Three ways to respond to condolences after a death

There are lots of articles that tell people what to say when a person dies, but as the grieving person, how do you respond?

Next time someone says, "I'm sorry for your loss," consider these three tips from our founder and CEO, Emma Payne:

If they knew the person who died...

If the person offering condolences knew your person who died, consider reciprocating with an acknowledgment of your shared loss: "I know this is hard for you too." They are also grieving in their own way and having you recognize their mutual pain may offer them some comfort. Plus, it's an easy, one-sentence way to remind each of you that you're not alone.

If they didn't know the person who died...

If the person offering condolences didn't know your person who died, say, "I appreciate you acknowledging that." This heartfelt response shows them that you welcome their condolences. They might even feel more comfortable talking about your loss again in the future. It may feel awkward for them to offer condolences for someone they didn't know in life. Your positive reinforcement can feel like a sort of encouragement to keep talking about your person who died.

If you have time to talk...

If you have the time and energy to continue a conversation, a wonderful way to respond to condolences is to share a story about your person who died. You might also invite the person who offered condolences to do the same! It can feel good to tell stories, especially if the three of you have a shared history together.


To receive more tips on how to navigate life after a death, sign up for Grief Coach texts.

Next Three texts to send a friend grieving the sudden, unexplained death of an infant or child, in partnership with Red Nose Australia