What do you write to someone who’s bereaved?

Ironically, just two days after writing about sending love, prayers, and pure compassion when you can’t be there for someone physically — or when it seems words just won’t do — the most beautiful array of solicitous messages appeared in my email box. They were expressions of sympathy, support, and hope meant not for me, but for someone in a private, relatively small Google group to which I belong. The person, who I’ll call “Beth” to protect her privacy, had experienced an unthinkable loss, and posted a message about it, which we all received and of course wanted to respond to.

Though I won’t share names or details (I’ve created pseudonyms for the comforters as well), I do want to share some of what people wrote. Perhaps when you can’t find the words, these simple messages of sympathy and empathy can help you comfort someone who’s experienced a loss. Such expressions are like a soothing salve; they can’t heal the deep wounds, but they may help assuage the pain.

I hope these online missives of compassion hearten you as they did me, and please let us know: what do you write to someone who has lost a loved one, when there is no greeting card to pave the way? And has anyone written something very special to you during a time of bereavement that you’d like to share?

With hope,

Beth, when I read your message my heart sank knowing how devastated you must feel. Know that those of us across the country who know you through this group are all there with you, and are here to give you strength when you need it. You are in my prayers daily.

Dear Beth,
I cannot comprehend how difficult this time must be for you. I am so, so sorry. Know that we are all thinking of you, and wishing you strength as you deal with so much grief.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours during this difficult time. I cannot imagine the grief you must be experiencing. May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Dearest Beth,
My heart breaks for you, and I am sending so much love and so many prayers. Thank you for letting us know.
With deepest sympathy,

I am so sorry for your loss. You and yours are in my prayers during this time of great loss.

Beth, I’m so deeply sorry to hear of your loss. My heart, thoughts and prayers are with you during this very sad time. Cindy

Beth, I’m so deeply sorry to hear of your loss. My heart, thoughts and prayers are with you during this very sad time. Janice

Dear Beth,
I can only imagine the shock and devastation that you must be experiencing. I am so sorry. I hope you will feel the strength and love from the many people who care about you and your family.
Peace and prayers,

I am sorry for the loss of your mother and brother, you and your family will be in my prayers.

I send my condolences to you and your family as you face this tragedy. May you maintain hope for a brighter future through the sorrow.

I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

This post originally appeared on Lori’s CarePages blog, "what helps. what hurts. what heals."
For more information about how to support people with cancer or are suffering, please visit www.LoriHope.com.


  1. Thanks for these Lori. I am an extremely introverted person and not always be able to freely express emotion. I always feel so out of words when I need to call someone who is grieving.

  2. Prachi, I can't tell you how great it makes me feel to know that this is of help to you and, therefore, others when they are hurting. Thank you for posting that. You are a gift, and the fact that you are here in this community speaks volumes, even if you're not comfortable showing your emotions. Actions do speak more loudly than words.

    Warm wishes,


    Lori Hope