The 2021 Guide:
What to say when a loved one dies

pensive young lady thinking of sympathy words while writing condolence message

WHAT TO SAY WHEN SOMEONE PASSES AWAY: ATTICUS ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SHARING SYMPATHY & CONDOLENCES

Losing someone you love is one of the most difficult and emotionally raw experiences life has to offer. And while it’s true what they say— “the deeper the pain, the deeper you loved”— that sage wisdom does little to curb the unavoidable, nostalgic yearn for one’s physical company. But beyond the grief, honoring one’s life can also be one of the most beautiful and angelic experiences, as it allows surviving family and friends the opportunity to reflect upon a well-lived life full of purpose, passion and love. 

For these reasons, close friends and family members may often feel a mixed range of emotions. Perhaps even at the same time. And because it’s hard to know exactly how someone might be grieving the loss of a loved one, it can be equally as challenging to think through sharing ‘the right’ condolence message, sympathy quote, supportive card or sympathy gift. 

So we conducted hands-on research in order to compile this ultimate guide of what to say when someone passes away. If you’re searching for the right words to share, please use this as a trusted guide when sharing your deepest sympathies.

Jump ahead to:

Tips for sharing your sympathies and condolences

Before we start, know that it is normal to feel uncertain or even anxious around how to comfort someone who has experienced a loss. And while there are certainly some common messages you should try to avoid, know any words of sympathy will convey a level of comfort. 

Here are some tips to keep in mind when sending or writing a condolence message or sharing sympathies to those who are grieving. 

  • When in doubt, K.I.S.S. - Keep it short and simple. “I am sorry for your loss” is still one of the best and most timeless condolences quote
  • There is no bright side. Your words will not make the individual feel better, but they will appreciate that you said something. Don’t ignore the situation 
  • Approach religion cautiously, unless it’s of a known or shared faith
  • It’s not about you. Just be there to listen. Validate their feelings. Hold their hand. Check-in. 
  • Take action. Don’t offer the usual “if you can think of anything...” just act, just do it. The last thing someone needs when grieving is the burden of letting you know when they need something. Just go drop off the dinner instead of asking them to let you know when they need it. Plan a play-date for younger kids out for a couple of hours or drop by to help with laundry. 
  • Never lead with “At least…. [don’t fill in the blank].” It does not make the situation, or loved one, feel any better (reference back to bullet point #2) 
  • Speak from the heart. There is no better time for authenticity than when sharing condolences. 
  • Most importantly, talk about the person that passed away. Tell stories, share memories. When mourning, people don’t want to feel as though their loved ones may be forgotten.

Atticus Pro Tip - Write down the date in your calendar or phone and be sure to follow up with heartfelt sympathies or a supportive message every year on the anniversary of their memorial. Processing loss is a lifelong journey and the thoughtfulness of remembering to honor one's legacy date means more to our loved ones than they'll ever admit.

Processing loss is a lifelong journey and the thoughtfulness of remembering to honor one's legacy date means more to our loved ones than they'll ever admit.

The story of life is something to marvel at. And celebrating it— even more so. During our lifetime we each experience many chapters and end up sharing those moments across a broad cast of loved ones.

To some we are family. To others, dear friends. Then there’s our coworkers, who we ironically spend the most time with, yet still don’t open ourselves up to nearly as much as we do with a spouse or significant other/life partner. And pets and children, neighbors and siblings... the list goes on.

And while every person reflects a unique mindset, perspective, personality, or relationship, each person also weaves that unique influence into the fabric of our hearts, which we then carry into our own connections to one another. In this way, though we’re all unique, we’re also all deeply connected as social beings at our core. 

After all, it’s this kaleidoscope of influences that shape and mold us into our beautifully unique souls that others love. It’s also what compels us to express ourselves in our own individual way. And through the countless conversations we’ve had, it’s evident there is no time when this is more appreciated than when sharing condolences or sympathy for a loved one.

Below are some of our favorite sympathy messages that others have shared with us, broken down by common types of relationships with loved ones. 

