What to Say to Someone Who Lost a Parent (Best Advice)

July 3, 2023
What to Say to Someone Who Lost a Parent (Best Advice)

Losing a parent is an incredibly difficult experience, and knowing what to say to someone who has gone through this loss can feel overwhelming. While there are no perfect words that can take away their pain, offering your support and empathy can make a significant difference in their healing process. I

n this article, we will explore some compassionate and comforting things you can say to someone who has lost a parent, helping you provide comfort and be there for them during this challenging time.

When faced with the loss of a parent, it’s important to acknowledge the depth of their grief and express your condolences sincerely. Offering simple yet heartfelt statements like, “I am so sorry for your loss,” or “My deepest sympathies to you and your family,” can convey your support in a genuine and compassionate manner.

Sharing your own positive memories or stories about their parent can be a comforting way to honor their loved one’s life and provide a sense of connection. By being present, listening attentively, and offering your support, you can help your friend or loved one navigate the challenging journey of grieving the loss of a parent.

Offering Condolences

Losing a parent is an incredibly painful experience, and knowing what to say to someone who is going through this immense grief can be challenging. Here are a few suggestions on how to offer your condolences and provide support during such a difficult time:

  1. Express your sympathy: Begin by acknowledging the loss and expressing your deepest condolences. Keep your message sincere, simple, and heartfelt. Something like, “I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.”
  2. Share memories: If you had a personal connection with the parent who passed away, sharing a fond memory or story can bring comfort and remind the bereaved of the impact their loved one had on others. It shows that their parent’s memory lives on through shared experiences.
  3. Offer specific help: Grieving individuals often hesitate to ask for assistance, so offering specific ways you can support them can be incredibly valuable. For example, you could offer to help with funeral arrangements, cook meals, run errands, or simply lend an ear if they need to talk.
  4. Avoid clichés: While well-intentioned, some common phrases like “they’re in a better place now” or “time heals all wounds” can come across as insensitive or dismissive of the person’s pain. Instead, focus on acknowledging their grief and offering support without trying to minimize or fix their emotions.
  5. Be patient and understanding: Grief is a complex and individual journey, and there is no set timeline for healing. Allow the person to grieve at their own pace and be patient with any changes in their behavior or mood. Offer your support consistently and be there for them whenever they need it.

Everyone copes with loss differently, so the most important thing is to be there for the person and let them know you are available to support them in any way they need.

Sharing Memories and Stories

Losing a parent is a deeply emotional experience, and one way to support someone going through this difficult time is by sharing memories and stories. These personal anecdotes can provide comfort, bring back cherished moments, and honor the memory of their loved one. Here are a few ways you can offer this support:

  1. Listen and encourage – Give the grieving person an opportunity to talk about their parent and share their memories. Be a good listener, offering your undivided attention and empathy. Encourage them to open up by asking gentle questions, such as “Tell me more about your mom/dad” or “What was their favorite memory?”
  2. Share your own memories – If you knew the parent who passed away, sharing your own memories can provide solace and remind the grieving person that their loved one had a positive impact on others too. Be sensitive and choose stories that highlight their parent’s unique qualities or special moments you shared together.
  3. Create a memory jar – Consider creating a memory jar filled with handwritten notes or small objects that symbolize meaningful memories. Encourage friends and family to contribute their own memories or stories. Presenting this thoughtful gift to the grieving individual allows them to revisit these memories whenever they need comfort.
  4. Write a letter or tribute – Put your feelings into words by writing a heartfelt letter or tribute to the deceased parent. Share stories about how their presence in your life made a difference and how they will be remembered. This written keepsake can be a source of comfort for the bereaved, knowing that their parent’s impact was not forgotten.
  5. Organize a memorial gathering – Arrange a small gathering where friends and family can come together to share their memories and stories. This can be done in person or virtually, depending on the circumstances. Create a safe and supportive environment where everyone can openly express their feelings and pay tribute to the parent who has passed away.

Be mindful of the grieving person’s emotional state and boundaries. Sharing memories and stories should be a way to provide comfort and support, rather than overwhelming them with sorrow.

Listening and Providing Support

Losing a parent is an incredibly difficult and painful experience. During this time, it’s important to offer support and be there for someone who is grieving. Listening and providing support can make a significant difference in their healing process. Here are a few tips on how to effectively support someone who has lost a parent:

  1. Be present: Simply being there for the person can provide immense comfort. Offer your presence and let them know that you are available to listen whenever they need to talk. Sometimes, all they need is someone to sit with them in silence and offer a shoulder to lean on.
  2. Practice active listening: When they do decide to open up, actively listen to what they are saying. Maintain eye contact, nod to show your understanding, and provide verbal affirmations to let them know you’re engaged in the conversation. Avoid interrupting or offering unsolicited advice unless they specifically ask for it.
  3. Empathize: Grief can be complex, and everyone experiences it differently. Try to put yourself in their shoes and understand their emotions without judgment. Validate their feelings and let them know that it’s okay to grieve in their own way and at their own pace.
  4. Avoid comparisons: While it may be well-intentioned, comparing their loss to someone else’s or sharing stories of your own experiences can minimize their pain. Remember, this is their journey, and it’s important to focus on their feelings and needs.
  5. Offer practical help: Grieving can be overwhelming, and everyday tasks may become difficult. Offer specific ways you can help, such as cooking a meal, running errands, or taking care of household chores. Small gestures can go a long way in easing their burden.
  6. Respect their boundaries: Everyone copes with grief differently, so it’s crucial to respect their need for space and privacy. Be patient and understanding if they don’t feel like talking or engaging in social activities. Let them know you’re there whenever they’re ready.
  7. Check-in regularly: Grief is a long process, and it’s essential to continue offering support beyond the initial stages. Check-in regularly to see how they are doing, even after the funeral or memorial service. Remember, healing takes time, and your continued support can provide comfort throughout their journey.

