Coping with the loss of a father can be tough. As a friend, we should comfort our loved ones in the most empathetic way possible. In other words, we need to know what to say to someone whose father died and be there for them throughout the ordeal. A few well-placed words are a healthy way to help them heal.
Dealing with death can be overwhelming whether you’re grieving or trying to help someone else deal with their loss. It can’t be easy to lose someone you cared deeply for, especially if that someone was your parent who raised you into the person you are today. In a sense, we all know what it’s like to lose a father. However, choosing what to say to someone whose father died is far from easy.
In this article, we will focus on what you can either say or do to help someone cope with the loss of their father. And while there isn’t any single, unifying way to handle loss, some methods are still better than others. As such, we will also cover what not to say or do during this difficult time.
Body Language of Comfort
For the time being, we won’t focus on what to say to someone whose father died. Instead, we ought to go over the body language of someone who’s providing comfort. More specifically, these are the things you ought to do when someone you know loses their father.
A Gentle Approach
If the person who lost their father is your close friend or cousin, then soft hugs and embraces are perfectly fine. They need to know that someone is there for them, and in such difficult moments, physical touch can be powerful. Gentle, slow backrubs with one hand will also work. On the other hand, if they initiate physical contact (for example, they lean against you to cry or simply ask for an embrace), accept it and stay involved until they choose to move away from their own volition.
It’s incredibly hard to talk to someone who’s just lost a parent and everyone knows that. However, it’s important to maintain eye contact with them, even if they’re crying or not always looking directly at you. Eye contact signifies that you’re paying attention to them, that their loss is important to you and that you’re being honest with wanting the best for them.
Sharing a Tear
Some people cope better when others openly share their pain. By shedding a tear yourself, you can show them just how much you feel their pain and how you’re willing to be there for them. It’s a visceral, honest response that reinforces your empathy.
What To Say To Someone Whose Father Died. Body Language You Ought to Avoid
We advise paying close attention to this part because unlike choosing the right words, acting the right way during someone’s grieving process is harder than it sounds.
First off, there’s the approach. Most articles on this topic out there will tell you not to give the grieving party a fist bump or a pat on the back. There is some logic to that since these gestures are not appropriate for funerals or wakes.
However, we’d advise that you keep everything you do within context. Some people actually cope better when you show them a friendly, chummy gesture like a fist bump. However, you have to be really careful when you do it and whom you direct it to.
Next, there’s eye contact. As stated earlier, it’s important that the person grieving for their father knows you’re there for them. If you avoid directly looking into their eyes, or even if you look away in discomfort, they’ll feel embarrassed and alone which will amplify their grief.
With that in mind, we should also stress that you shouldn’t pull away from an embrace if they initiate it. Even if you don’t mean it, you’re showing discomfort at their grief and that doesn’t help them cope.
Finally, crying alongside them can be powerful, as we stated earlier, but some people simply don’t cry when they’ve lost their father. If your grieving friend or loved one is like that, it might be better if you didn’t bawl your heart out, as it might make them feel uncomfortable.
Knowing Exactly What to Say to Someone Whose Father Died
I’m Sorry for Your Loss
When visiting a grieving friend, co-worker, or family member, people often struggle with what they should say first. If you’re one of the people who can’t decide on what to say to someone whose father died, always go with empathy. Letting someone know you feel sorry for their loss is just about the most empathetic thing you can tell them when you first see them at a wake or a funeral. It’s concise, to the point, and most importantly it doesn’t come off as forced or insincere.
You Are in My Thoughts
Grievers need someone they can rely on long-term. Obviously, you can’t show them how reliable you can be later while you’re comforting them at the given moment, but you can still let them know that by saying “you are in my thoughts”. It might sound simple, but this statement is strong and laden with meaning. If a grieving party knows that you’re thinking of them, they will consider you a reliable friend. That thought alone can be comforting.
