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How do I speak to a bereaved person?

There are no magic words to take away the pain of losing a loved one. But through your kind words and actions you can make a world of difference to someone grieving a loved one…

  • Say Something…
    Words often fail us when they matter the most. Even if you’ve been through a bereavement yourself, it can be hard to know what to say to someone who is grieving the death of someone they loved. It’s this that leads to some people avoiding the bereaved for fear of awkwardness. But it’s important to acknowledge someone’s loss. The first step is to get in touch with the bereaved and let them know they are in your thoughts. The simple words, “I’m so very sorry for your loss,” lets the person know you care.

  • Share a Memory
    The ones we love live on through our memories, and the memories of others. If you knew the person who has died, you might consider sharing a memory or moment you had with the bereaved person. For example, if you knew how proud a mother was of her son, you could tell him this. To someone who is grieving, kind words and stories about their loved one can mean so much.

  • Helping Hands for Healing Hearts
    Being there to offer practical help to someone in the initial stages of grief can be a huge weight off their shoulders. When someone is grieving, simple tasks like going to the shop to buy a pint of milk can be daunting. Ask how you can help, and be proactive… do the shopping, take care of the dog, or bring around a coffee.

  • Be Patient and Forgiving
    In the first few weeks after a bereavement, there is a lot to get done. But after the funeral is over and ‘life goes on’ for the rest of the world… that’s when a bereaved person can feel most alone. Keep checking in every once in a while, and invite them out to activities. Even if they say no, keep asking to show you are there when they’re ready.


Are you struggling to cope with loss?

Never forget that if you, or someone close to you, is struggling with the death of a loved one, the Irish Hospice Foundation is here for you. In 2020, we will be running a number of living with loss information evenings. if you’d like to attend, contact Iris on (01) 6730047 or email iris.murray@hospicefoundation.ie.


Visit bereaved.ie for resources on living with loss.

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