Atticus condolences sympathy gift in lieu of flowers

Condolences for loss of a friend

The death of a friend is a loss that many of us experience more than once. Whether childhood friends or friends in adulthood, the love and support we get from our friends is invaluable. Friends often serve a foundational role in our lives, regardless of how often we might get to see or speak with one another. Recognize that others may have mixed reactions to the loss of a friend or that it is common for others to navigate the transition differently. And while it’s understandable that losing a friend can hurt, it’s important to continue honoring the role of friendships in your life. As they say, friends aren’t just icing on the cake of life— they are the cake.

“When my husband passed, it was beautiful to see his impact on the world be illuminated by all of the heartfelt condolences and sympathies pouring in from friends. I was amazed by the number of people he had touched and who called him such an incredible friend.” — T. L. in Athens, GA 💜

Here are some ways to express your condolences following the loss of a friend:

  • I was heartbroken to hear this news. Blessing to your entire family.
  • I'm so sorry for your loss. Their legacy and memories will live on through you, and boy were there some incredible memories.
  • Our deepest condolences. They are forever etched in the our heart and soul
  • We think of you daily and hope you are finding comfort during these difficult times.
  • The world lost a beautiful soul. She/He will be missed by so many.
  • What I would not give to hear their laugh or give them a big hug. What a sweet friend and dear soul. I will never forget all the beauty they taught me and the incredible times we shared.

Condolences for loss of a coworker

We work with people everyday, sure, but it goes without saying that we often end up spending even more time with coworkers than our own families. The workplace has many dynamics and when a team mate passes away, our entire organization can be impacted for months as the loss of a coworker or team mate is processed by everyone who knew them. In some cases, individuals and working teams may even take a couple of weeks off or schedule talks with a support group as it can take a while to regain a sense of motivation, purpose or regularity for certain team mates. Losing a coworker is deeply felt in and out of workday routines and office or workplace of a loved one’s coworkers. 

“We figured everything out together. Our team and company will never be the same. My heart hurts so deeply for the loss of my dear friend.” — J. F. in Mountain View, CA 💜

Here are some ways to express your condolences following the loss of a coworker:

  • I was fortunate to have worked with _______ and had many chances to see what a great leader they were. I will miss them dearly. Extending my sympathies to you and your family.
  • _______ was a legend in our office. She/he will always be in our hearts and a part of our working family. Our deepest condolences.
  • _______ will forever be in our thoughts and prayers, as it is impossible to forget someone who gave us so much to remember. 
  • I will always remember _______ for the infectious laughter and can-do spirit that they brought to any situation. I know our team and our company will never be the same without _______. I owe a debt of gratitude to him/her. 
  • _______ brought energy and passion to every room. I’ll never forget their laugh or ability to solve problems for our customers. He/She held us all accountable for doing the right thing. I am thankful for their friendship, advice and impact they made on our community. 
  • It is really hard to acknowledge that _______ will no longer be with us. They will always be remembered by the many people in and outside of our company. May their soul rest in peace. We will miss you dearly.
  • I was blessed to have _______ in my work life over the past years. I can not thank them enough for all of the selfless support and dedication they gave our team and me. Rest in peace knowing that you have made such a huge impact and imprint across so many of our hearts.

Condolences for loss of a grandparent

Grandparents are the heart and soul of a family. And while it’s a natural progression of life, the loss of a grandparent usually changes a family dynamic forever. It’s said that genetics often skip generations, which perhaps is part of the reason why the bond between a grandchild and grandparent is so dearly cherished. 

In moments when emotions are balanced and thoughtfulness abounds, it can be particularly warmhearted for friends to send a sympathy note or condolence message to any known grandchildren after the death of a grandparent. Including a memory or story about their grandparent can serve as a special keepsake for them in projecting the legacy and impact their lives created.