Being a supportive presence for someone who has lost a parent is about showing compassion, patience, and understanding. By listening attentively and providing support, you can help them feel heard, validated, and loved during this challenging time.

Avoiding Insensitive Remarks

Losing a parent is an incredibly difficult experience, and it’s important to choose our words carefully when offering comfort and support. Sometimes, even with the best intentions, we may accidentally say something that can be hurtful or insensitive to someone who is grieving. Here are a few guidelines to help avoid making such remarks:

  1. Avoid minimizing their pain: It’s crucial to acknowledge the magnitude of their loss and avoid belittling their grief. Phrases like “I know how you feel” or “Time heals all wounds” may come across as dismissive. Instead, offer empathetic statements like “I can’t imagine how you must be feeling right now” or “I’m here for you whenever you need to talk.”
  2. Steer clear of cliches: While phrases such as “Everything happens for a reason” or “They’re in a better place now” may be well-intentioned, they can often come across as empty platitudes. Grieving individuals may find more comfort in genuine expressions of sympathy and support. Try saying things like “I’m so sorry for your loss” or “I’m here to listen if you want to share memories.”
  3. Avoid comparisons: Refrain from comparing their loss to any other personal experiences of grief. Each person’s journey is unique, and they may find it unhelpful or invalidating to hear phrases like “I know how it feels, I lost my grandparent.” Instead, focus on their individual experience by asking open-ended questions like “How are you coping?” or “Is there anything specific you need right now?”
  4. Be careful with religious or spiritual beliefs: While some people find solace in their faith during times of loss, it’s essential to respect everyone’s beliefs (or lack thereof). Phrases like “They’re in a better place” or “God has a plan” may not resonate with everyone. Instead, offer support by saying things like “I’m here to lend a listening ear, no matter what you believe.”

The key is to be present, compassionate, and understanding when comforting someone who has lost a parent. By avoiding insensitive remarks and focusing on their unique experience, we can provide the support they truly need during this difficult time.

Offering Practical Help

Losing a parent is an incredibly difficult experience, and during this time, practical help can make a real difference. Here are a few ways you can offer your support:

  1. Assist with daily tasks: Offer to take care of errands, such as grocery shopping, cooking meals, or picking up dry cleaning. These seemingly small tasks can be overwhelming for someone grieving, so lending a hand can provide much-needed relief.
  2. Provide transportation: Grieving individuals may have appointments to attend or need to run important errands. Offering to drive them to these destinations can alleviate some of the stress and logistical challenges they may face.
  3. Offer childcare support: If the person who lost a parent has young children, offering to look after them for a few hours or even overnight can provide them with some much-needed rest and time to process their emotions.
  4. Help with funeral arrangements: Funerals can be emotionally and physically draining to organize. Offer your assistance in arranging logistics, making phone calls, or supporting them during the planning process.
  5. Be a good listener: Sometimes the most helpful thing we can do is simply be there to listen. Grieving individuals may want to share their memories, fears, or concerns. Create a safe space for them to express themselves without judgment.

Every grieving person is unique, so it’s important to ask how you can provide support and respect their wishes. Avoid making assumptions or imposing your own ideas of what may be helpful.

Offering practical help can go a long way in easing the burden for someone who has lost a parent. Your support and understanding will be greatly appreciated during this difficult time.


Losing a parent is an incredibly difficult experience, and knowing what to say to someone who is grieving can be challenging. However, by offering your support and showing empathy, you can provide comfort during this time of immense sadness. Here are a few key points to keep in mind when offering condolences:

  • Be present: Simply being there for your loved one can make a world of difference. Your presence shows that you care and are there to support them through their grief.
  • Listen actively: Allow the person to openly express their feelings and emotions. Avoid interrupting or offering solutions; instead, offer a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on.
  • Acknowledge their pain: It’s important to validate their grief and acknowledge the enormity of their loss. Express your condolences sincerely and let them know that you are there for them.
  • Avoid clichés: While well-intentioned, phrases like “everything happens for a reason” or “time heals all wounds” can be dismissive and unhelpful. Instead, offer genuine sympathy and compassion.
  • Offer practical support: Grief can be overwhelming, and your loved one may appreciate practical assistance. Offer to help with household chores, errands, or meal preparation to lighten their load during this difficult time.
  • Remember important dates: Birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays can be particularly challenging for someone who has lost a parent. Reach out and offer your support during these times, letting them know you are thinking of them.
  • Be patient: Grief is a highly individual process, and everyone heals at their own pace. Understand that the person may have good and bad days, and be patient with their emotions.

There is no perfect thing to say to someone who has lost a parent. The most important thing is to show up, listen, and offer your genuine support.

Your presence and empathy can make a significant difference in their healing journey.