It’s something that has likely happened to most of us. Someone you know recently lost a loved one and you want to let them know you’re thinking about them in the days, weeks or months to follow. When you are unable to comfort your friend or family member in person, a thoughtful text message can make just as much of an impact, letting them know you care and are there to support them. However, knowing what to text to someone who is grieving can be tricky.
Each person’s experience with loss and grief is unique, but the one thing that is universal is that the loss of a loved one is followed by a difficult and emotional time. During times of grief, compassion and support make a world of difference to someone, letting them know they’re not alone in their healing experience.
Often when someone is grieving, they may be constantly surrounded by family and friends in the early days and weeks of their grief journey. While it can certainly help with feelings of isolation, entertaining guests around the clock can make the person who is grieving feel a bit emotionally tapped out. As a result, they may not have the energy to respond to each visitor or phone call. Sending a quick text message is one way you can reach out to them during a difficult time without the pressure of them having to engage or respond immediately.
Sure, there are the typical sentiments people are flooded with from well-intended family and friends, but you may find yourself wanting to express your care and sympathy in a more heartfelt and memorable way. Here are seven unique text message ideas to send that may help provide support and comfort as they move through the grief process.
1. Instead of “Sending prayers!”, try:
“We’ve included you and your family in the prayer request at our church. Please know you have the support of our entire faith community during this difficult time.”
People are typically inundated with this sentiment, which is certainly not a negative thing, but being a bit more specific will help keep your message memorable as they’re navigating through their grief journey. It’s also important to be mindful of their religious beliefs, as they may not be the same as yours.
2.Instead of “Keeping you in my thoughts”, try:
“I’ve been thinking about you, would you like to meet for coffee soon?”
“There’s no need to respond, but I just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking about you.”
As someone who has experienced a close loss, I can attest that just knowing that my friends, family and neighbors are keeping me in mind and haven’t forgotten about me or my loved one really does help provide a great deal of comfort. Grief can be very isolating, and sometimes having an offer for something social goes a long way. Having plans with a friend for coffee or knowing that a family member is stopping by later in the week is something positive to look forward to when the days tend to run together in a fog of grief.
3. INSTEAD OF "LET ME KNOW IF I CAN HELP", TRY:
“I am planning on bringing dinner (or mowing your lawn, etc.), what day would work best?”
“We would like to handle the snow removal for your driveway this winter so it’s one less thing for you to worry about. Please let me know if you are OK with this.”
Oftentimes when people are grieving, even everyday tasks become seemingly difficult to accomplish. It seems like every neighbor or casual friend tends to offer up help, which is truly comforting and goes a long way in helping someone feel like part of a caring community when they need it the most. But the odds that they’re going to call up someone outside their close inner circle when they can’t muster up the energy to take the kids to school or when the water heater is on the fritz are slim. They’re most likely going to lean on those closest to them who they know will help without hesitation or expecting anything in return.
Instead, if you are truly willing to offer your time or expertise, be thoughtful and politely insistent in your offer so that they don’t have to provide a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, but rather a ‘when’. This eliminates any guilt they may feel for accepting help when they need it most and takes the burden of reaching out and asking for help off their shoulders.
4. instead of "everything happens for a reason", try:
“Sometimes we don’t know why things happen the way they do, but rest assured that the right people are brought into your life at the right time, and I’m here for you when you need me.”
“What you’re going through just stinks. I hope it brings you some comfort though, in knowing that you are surrounded by people who love you and are here to support you as you go through this difficult time.”
There are some situations where there are just no words that will match your feelings, and there are times in life when things just don’t make any sense. This is typically when people will rely on their faith, however if you’re unsure of their beliefs, it’s best to keep your messaging secular to be sensitive of their religious affiliation.
5. instead of "it'll get easier with time", try:
“I can’t begin to fully understand the hurt you’re going through right now, but I know that deep pain means there was also deep love for [NAME] and he/she will be greatly missed.”
“[NAME] was such a wonderful person. I’ll never forget…[reference a happy memory you shared with their loved one].”
At some point in the grief journey, it’s natural for someone to feel like their whole world is consumed with the loss of their loved one, while everyone else’s lives tend to move on. While it’s true that the world will continue to spin each day, and normal activities will eventually resume at some point in time, this doesn’t mean that their loved one is being forgotten. It’s important to remind them that it’s OK to talk about their loved one – it’s how they’re able to keep their memory alive, which helps promote healing and connection with others.
6. instead of "how are you holding up?", try:
“Just a friendly reminder today to do something that brings you joy!”
“Be gentle on yourself in the days ahead and know that simply eating, drinking lots of water and getting a good night’s sleep should be the main things on your to-do list.”
When people are grieving, especially in the first days and weeks, it’s easy to let basic physical needs go on the wayside. Everyday routines are thrown out the window and replaced with big emotions and all the many things that are needed after someone passes away (125 or more tasks, in fact!). Sending a quick text serves as a gentle reminder to make time for some much-needed self-care.
7. instead of "you'll move on eventually, it's what he/she would want", try:
“I’d love to hear stories and happy memories you have of your loved one when you’re ready to share. [NAME] lived a great life and it’s through these memories that you can keep their spirit alive in your heart.”
“There’s no timeline on grief and everyone processes it differently. Take all the time you need to focus on yourself and know it’s OK to not be OK sometimes.”
While there is not a how-to handbook on grief (though wouldn’t that be useful!), and it's tough to always know the perfect thing to say to support a friend or family member who is grieving, sending a text message may seem like a small gesture, but it goes a long way in letting someone know that they are in your thoughts and that you’re there to provide support as they grieve. It’s important to make sincere offers and be genuine in your outreach without expectations of an immediate response. By providing your love and support, you serve as a source of strength and hope, reminding them that no one is alone in their grief.
Text messages can also offer a meaningful way for funeral home staff members to support families after the loss of a loved one. Our team of live text message responders can send customized text messages to the families your firm has served, helping you become part of their support network when they need it most. To learn more about text-based aftercare, contact your Homesteaders account executive.