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What To Say When Someone Dies


● Focus On Them

● Share Happy Memories

● Rehearse What To Say

● Actions Not Words

One of the hardest things to do, even for those with the gift of the gab, is to know what to say when someone dies. In some cases, people tend to avoid saying anything or being present because they don’t want to say the wrong thing. Or it could be that the grief and high emotion makes them uncomfortable. It’s important to remember that losing someone is part of life and knowing that there is support available can make the experience easier to endure. We have provided some information bellow to help you in this situation.

Focus On Them

Avoid making the situation about you and sharing your experiences of loss. Focus on their situation and read how they are reacting. Often people experiencing grief can’t take a lot in and just want to know they have support. So, offer it to them. Make this about them and their importance even though they have lost someone they love.

Listening is one of the best things you can do for someone who is grieving. When they talk about what they are going through this is a great way of them processing their experience and getting through it. Knowing that a friend or family member is listening can make a big difference.

Share Happy Memories

One way to lighten feelings momentarily and connect with the person who is grieving in a positive way is to share a happy memory. Timing is everything however, so be aware if this is something they would be receptive to in that moment. Generally sharing happy memories is done during the wake or service after the funeral, but if you are close to the person then you will also know when sharing memories will have a positive effect.

Another reason sharing memories can help is because you knew the person who passed away in a different way, so you may share memories that they had never heard before. This can be a real comfort to them and help them move through their grief in small positive steps.

Rehearse What To Say

There is nothing wrong with having a few lines prepared ahead of time. If you know you’re going to be talking to a lot of people in a short space of time, such as before a funeral service, this can be especially useful. Having lines ready to go doesn’t mean you’re being any less honest or genuine, it simply means you’ll feel comfortable in saying something that will help.

Some examples of what you can say

● I am so sorry for your loss.

● I wish I had the right words, just know I care and I’m here if you need someone to listen.

● We want you to know we’re thinking of you.

● I don’t know what to say, except that I’m so sorry. There are no words.

● If you need to talk, I’m here for you.

● I understand this must be so hard for you.

● We all loved “Amanda”. She had a way of making people smile.

● He’s going to be missed so much.

Actions Not Words

It can be difficult to know what is right or wrong in these emotionally heavy situations. It can help if you pause, assess your surroundings and the grieving person’s demeanour, and try to understand what they want or need. In circumstances where the death is sudden, people can be so caught up in their grief they don’t know which way is up.

Sometimes if you don’t know what to say, saying something isn’t as important as showing up and being there. Something as simple as a hug can go a long way.

A quick “is it ok to give you a hug” can make all the difference to their comfort. An arm or shoulder touch can also convey as much support as a hug, and small errands speak to how much you’re thinking of them.

There is a lot to consider when preparing a funeral and it can be an emotional time. H.Parsons are experts in caring for you and your loved ones and we are committed to ensuring your service is personal, respectful and dignified. Make sure you talk to our team via our contact form, calling (02) 4228 9622 or visiting us at one of our locations.

H.Parsons, your Australian family owned and operated funeral director, serving the Illawarra since 1893.


Talking to someone who is experiencing loss can be difficult. Here are some easy ways to make the situation less awkward for everyone involved.

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