How to Support a Grieving Loved One via Text: According to a Grief and Bereavement ExpertBy Seasons | January 11, 2021
When someone we care about experiences the death of a loved one, we find ourselves faced with two difficult decisions:
- What is the best way to share my condolences and offer support? And;
- What exactly do I say?
When we first learn that someone we care about has lost a loved one, there is a natural impulse to want to offer comfort and support. We have countless methods to share our condolences and words of support – in person, by phone, email, letter, social media, or by texting. Ultimately our relationship with the grieving individual will determine what we feel is the best way to reach out.
Once we settle on the appropriate channel of communication, it’s normal to find ourselves confused about what to say. Here we hope to offer some perspective and tips on how to offer grief support via text message.
A few rules to consider
- Brief but sweet
When deciding what to say, it’s okay to keep your texts short. In fact, there are times when it’s highly recommended. Grief can be overwhelming, so a concise text might be all a person can process.
- Keep it simple
What matters most is that your words are said with care and concern. None of the phrases provided here are complicated. It’s the heart and intention that matter most. It’s acceptable to simply use the phrase, “I’m sorry for your loss” if it’s said with genuine care and concern. Remember, there are no words that can take away the pain of loss. There are, however, words that can help people feel less alone.
- Avoid euphemisms
Avoid using euphemisms like “Everything happens for a reason,” or “They are in a better place.” Unless you know that your grieving loved one believes these things to be true, hearing them can be exceptionally hurtful. Consider using the language provided here.
Where to start?
It can be hard to know where to begin. Below are some phrases that you can use to help get you started. Remember, keep it simple and speak from the heart. If any of these prompts speak to you then begin there and add your own words to make an authentic offer of comfort and support.
“… I’m so sorry…”
“…I heard about your (enter relationship: mom, dad, brother, sister, spouse, child. etc.)…”
“…I can’t imagine how you must be feeling right now…”
“…I don’t have the words…”
“…I know you’re busy being with family right now, you don’t have to reply…”
“…Just know that I’m thinking of you and I’m here…”
“…I’d really love to support you right now…”
“…Please let me know what I can do big or small to help make your days easier…”
“…Here for you…”
If you need help right now, Seasons is here to offer hope and support during a time of profound change in your life. We have specialists who can help support you and connect you to resources that can help, and you can reach us at any time.
About the Author: Joshua Magariel, LCSW, is a National Director of Patient Experience at Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care. Josh specializes in grief and loss education and support as well as marriage and family therapy. Josh is a national presenter and author on creative applications of attachment theory in grief therapy. Josh earned his B.A. in Religious Studies at the University of Kansas and his MSW at the University of Denver. Josh has completed an AAMFT accredited Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy from the Denver Family Institute. Josh is a ten-year veteran of hospice having served in patient care, bereavement, leadership, and education.