do for them, and then do it. Maybe get their grocery list, then shop for them. Or come mow their yard; or take away a load of dirty laundry and return it cleaned and folded the next day. It doesn’t have to cost much money or even much time, but shows practical, caring, heartfelt support that is immeasurable.

  22. My husband passed away on May 24,2022. I try to stay busy. I feel so alone in the evenings. When i hear love songs I cry my heart out. This is a pain that I must go thru. It would be so kind for friends to call and to just ay hello. I didn’t realize how aloneI I would feel. I guess that it is hard to understand another’s pain of loss until you have experienced a similar loss. Love does not die. It stays in your heart and soul. I have found comfort knowing that for me Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. We need to love our neighbor as our self this is what I am learning.. I hope that I will be able to offer my sympathy in a respectful and thoughtful way to others who will share this awful pain.

  23. So where is something for the loss of a child. Here’s one:
    When you loose a parent you become an orphan. When you loose a spouse you become a widow or widower. There is no word for loosing a child. Know that we are trying to understand your loss and we are here is you want to talk about your loved one. How do I know this? I lost a child. The greatest of all losses.

  24. When my husband died, for some reason I really hated it when someone said I’m so sorry or sorry in any way. Wierd I know, but in talking to other people who have lost someone close, they’ve said the same thing.

  25. Idk..I usually say “you’re in my thoughts and prayers” because that’s the case. However after reading this and all the responses it’s seems so complicated that maybe I shouldn’t say anything.

  26. I don’t think anyone knows what to say and sometimes the words are just a blur during that time. I lost my husband and high school sweetheart of 17 years when we were 34 years old. The sentiments are appreciated, and it depends on your relationship with the grieving. Unfortunately, during that time, I can’t say I remember much. I heard the words, appreciated them, and knew people felt helpless to make things better. I think it’s just best to say what is in your heart and try to comfort that person as much as you can or are comfortable doing. Grief is a lonely time especially in the days, months, years following so, to me, that was when I especially appreciated the support and kind words, whatever they happened to be.

  27. Sometimes there are no words. I think because we fear the unknown and hate silence, we try to say anything and hunt for a connection. How about a hug, a love you, or a physical need(bring sandwich stuff, offer to clean a house, do an errand, etc) fulfilled.

  28. Both of the following comments are rather insensitive to someone who has lost a child.
    I was utterly devastated to learn of your loss…
    no one is more devasted than the parent of the child and it hurts to hear a comment like this. It feels
    dismissive of the loss the parent feels.
    I know how much you’re hurting and I want to be there to help
    unless one has lost a child they can never “know” how much the parent is hurting.

  29. You who say there is nothing to say when a child dies are so right. For me just a tight hug said it all. Nothing can fill that hole left inside you. Also telling me something they experienced with him I loved. Had a classmate show me pictures of her grandchildren at visitation. My belief is that our children belong to God and he just lets us adopt and take care of them on earth. The Lord just came after my husband 2 weeks ago. He worked so hard but loved his work, now he is at rest no regrets, married 57 years. Two totally different loses. I am loving hearing all the stories his co-workers and friends are sharing.

  30. I have always been at a loss for the perfect thing to say to give comfort and express how heartbroken I feel for their loss. During the loss of my sister’s husband I found a bracelet for her and a key chain for her daughter with nice sentiments. I have received more than one thank you from them appreciating the item and that every time they see it, it gives them comfort. They are both items that they will see often and it lets them know that I remembered their pain and they remember I care. I since have purchased a couple of other items that I will give to two mother’s, one who lost her husband. She also lost her son over suicide. And another mother who lost her husband.

    I appreciate the idea of sending a card thinking of the loss of a loved one for different occasions, but I also think of sending when there is no reason… but just because… because you care about them. You know that any given day would be a good day to send loving thoughts and memories, because every day they are thinking of their loss.