“My grandmother can never be replaced. I will forever carry her heart and soul with me through every thought and action. She was my anchor, my role model and my hero.” — C. H. in San Diego, CA 💜

Here are some ways to express your condolences following the loss of a grandparent:

  • You will carry their spirit within you forever. You embody so much of him/her. He/she loved you with all their heart. I am so sorry for your loss. 
  • The bond between you two is unparalleled. It will live on forever. 
  • I am so sorry for your loss. My deepest condolences as I know how much she/he meant to you and your family. I felt like I knew them based on all the stories you’ve told me. My heart is with you during this time of loss.
  • What a legacy and life full of passion, dedication and pure joy. They lived a life that was inspiring for everyone around them. I am deeply sorry for your loss and pray that you find comfort and peace from those around you during this time. 
  • I love you. I am so sorry for your loss. We will always be here for you during the best and worst of times. Sending our deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathies.
  • I am so sorry. I am heartbroken for you. May the lord help to heal your heart and give you peace during this time of loss.

Condolences for loss of a neighbor

Depending on whether you live in a home in the suburbs or in a high-rise in the city, the concept of a neighbor may have different meaning to you. And regardless of whether you’ve lived near a neighbor for a lifetime, or just a short time, neighbors are acquaintances that you interact with on a regular basis and often have a grounded existence in our daily schedules. Losing a neighbor can have an unexpected impact upon your routines and community interactions, particularly when replaced by the unfamiliar presence of a new neighbor.

“My heart goes out to the family of our lovely next door neighbors. They have been an extension of our home, hearts and whole community longer than I’ve lived here. They will be dearly missed.” — P. L. in Winter Park, FL 💜

Here are some ways to express your condolences following the loss of a neighbor:

  • It’s with a heavy heart and deepest sympathies for your loss that we are thinking of you guys everyday.
  • I'll always remember _______ with such fondness and warmth. Those memories I have will live on forever and be cherished for years to come.
  • You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Sharing all our love, now and forever.
  • My deepest condolences for your loss. He/She was such a wonderful person.
  • We feel blessed to have known _______ and their memory will live on in all of us.
  • My heart just aches for you. _______ was so wonderful. What I wouldn't give to hug you. Thinking of you and your sweet family during this difficult time. 
  • Here are some ways to express your condolences following the loss of a grandparent:

Condolences for loss of a wife

Losing a wife is devastating, regardless of whether the death occurs suddenly or due to a long term illness. The abrupt lifestyle transition from sharing routines, time and space with a spouse often triggers an emotional sense of loneliness, incompleteness and perception of being disconnected. The process in which one grieves the loss of a wife is unique and individual.

Thoughts and emotions may range from brokenhearted shock to anxiousness, anger or even a feeling of guilt for being the one who is still alive. It’s particularly important to surround loved ones following the death of a spouse to encourage a reaffirmed sense of purpose, ability to perform everyday activities and (ultimately) continued desire for social interaction. Here are some comforting words to share with a loved one as condolences following the loss of a wife. 

“There’s an entire story that’s deserving here, but not even that would sum up the triumph of our relationship. Losing my wife changed my day-to-day, but it could never change our love. I miss her dearly.”— K. B. in Boston, MA 💜

Here are some ways to express your condolences following the loss of a wife:

  • I am so sorry for your loss. Remembering your great love story today and always.
  • A lifetime together is never enough. I am thinking of both of you with so much love because you guys poured love to everyone.
  • I'll always remember the love in your eyes when you looked at each other. I am so sorry for your loss. 
  • I am heartbroken to hear of this news. I'm praying for you and your entire family. She is forever etched in our heart and soul. Our deepest condolences. 
  • What a lady! No words could adequately describe the pain you're having to go through. _______ will be missed greatly but the light she brought to so many live will leave an impression forever
  • Although she is gone the memories of her will live on forever. Her stories live on forever. Hold on to those and keep the memories alive. Sending you our love and prayers.
  • Your wife is irreplaceable and will never be forgotten. We will miss her more than words can say
  • Sending love, courage and the biggest hug. We will never forget _______. What an amazing time we all had together. 
  • _______ was one of the most wonderful and inspiring friends I knew. She always put others first and cared so deeply for everyone but herself. I am so sorry for your loss. We're if you need anything.

