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What to Say in a Condolence Text Message

When someone passes away, it can be difficult to know what to say, regardless of who it is. If you're unable or don’t feel comfortable visiting or calling someone, sending condolences in the form of text messages can provide comfort and solace to the bereaved. If you've never done it before, here's where to start.

When you should send a condolence message via text

Expressing your sympathy is a way to show the bereaved that you care, even from afar. Though sending a condolence message via text is convenient, it may not always be the best route to supporting a friend or loved one. Here are a few situations in which a phone call or in-person message may be better:

  • When the person is a close friend, family member or significant other
  • If you notice the bereaved is having a hard time processing their grief
  • If you feel more comfortable expressing condolences face-to-face
  • If it's someone who lives relatively close to you or who you frequently see in-person

In general, it can help to express condolences either in-person or by a phone call when one of the above statements is true. If you're unable to do so, texting a condolence message is a useful alternative. You may also find yourself in a situation where a friend or family member has texted you to share news about a death.

What to avoid when sending condolences through text messages

A condolence text message should be concise, respectful and compassionate but shouldn't be so concise that it comes across as cold or uncaring. When writing a condolences text, it's important to avoid certain phrases that may unintentionally cause offense or discomfort to the bereaved.

Here are some examples to generally avoid:

  • Avoid blaming anyone or anything for the passing of their loved one – even if there was an unavoidable cause of death like illness or age (e.g. 'It's because of all the stress X put them under.').
  • Avoid making assumptions about how the bereaved is feeling or what they are going through (e.g. 'I know exactly how you feel.'). Everyone handles grief differently and it's important to be respectful of this.
  • Avoid giving advice on how the bereaved should grieve, especially if you haven't gone through a similar experience yourself (e.g. 'I know it's hard but you really shouldn't be isolating right now.'). Simply expressing condolences and conveying your sympathy is enough.
  • Avoid making comparisons between different people’s experiences of grief, even if you mean well (e.g. 'Think of how hard X had it when they lost their dad...').
  • Avoid mentioning any spiritual beliefs or suggesting that the passing of their loved one was in any way for a greater purpose or plan (e.g. 'God works in mysterious ways.).
  • Avoid relying on common text message abbreviations and emojis as a way to express your sympathy (e.g. 'So sry 4 ur loss rip :(‘ ).

While your friend is probably going to forgive you for one of these common blunders, it can cause undue stress or pain to them to hear their grief be belittled or minimized. Even if it's truly how you feel, it can help to ask yourself, "Is this going to help the bereaved?"

How to comfort someone over text after a death

Writing condolences via text can be difficult. It's important to remember that you're writing this message out of compassion and kindness, not obligation and that this isn't a typical text conversation. Here's some ways you can feel confident in comforting someone over text after they've experienced a loss:

  • Acknowledge the loss. You don't have to go into too much detail, but simply acknowledging the heaviness they must be feeling can make them feel seen and witnessed.
  • Express your sympathy. You don't need to overextend yourself or say something that you don't mean, but a few kind words like "I'm so sorry for your loss" can be meaningful in times of grief.
  • Offer a listening ear and support. Let the bereaved know that you are available to talk to if they feel like it, or can provide assistance in any way that you can. (Tip: Instead of asking them to reach out to you if they need anything, make a concrete offer to do something for them (e.g. 'Let me know when I can swing by and drop off some groceries.').
  • Share your favorite memory of their loved one. Sharing a fond memory of the person who passed away can be a comforting gesture of remembrance and can let them feel as though their loved one's memory will survive.

Feel free to express your sympathies in any way you feel is genuine, but following these guidelines can help you feel confident when supporting the bereaved during their time of grief.

What to say when sending condolence text messages

These templates below can help provide you with some ideas for sending your condolences via texts.

  • I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. {Name} will be deeply missed, but not forgotten. Please know that my thoughts are with you during this difficult time.
  • My heart goes out to you and your family in this painful time of grief. May {Name}'s memory bring you comfort.
  • Sending condolences and love, my thoughts are with you during this hard time. I'd like to drop by some groceries sometime this week–please let me know a good time on Monday or Thursday.
  • Thinking of you in this difficult moment and sending our heartfelt condolences. {Name} was so incredibly impactful and important to all who knew {him/her/them} and their loss is felt deeply.
  • I'm so sorry for your loss. I am here for you and am ready to help in any way I can. Please let me know if you're open to me dog sitting your pups for a while as you navigate this loss. My home is open to you and yours.
  • Words cannot express how saddened I am to hear about your loss. My condolences are with you and your family during this time of grief. I've cooked a few casseroles and would like to drop them off -- please let me know a day this week that works for you.
  • Please accept my condolences, may the memories of {Name} bring comfort to you in this challenging time.

No matter what words you choose to say in a condolence text message, it is important to remember that words alone will not heal the pain of a loss. It is important to show your condolences with actions if possible, whether that be sending a gift, donating your time or contributing to a cause in their name or simply offering moral support during this time by being with them physically to help them handle all of the tasks they need to get through.

One way you can offer help is by handling logistical tasks for the bereaved as there are many things to handle after someone has passed away. Offering to handle tasks for them can alleviate a lot of stress and can help them feel like they can focus on their grief, rather than the logistics. You can see what kind of tasks need to be accomplished by using a free checklist on Ever Loved.

Use the checklist

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Last updated March 13, 2023
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