If you have a friend who has lost a parent, your words of comfort may be just what they need to hear. Losing a parent is one of the most challenging things a person can go through, and it’s often hard to know what to say. However, it’s crucial to know that there are no perfect words that will help someone get past the grief of losing a mother or father.
You may feel like you’re not saying the right words when you talk with a friend about their loss. If you’ve never suffered a loss yourself, you may wonder how people know what to say. But the truth is, simply being there for your friend and listening to them is one of the best things you can do.
So let’s look at what you can say to someone who has lost a parent.
What to Say to Someone Who Lost a Parent
Let’s start with the services the family may plan. Attending the funeral or memorial can help a dear friend feel supported.
However, there’s not much time to talk with the grieving family at a funeral. There are many people grieving the loss and trying to speak with the family. Often, you go through a receiving line and shake hands with and offer condolences to each family member.
When you reach your friend, you’ll want to say more than “I’m sorry for your loss,” so let’s go deeper into what you can say to someone whose parent has passed away.
When it’s your turn to talk with your friend, you can start by offering your condolences. Condolences are comforting words to tell someone you care about what has happened.
Step 1: Offer Condolences:
- “She will be greatly missed. May I offer my deepest condolences?”
- “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
- “I want to express sympathy for your loss. I’m sure it’s extremely difficult to go through this.”
- “I know this is a difficult time, but my thoughts are with you and your family as you grieve.”
After you state your condolences, it’s a good idea to add a short personal thought and then end your interaction with an offer to help.
Step 2: Add a Personal Message/ Share Memories
With a mom’s or a dad’s death, children need to remember their lives and hear stories about how they impacted others.
- “Your father’s passing away hurts my heart. I have so many fond memories of fishing with you and your dad. I will never forget how much I learned about life from him!”
- “Your Mom made a huge difference in my life growing up. She had such a selfless nature and always ensured I had cute clothes. She also gave me your hand-me-downs every year. I will never forget your mother’s caring way toward me.”
- “He lived a remarkable life, always giving a smile and a chat to anyone who needed a friend. He will be sorely missed.”
- “Your mother was a special woman and always a kind person. She was a good listener and helped me through a tough time with her sympathetic ear.”
- “He was a wonderful man! My favorite memory of your father was when we got lost on that hiking trip back in 2002. I wouldn’t have wanted to go through that with anyone else.”
- Your mother was such as caring person and an amazing woman. I have great memories of her teaching my 5th-grade class. She made learning fun for us.”
- Your dad was a wonderful person who always had kind words to share with me at work. I can’t imagine a better co-worker the past 15 years.”
Step 3: End With an Offer
Whether you are close to the person who lost a parent or not, you may want to give them something to hold onto in case things get more difficult for them. Here are some ideas of what to offer someone whose parent passed away.
- “I’ll check in with you this week to see how you’re doing.”
- “Let me know when you’re ready to come back to work. I can swing by and pick you up. Would love to buy you breakfast on our way in.”
- “If you need help with anything, you just let me know. I would feel honored to help in any way.”
- “I would love to bring some dinner by for you on Wednesday evening. Would that work for you? Just think about it, and I’ll send you a text soon.”
- “How about I bring your kids over for a playdate with my kids for a few hours this week? Maybe it would help them to get out of the house for bit, and give you a break? I’ll give you a call in a couple of days.”
- “You know I love grabbing coffee with you before work. I could bring you a cup and hang out for a bit later this week. I’ll text you.”
- “Your mother inspired me so much. I know you’re trying to clean out her house this next week, so call me if you want a hand. I’d be more than happy to help.”
- “You know I’m just a phone call away, right? If you need anything at all, I’m here. I would love just to listen as you talk about what happened. When my Mom passed away a couple of years ago, I felt so lost, and talking about it helped me.”
If you don’t see your friend at a service or other event, consider sending a sympathy card to express your care using the three steps above.
Consider What Not to Say
A parent’s death disrupts family peace and life and can make even a grown child feel like their world is falling apart. It’s easy to feel lost after a parent passes.
Thoughtful words for someone who lost a parent can help them keep moving forward despite grieving. Whether the parent passed away due to a terminal illness, old age, or a sudden emergency, the heartbreak and grief are real.
Grieving people need you to be careful what you say.
When you care deeply for someone, you think before you speak. Because saying the wrong thing can cause more pain during a time of significant loss.
Think before saying the phrases below. Often these types of sentiments do not help:
- “I know how you feel.” You can’t know how someone else feels when they go through the loss of a parent. It is okay to let them know how you felt when your parent died.
- “Time heals all wounds.” This is another phrase overused by those who have good intentions and mean well. However, when someone is grieving, it’s hard to conceive of a time when they will heal from this loss.
- “You’re lucky you have other family members.” Saying something this insensitive is sure to leave a person feeling worse than before. Having other people in your life doesn’t make losing a loved one any easier.
- “She is in a better place now.” Unless you share the same belief system and both believe that the deceased person is in a better place, this phrase is best left out.
- “It was God’s plan.” No matter how old or sick someone is, the death of a father or mother is shocking news for a child. Losing a father or mother is devastating whether the child is 4 or 45. Saying it was God’s plan invalidates the sadness that someone feels when they lose a parent.
Let a Grieving Friend Know You’re Only a Phone Call Away
If the person suffering the loss is a close friend, you’ll want to offer more than just a few words.
As a grieving person who lost a parent, your friend will feel grief in stages over the following months and years. It can help to send a heartfelt message every so often, letting them know that you’re there and understand that they are in pain.
For a friend who lost a mother, you might consider giving them a call on Mother’s Day to be a listening ear. Same for a friend whose father’s death impacted them in the past year. That first Father’s Day may be difficult, so be sure to tell them they matter to you.
When it comes down to it, a simple hug or gesture of compassion is often what’s needed most. A few selected words or thoughtful gestures will be remembered long after the event has passed. Let your friend know you care and are only a phone call away if they need anything.
Help Celebrate the Memory of This Amazing Person
Losing a family member leaves a hole in the fabric of a family. Families need a time to come together and grieve. Grieving is about remembering well.
At Renaissance Funeral Home and Crematory, we create beautiful and memorable events to help families and loved ones share memories together and find their way back to hope as they walk forward.