Condolences for loss of a husband

The grief following the death of a husband is life changing. One’s outward or internal responses may vary and frequently ranges from feeling shocked, numb and helpless, to fearful, anxious or even angry. Loss of a husband can create a shattered sense of self-identity and an overbearing feeling of new responsibilities, driving the surviving loved one inward towards a search for meaning, stability & longing for protection. It’s important to remember there are no rules about how one should feel, nor is there a right or wrong way to mourn. Regardless of the length of a couple's marriage or relationship together, a husband is someone they’ve committed to long-term plans with and have chosen to spend their life with. A husband’s individual charm, personality, sense of security or relational understanding can never be replaced. While there’s little more comforting than the gift of physical presence, heartfelt words are a close second. Here are a few ways for sharing condolences following the loss of a husband.

“When I lost my husband, I Iost my best friend. I lost my everything.” — A. J. in Cincinnati, OH 💜

Here are some ways to express your condolences following the loss of a wife:

  • We will all celebrate his incredible life and all the good he did. There will be tears but his memory won't be forgotten. He lives through us and you. You have our deepest sympathies for your loss.
  • Your husband was an inspiration to all. I looked up to him in so many ways. I'm going to miss him dearly and will be there for you whatever you may need.
  • your husband was the definition of an exceptional man. He made time for everyone and could light up any room. We can't express how much we will miss him. We are so deeply sorry for your loss. We are here if you need anything. 
  • I can't imagine the pain you are suffering, but I will always be here for you and am just a phone call away. I am so sorry. 
  • The memories I have of _______ are some of my fondest. Every time I think of him I can't help but smile. You and your entire family are in my constant thoughts and prayers.

Condolences for loss of a mother

Mothers are designed to love eternally. Not only in the way that we are so deeply loved by them, but also by the ways in which we love them so deeply. It’s embedded in their encouraging spirit, gentle embrace and forgiving nature. None know this to be more true than their children, as the direct recipients of their compassion and emotional generosity. And while the bond of a loving mother may be described as an endless kind of love, losing a mother can often feel like an abrupt rupture, leaving behind a profound chasm in our hearts. Yet beyond the sadness and grief, whether immediately or years later, our inherent fondness of a mothers subtle nature blossoms— the serendipitous reminder that Mothers inherently etch a synonymous sense of permanence into our hearts and lives.

“So I’ll sing hallelujah, You were an angel in the shape of my mum, When I fell down you’d be there holding me up, Spread your wings as you go, And when God takes you back we’ll say Hallelujah, You’re home.” —  Supermarket Flowers by E. S. in Framlingham, Suffolk 💜

Here are some ways to express your condolences following the loss of a mother:

  • Sharing my deepest sympathy for the loss of your mother. She was a remarkable woman, will be sorely missed and cherished forever. 
  • Your mother was an incredible inspiration to others. Everyone who knew her was influenced and inspired by her warmth, charm and kindness. Her positive outlook and impact on my life will never be forgotten. She will be forever missed. 
  • One thing I know for sure is how deeply your mother loved you. She lived everyday just to share stories about you and your family. She led a life only others can dream of. I am honored to have been her friend for all these years. My deepest condolences to you. 
  • Yours mother was truly one in a million. She was an amazing woman, incredible wife and loving mother. I'm so deeply sorry for your loss. 
  • What a beautiful mother and person _______ was. She lived a life of joy, passion and purpose. Your mother was loved by all who knew her and seemingly never met a stranger. I see her reflected in your life everyday. May you take this time to celebrate the incredible life she made. Our deepest sympathies to you and your family during this difficult time. 
  • I never met your mom, but I can tell how wonderful she must have been— simply by knowing you. We reflect the best parts of our parents, thanks to the loving way they raised us. I love you and am so thankful for our friendship. Take comfort in your memories as you grieve. We are here for you and know that your love never leaves, it merely grows in different ways. 
  • I’m so sorry for your loss. Keep strong and never forget how proud your mom is of you. She will be deeply missed.

