Death is a difficult thing to deal with under any circumstances. When someone dies unexpectedly, it can be even more challenging. You may feel at a loss for what to say to someone who has lost their loved one. It is important to remember that your presence and support are more valuable than any words you could say. However, if you want to offer some comfort, here are a few ideas of what to say when someone dies unexpectedly.

What to Say When Someone Dies Unexpectedly

You’re not the only one struggling to find the “right” words when someone loses a loved one unexpectedly. No one has words that make it all better. However, saying something kind is better than saying nothing at all. 

Just being there for the grieving person can make a world of difference. Start by expressing your condolences. Some of the common ways that people express their sorrow include:

  • “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
  • “Your loved one will be missed.”
  • “If there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know.”
  • “I’m keeping you in my thoughts.”
  • “You’re in my prayers.” (if you pray and this will not offend them.)

Offer Your Support

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So, your actions may mean more than just your words. It’s okay when you don’t know what to say when someone dies unexpectedly. There are many ways to offer support to a grieving friend.

If you’re good at listening and empathizing, ask your friend if they’d like to grab a cup of coffee one morning or if you can bring (or order) dinner one night and sit with them.

If you’re better at supporting in other ways, offer to help with something they feel overwhelmed with right now. For some people, help with planning a funeral or choosing a funeral home is what they need. Some technically challenged friends may need help getting a slideshow together too.

Others may just need someone to sit with them a little bit each day. Everyone is different. You probably know your friend and what they enjoy doing and also know what they also dread.

For some individuals, it might make sense to organize a night out at a restaurant with other friends and family to honor the person who passed on. To others, any kind of social event would be too much right now. 

When You Don’t Know How to Support

If you’re unsure how to be supportive, try asking questions. First, express your condolences and let your friend know you’d like to help. If they seem evasive and don’t want to discuss anything with you, it’s okay to let it go. Some people just need space.

However, if they simply say they are “fine” or “doing okay I guess,” you might try asking about specific ways you could help.

Start with one of these ideas:

  • “I know this has hit you hard, and I want to help. Please consider me at your disposal. Seriously. I want to help, whether it’s folding clothes, bringing food over, helping with your kids, or just sitting with you for a while.”
  • “Would you enjoy going to a movie matinee (golfing, walking, getting ice cream) with me this week to get your mind off of things? Would Wednesday morning be good for you?”
  • “How about you come for dinner one night this week? I’d love to have the company. Tuesday would work for me. Would that be good for you?”
  • “Are you getting enough sleep (food, nutrition)? Do you need help with anything that worries you so that you can rest more?” (If you know a great doctor or counselor, you might also give them a business card or phone number)
  • “How about if I stop by with doughnuts and coffee one morning this week? What day might work for you?” (or if they are health-conscious or gluten-free, substitute vegan waffles, fruit smoothies, fresh-cut fruit, or whatever they like)
  • “Do you need help with the kids this week? I could come over and stay a few hours and help keep them happy while you rest?”
  • “Would it be helpful if I took the kids out to McDonald’s and the park one day this week?”
  • “Do you have any errands hanging over your head that you just can’t cope with right now? I’d love to help. I’m a mean bill payer and can do laundry like a pro!” (If they don’t think of anything, let them know you’re available if they find a need later)
  • “I’d feel so much better about you right now if you’d let me come help with your household chores (kids, meal prep, laundry, etc.) a bit this week. It would make my heart happy to know that you’re taken care of during this tough time!”

Let Them Know They are Not Alone

Losing someone you love can leave a deep and gaping wound in place of feeling loved and cared for. Grieving individuals often feel alone, especially if they have lost a close family member. They may lack direction on how to take the next step.

Many individuals just need someone to listen to them talk through the pain of losing their loved one. They need to tell their story repeatedly until they can tell it without bawling and “ugly” crying the entire time. 

Someone who can listen without judgment and let them feel their deep sorrows out loud. Someone who allows them to be themselves. And they do not need to feel worried about entertaining you or others when trying to recover from loss.

One of the best ways to help a friend start talking about what they’ve lost is by sharing memories. Most people want to talk about what has happened and how they feel about it. Sharing your memories of the deceased person can also help the person struggling to share. Before you know it, you may both be laughing and crying at the same time. And that is what “good grief” is all about!

Worry Less, Be There More

If you struggle to find the right words, simply express your condolences and offer your support, whether by being there and listening or offering dinner or a break from home.

If they don’t need support now, they may need help once the shock from the unexpected death wears off. So, over time, continue to ask questions and pay attention to their needs in the future. The grief journey for a sudden, unexpected death is one in which individuals often need support for months or even years following the incident.

Your loved one will appreciate your kind words and support more than you could ever know.

We Can Help

At Renaissance Funeral Home and Crematory, we help you plan your next steps when an unexpected loss happens. Our beautiful and memorable funeral and memorial events help bring families closer together. 

We take care of the details for you when a loved one dies so that you can rest and spend time with your loved ones.  Contact us today to see how we can help you. We are here for you and your family.