What should you say when someone passes away?


Quick Answer

When offering condolences after the death of a loved one, use honest phrases that express compassion and empathy. Standard phrases like "I'm sorry for your loss" are acceptable. Be sensitive to their moods and beliefs, and avoid anything with religious overtones unless certain of the reception. If you are unable to find the right words, offering gestures of support such as grocery shopping during times of bereavement is generally appreciated.

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Full Answer

Never trivialize someone's grief by offering personal opinions, even if the intentions are good. Always offer support and recognize that the person's emotions take precedence over your discomfort. Do not rationalize or attempt to explain away loss. Allow mourners to express the full range of their emotions.

Take cues from how the family or friend is mourning. If they are sharing personal anecdotes and memories of the deceased, it is appropriate and respectful to share and join the healing process. Do not encourage people to suppress or deny their grief. If appropriate, offer a compassionate and non-judgmental ear. Be aware that anger is a part of the grieving process and do not be shocked or condemn someone for resenting death.

Never put a timeline on loss or the mourning process, as this can upset and alienate people.

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