  31. Please don’t ever say “Be strong” or “Stay strong”…I heard it countless times right after my 28yo son passed away and it’s incredibly rude, there’s many other things you can say that are more thoughtful!

  32. Tiah, that is so true. My 63 year old son was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and chose to take his life rather endure what he was facing. I am 85. People keep telling me I have to be strong because I am the family matriarch. Why? Why am I obligated to be strong? I don’t want to be strong. I want to weep and wail and scream and beat my head against the wall. I can’t be strong right now. Nothing will comfort me. My son is dead.

    • Hi Pat, I have not gone through what you are going through, and can’t even imagine the level of grief you are suffering. Your note touched my heart. If I had to go through what you are, I think I’d be doing the same thing…crying, screaming, etc. In my grief I may even have a word or two with God. I hope that your grief can be replaced with joyous memories of your son.

    • Precious Pat, no, you don’t have to “be strong.” (See my comment below, written before I read your comment.) It’s a misguided travesty to tell a griever to “be strong,” and it does no one else any good, family matriarch or not. Instead, you can be a (healthy!) role model by honoring your grief which demonstrates to others the permission to grieve in their own way, as you grieve in yours. Grief is love, and it’s to be honored and expressed. In fact, it’s how we heal. No one else gets to tell you how to grieve.

  33. I noticed you didn’t post anything for the parent who lost a child. That is one of the hardest deaths to have to go through. I have lost both parents, I have lost my father in law, brother in law, sister in law, friends I’ve had since I was a toddler they were neighbours. I however have not lost a spouse. I will tell you though losing a child leaves you raw I never know there’s was such a think as a broken heart until I lost my 18 year old son 3 weeks after his 18th Birthday. I was supposed to be graduating the next week not be put into the ground. We will never get over losing a child we do learn in time to live in spite of losing them. Sometimes getting out of bed is the biggest accomplishment will be make that day. A fair number of us end up with failing health because of the stress we have gone through. I can hear a siren come down our street and it can through me right back 17 years ago when I was praying for help to get to us faster. It took three 911 calls that was totally unexceptable. What were people supposed to say to us. Damn sorry glad it wasn’t me. We know what to say to another parent who lost their child we cry for another parent who has lost a child because we know how devastating it is and what’s in store for them.

  34. Hello Pat. Three years ago my only son, who was 50, died by suicide. He left no explanation. In my heart, it could have happened last year, or last week, or yesterday. Only God has kept me upright, instead of leaving me curled up in a fetal position. He has helped me understand what the Bible means when it says that when I am weak, He is strong. I realize that not everyone trusts or even believes in God, and I’m very thankful that I DO believe because I haven’t always. After the suicide, I made a vow to spend the rest of my life trying to glorify Jesus and honor my son’s memory. I wish you peace that passes understanding.

  35. Firstly, Thanks for the ideas. It’s not easy to not sound like a Cliche at times. “Like apples of Gold in Silver carvings is a word spoken at the right time. Proverbs 25:11.
    Here are some I have used and paraphrased onto cards and flowers I’ve sent.
    Psalms 34:18 About the Broken Hearted – Psalms 55:22 Throw your burdens on Jehovah… –
    Philippians 4:13 Having strength… – 1 Peter 5:7 Throw your anxiety on Him…-
    Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope… –
    Ecclesiastes 3:4 A time to weep…-
    Isaiah 40:29 He gives power to the tierd one…
    Hope some of these can be useful

  36. Please don’t tell a griever to “be strong.” What does that even mean? They don’t have to be “strong.” Believing that they do is one of the biggest hindrances to healthy grieving. The best way to cope with loss is to grieve, to allow the pain that is a normal natural response to loss. That’s how we heal; we don’t heal by denying and pushing aside the pain or keeping a stiff upper lip. Offering support as someone who understands that they need to grieve and mourn and who will simply “be” with them through it, not trying to make it better for them (because you can’t!), is the best “condolence.”


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