Talking About Their Father
Sometimes, choosing what to say to someone whose father died comes down to short, meaningful phrases. However, your grieving loved one might need someone to talk to at length. When that happens, you can try and reminisce about their father.
Try to remember all the times that he had helped you or had shown some of his virtues. Don’t sound too enthused, but try not to talk about him in overly depressing tones. Simply focus on the good things he did in life and the way he made people around him feel.
One other way to help a griever cope is to ignite a specific memory that their father shared with you two. Not only will this allow them to relax a little, but it will also reinforce the idea that you’re there for them, that their pain is a shared one.
This Must Be Hard For You
Saying “this must be hard for you” to someone who lost their father is not the best “opener”. But it’s still a tasteful statement to make during a wake or a funeral. First off, it acknowledges the pain that they must feel after losing a loved one. But more importantly, it lets them know that you’re open to sharing some of their emotional hardship, or that you’re willing to listen to them and empathize.
Offering to Help Out
Once you’ve decided on what to say to someone whose father died, it’s time to take the next step. The only thing better than telling someone you’re there for them is to actually show it in practice. In other words, offer to help them out in any tangible way during their difficult period and commit to doing so.
For example, you can offer to help them with the funeral arrangements. No funeral is fun, but more importantly, they are expensive and quite demanding to arrange. Remember that your loved one is grieving while trying to arrange a funeral, and they’ll need every pair of hands they can get.
One more thing you can do for a griever is to help them run errands. While they gather their thoughts at home and slowly heal, you can help them with paying bills, doing the shopping, cleaning their home, etc. You don’t have to go all-out, especially if they ask you not to, but a little help is always appreciated.
Sometimes, the answer to the what to say to someone whose father died question is to simply say nothing at all. There are people out there who cope with being left alone. That might sound strange or even painful to you, as their friend, but if that’s what it takes to heal, you need to give them some space. Once they’re ready, they’ll come to you on their own and when they do, you can try your best to comfort them.
A Special Poem
A nice touch would be to recite or pen them a special poem. If you would like to use a touching and unique for this circumstance then Just Click Here to see my collection of over 250 poems which are all available for only $16.00
What To Say To Someone Whose Father Died. What Should I Avoid?
People don’t always know what to say to someone whose father died. More often than not, they will tell the griever something that seems comforting but ends up making the situation even more painful. We should emphasize that none of these statements have bad intentions behind them. However, it’s still a good idea to avoid using them as defaults.
Yes, there are people out there who try to find the silver lining in someone’s death, including the grievers themselves. However, that’s not what the majority of us do. In fact, most people will need some time to just “be negative”. They need to expel all the pent-up emotions and just feel sad about their dad passing away.
Therefore, don’t try to put a positive spin on someone’s passing. Statements like “at least he lived a long life” or “hey, he didn’t die in pain” or even “his legacy will live on” are perfectly valid, but they are best left for later when the griever has more or less recuperated from the loss.
Comparing Them to You
It sounds empathetic to compare your friend’s loss with one of your own, and in some cases, it can work very well. However, don’t do this early on, as it will shift the focus from them to you. They might listen to you and acknowledge what you have to say, but at the end of the day, you ended up talking about yourself and not their own predicament. The best thing to do is to let your grieving friend be the focus.
How Are You?
Unfortunately, “how are you?” is a frequent question at funerals, with some variations being “how are you holding up?” and “you doing okay?”. When somebody has just lost their father, you already know how they feel. So, asking this question is redundant and a bit counterproductive. However, it’s a perfectly valid thing to ask someone after a month or so has passed since the funeral.
Religious or Philosophical Views on Death
If you’re not sure what to say to someone whose father died, you can at least follow a few simple principles:
- Be direct and to the point
- Keep it on a level they can understand
- Make it loss-specific, not general and abstract
Some people try to cite the Bible or Quran verses while others talk about the philosophy of death itself. However, not everyone shares your religious views. Also, philosophizing on a difficult topic like death can be too complicated, especially during such a rough period. Once again, those methods are probably best left for later.