Condolences for loss of a father

There are no words that can fully describe a father’s impact on their children. At times, fathers act as stoic heroes who seemingly exist to confidently guide and protect us. Other times fathers reveal a different and more vulnerable side— riddled with endless puns or “dad jokes,” a unique ability to patiently listen, or even that fond awkwardness of watching them try to express their feelings. Love from a father serves as a foundational anchor in our hearts and a structural pillar to our own sense of identity and personality. Understandably so, the grief following the death of a father can cause a flood of emotions and be incredibly difficult to process or articulate. And while the death of a father can feel unsurmountable, in time there’s few greater joys than the tug of warm heartstrings that a loving father’s memory can bring us as we honor their legacy by sharing that love with the world around us.

“Dad enjoyed fooling everyone into thinking he was this big, tough, intimidating guy, but to my sisters and I, he was hardly that. With us he shared the gentle side. He taught us how to live, love, laugh... even cry. Perhaps that special bond is the beautiful part— as if he’s still here, hiding quietly in our hearts. I love you dad, always." — D. W. in Chicago, IL 💜

Here are some ways to express your condolences following the loss of a father:

  • I know how close you and your dad were. I’m wishing you strength and love to get through this difficult time.
  • I will always remember your dad’s amazing spirit, sense of humor and laughter. He brought joy with him wherever he was. His loss is heartbreaking, and his spirit will never be replaced. He was one of a kind. My deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathy.
  • Your father was an exceptional man. He was generous, thoughtful and kind. I am terribly sad to hear of his passing, he certainly had much more living to do. We extend all our caring thoughts to you and your family. He will remain in our thoughts and prayers as his loving example will always be remembered. 
  • My deepest condolences to the family and friends of such a fine and decent man. His passing is a tragic loss for all.
  • What an incredible man I had the pleasure of knowing all these years. He had such a quick mind and always a funny joke. I will always have great memories of him. My sincere condolences to all the family.
  • We were saddened when we heard the news of your father’s passing. You are in our thoughts and prayers. May you find peace and comfort from all those that loved him well.

Condolences for loss of a sister

Losing any family member to death is heartbreaking, but the loss of a sister can feel particularly so. Siblings have a unique bond, and when one passes away, the other siblings can often feel as though a large part of their world has been shaken upside down. Regardless of how close the relationship was, a sister has always been there in one way or another… through memories, special events, get-togethers, and daily family conversations in general. The loss of a sister not only changes the rhythm of the way a sibling interacts with their family, but also disrupts the dynamic of how each family member engages as a whole. 

“My little sister meant the world to me. No matter what, she was always the one constant in my life. I love her more than words can describe. I will always love and miss you, sister.” — A. K. in Milwaukee, WI 💜

Here are some ways to express your condolences following the loss of a sister:

  • I cannot imagine a world without your sister. She was so vibrant and a true joy to know. She made everything better. I am going to miss her more than words can say. You have my deepest sympathy. 
  • I wish I had one more day to tell her what she meant to me. The world was a better place with her in it. May she rest in peace. I am so sorry for your loss. 
  • She may be gone but her life lives on through the memories we made together. She is my heart and soul. My condolences to you and your family
  • I will be forever grateful for the friendship I had with your sister. She taught me what the true meaning of unconditional love means and to stick up for what you believe in. I will carry her spirit with me forever. I am so sorry for your loss.
  • We are so deeply sorry to hear of your loss. We are heartbroken. She was a remarkable woman whose time was cut so short. Our sympathies go out to you and the family. 
  • Oh, what a life she lived. She lived it her way and was an inspiration to anyone she met. My heartfelt condolences. She was one of a kind and will be deeply missed. 

Condolences for loss of a brother

If siblings are special, brothers are extraordinary. Regardless of how similar in age, the loss of a brother generates a sense of beautiful sadness and achy yearn for familiarness. Losing a brother can often spur a search for meaning in one’s own actions or life. Sympathetic words are soothing as long as they feel authentic and show genuine compassion. If you’re close to the survivor or knew the brother who passed away, it’s appreciated to add a bit more context to the condolence message. 

“‘Losing my brother felt much like half of me just disappeared. Old memories run through my head and all I want is to be able to call and laugh as I relive those moments with him.”  — V. K. in Toronto, ON 💜

Here are some ways to express your condolences following the loss of a brother:

  • I’m so sorry for your loss and am here for you.
  • May the memories of your brother live on in your forevermore. Please accept my deepest condolences.
  • The world lost an incredible person. One that impacted everyone when he walked into a room. He will be greatly missed. May he rest in peace. 
  • Sending my love after the loss of your dear brother. I know how close you two were. He led a life that many can only imagine in their dreams. What an incredible man he was. Please pass my condolences to your entire family.
  • I have such fond memories of your brother. He was one of the nicest people I’ve ever known.
  • Your brother was a hero to us all. I am so sorry to hear of his passing. He certainly made the world a better place. He will be greatly missed and cherished forever. 
  • May his memories give you comfort and joy. He was respected and loved by everyone. Passing along our deepest sympathies. We will miss him dearly.

Condolences for loss of a child

Grieving the death of a child is frequently called the ultimate tragedy. Little can feel more devastating, as the relationship between parents and their children is among the most intense in life and it feels unnatural to outlive a child— regardless of their age. The search for meaning in a child’s death can be especially important to a parent.

“If something reminds you of my child, tell me. And when I relive their memories, relive them along with me. Speak their name, don’t let it shrink away. And if you never met them, don’t be afraid to ask. Talking about them brings me so much joy.” — P. S. in Denver, CO 💜

Here are some ways to express your condolences following the loss of a child:

  • There are no right things I could say at this time, just know that I am here for you. I love you and can’t begin to imagine what you are going through. My deepest condolences.
  • I am so terribly sorry for your loss.
  • I was truly blessed to have known your son. He can never be replaced and was such a special person. You have my deepest sympathies. 
  • I am at loss for words. I am so deeply sorry for your loss. Know that I am here for you always and forever. We will never forget your sweet daughter. Sending all our prayers and love to you and your family. 
  • My heart hurts for you dearly. Sharing our warmest condolences and biggest hugs. Godspeed to you and your family. 

Condolences for loss of a pet

Pets become our family and hold a special place in our hearts. And it’s easy to understand why— their unconditional love, endless companionship, unwavering loyalty and sense protection. Life quickly begins to revolve around them everyday. We know their every mood and expect them to be there for us always. Pets bring so much joy, love and support into a family, which is why the death of a pet can be devastating. If you have children, losing a pet may often be their first experience with loss and perhaps even a catalyst to explaining what happens after a loved one dies. If so, be sure to also address your own heartfelt condolences when sharing a sympathy message to the entire family, as children and adults alike form unbreakable bonds with pets and may take the loss particularly hard.

“I lost my very best buddy today. To say we are heartbroken and devastated would be an understatement. I truly got the best. You will be missed more than you could ever imagine. RIP Scout.” — J. R. in Dallas, TX 💜 

Here are some ways to express your condolences following the loss of a pet:

  • So sorry for your loss. It’s so hard. Prayers and positive vibes to you and your family.
  • I realize how hard this must be for you and your family. Wishing you the best through this difficult time.
  • Thinking of you all, so very sorry for your loss. He/She was very special and will surely be missed. 
  • I know your sweet pet was a member of your family, and it hurts so much to lose her/him. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.
  • Our pets are some of our very best friends. This just gets you right in the heart— always so painful. I am thinking of you as you grieve and remember [their pet’s name].
  • It is always in the little habits that you miss them the most. I pray that you always remember their little ways of saying, “I love you.” I am so sorry for your loss. 

Condolences for loss due to suicide

Losing a loved one to suicide can be overwhelmingly challenging. Quite often, those closest to the individual may experience a wide range of emotions and mixed feelings, including anger, confusion and deep sadness. It’s incredibly important to support these loved ones through such a difficult time and to be present-minded listeners with everything they might be processing. While it’s not uncommon for someone to express feelings of guilt after losing a loved one to suicide, it’s important to differentiate situational grief from an unhealthy or lingering level of responsibility. Suicidal behavior is complex, and there is no single cause. Suicide does not discriminate.

“There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t miss you, talk to you, and wish I could just sit and listen. I may never understand why, but I’ll always understand you.” — B. K. in Greeley, CO 💜

Here are some ways to express your condolences following loss due to suicide:

  • My heart hurts so deeply for you. I am so sorry for your loss and am here if you need or would like to talk.
  • I know how much you love [their loved one’s name]. This must be so hard.
  • I am so sorry for your loss. He/She will be deeply missed. I pray they found peace. 
  • I can’t imagine what you are going through. Sharing my deepest sympathies. May time heal all wounds. 
  • This was not because of something you did or didn’t do. (especially important with children)

If you or someone you know is in a crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Condolences for loss of an unborn child

Pregnancy loss is a collective term used to describe many different losses; miscarriages, generally meaning losses during the first or second trimester, and later pregnancy loss, often referred to as neonatal loss, including stillborn babies and babies who live for a short time after birth. 

Regardless of the stage, the experience of losing an unborn child during pregnancy is heart wrenching. The grief is intense and the experience can feel unfairly public as pregnancy is such an outwardly noticeable and celebrated event. The unexpected transition from a period of such elated excitement, hope & joy into harrowing feelings of raw sadness, heartache, shame or guilt often ushers in an unhealthy sense of helplessness or despair. 

“I feel a messy heartache of tears and shame. I have had three miscarriages and each has been tragic in their own way. I’m forever changed.” — E. L. in Miami, FL 💜 

Here are some things to say, and not to say, when expressing your condolences following the loss of an unborn child:

What to say: 

  • Wishing you strength for today, and hope for tomorrow.
  • Remember to be kind to yourself. Give yourself time to heal and grieve.
  • I love you and am so sorry for your loss. We are here with you.
  • Our entire family grieves with you.
  • “A life need not be long-lived for it to have been meaningful.” — Unknown

What not to say: 

  • Everything happens for a reason
  • It was for the best; something was wrong with the baby
  • You’re young, you can always have another baby
  • The baby is in a better place, or You now have an angel in heaven 
  • Be thankful for the kids you do have 
  • I don’t know how I would go on if that happened to me 
  • Time will heal and make it better

Timeless sympathy quotes

Saying goodbye to someone we love is heartbreaking and we therefore often feel at a loss for the right words. When you’re unsure of what to say after someone dies or of an appropriate condolence message to write in a sympathy card for a loved one, often a well-worn quote can help fill that difficult void. When in doubt, default to some of these classically timeless sympathy quotes to help express how you feel. 

  • “A great soul serves everyone all the time. A great soul never dies. It brings us together again and again.”
    — Maya Angelou
  • “It's hard to forget someone who gave you so much to remember.”
    — Sujish Kandampully
  • “Whoever you hold in the heart of you, is forever and always a part of you.”
    — Rossiter Raymond
  • “What is lovely never dies, but passes into another loveliness, star-dust or sea-foam, flower or winged air.”
    — Thomas Bailey Aldrich
  • “Like a bird singing in the rain, let grateful memories survive in a time of sorrow.”
    — Robert Louis Stevenson
  • “Death ends a life, not a relationship.”
    — Mitch Albom
  • “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched, but just felt in the heart.”
    — Helen Keller
  • “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”
    — Abraham Lincoln
  • “It's not length of life, but depth of life.”
    — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
    — Alfred Lord Tennyson
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