A tried-and-true example of what to say to someone whose mother died includes, “I am sorry for your loss, she will be missed.” But there are also other, more personal ways of expressing condolences and delivering a heartfelt message.
As difficult as it is navigating through the grieving process, expressing condolences is even more challenging. Even though we have the best intentions, we might say something wrong and upset the person grieving even more than they already are. So to avoid getting into any unfortunate situations here’s exactly what to say to someone whose mother died.
Understanding the Grieving Process
Before we can learn what to say to someone whose mother died, we first have to get familiar with the entire grieving process.
For starters, there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. Some people might cry, others will laugh, and some won’t even show their emotions. However, expressing all of these feelings is just part of it all. So even with the best intentions, we should never tell anyone how to mourn.
What’s more, while a person is grieving, they might behave out of character, cry, or lash out. It’s up to us at that moment to reassure them that we understand and accept them as they are. But we should never take it to the heart or judge them as that won’t help the situation.
Lastly, I often hear people saying that the grieving process lasts around 18 to 24 months. However, in my experience, that’s not always true. Each situation and person is unique, and we shouldn’t hurry anyone along during this difficult time.
Knowing What to Say to Someone Whose Mother Died
First, we have to acknowledge the situation without beating around the bush. So, for example, we could say, “I heard that your mother passed away, I am so sorry for your loss.”
Also, we need to show this person that we are willing to listen to their stories whenever they want to. By simply asking, “Do you want to talk about what happened?” we express care.
Other excellent examples of what to say to someone whose mother died include:
- I wish I knew the right words to make the pain go away. But just know that I am here for you.
- I will keep you and your mother in my thoughts and prayers.
- She was an incredible woman that has touched so many lives.
- I am always a phone call/text away.
- I love both you and your mother dearly; we will truly miss her.
If We Are Asked to Speak at the Funeral Service
Speaking at the funeral service is a challenge in itself, and it’s entirely different from expressing condolences.
We’re expected to deliver a heartfelt speech<span style=”font-weight: 400;”> about the deceased and talk about who they were and what they meant to us. Also, most eulogies include a message of hope at the end to try and comfort those in mourning.
However, writing a touching yet inspiring eulogy is much trickier than it sounds. So for those who are feeling unsure about writing a speech, I always recommend adding a poem. With it, we can convey our feelings while paying respects to a beloved mother.
My favorite poems for this somber occasion include “She Walks in Beauty” by George Gordon and “Wonderful Mother” by Patrick O’Reilly. But since each person is unique, I recommend browsing through the different poems available on my website. There are countless different options that can fit almost any situation.
Writing a Card
If we’re having trouble expressing ourselves on the spot or don’t know what to say to someone whose mother died, we might be better off writing a letter or card. Also, sending a card is appropriate if we couldn’t attend the funeral or want to offer additional support after the service.
Now, in a card, it’s essential to keep the same sentiments as we would during a funeral. So it’s always best to start with a simple, “I am deeply sorry for your loss; I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you.”
What’s more, it’s always an excellent idea to share an anecdote or joke about the person who’s passed. Most often, it will cheer up the ones who are grieving, even for just a moment.
Finally, we can end the card by letting them know they can rely on us for help or whatever favor they need. If we’re close to the person, we can offer to make a home-cooked meal, a ride to and from school/work, and more.
It’s best to be specific in these situations and avoid the generic, “Call me if you need something.” Even though we’re trying to show support, our words could have the opposite effect. In fact, they might put the bereaved under even more stress.
What Not to Say to Someone Whose Mother Died
For the person who has lost their mother, emotions are undoubtedly running high, and there are some things we’re better off not saying. I know that when I lost my mother, the question, “How are you feeling?” used to infuriate me.
Even though I knew that the people asking only had the best intentions, I always felt like they were just waiting for a generic response. Also, I felt like there’s no one way to answer that question as a million different emotions were running through my head at the same time.
Some other common phrases and bad examples of what to say to someone whose mother died include:
- She is in a better place.
- Everything happens for a reason.
- Things will get better./ You will get through this.
- Stop crying; she would hate to see you like this.
- It’s alright. It was her time to go; she lived a long life.
- At least it’s over now; you can finally move on with your life.
With that said, if the bereaved say any of these sentiments, we can and should agree with them. However, it’s a bad idea to bring them up ourselves, as it might make the bereaved even more upset.
How to Talk to Someone Whose Mother Died
When we’re speaking with someone who is going through such a traumatic experience, we should let them know that their feelings are valid. If they want to cry or scream, telling them that they can express themselves when they’re with us will give them some comfort.
Also, it’s best not to give any unsolicited advice or opinions about their mother’s life, death, funeral, or whatever. We shouldn’t offer any simplistic solutions or try to minimize their grief, even if they hadn’t spoken to their mother in years, for example.
But most importantly, we have to allow the person to express themselves in a safe environment. Maybe the person who lost their parent needs to talk about everything that happened so that they can try and process the situation. If they want to speak about their mother’s life or about their feelings or just crack jokes, we need to be ready to listen.
Following Up After the Funeral
Once the funeral service is over, and we’re done with the formalities, that’s when the real work begins. The best way to show someone how much we care is to follow up on them a few days, weeks, or months later.
When my mother died, I found that some days were just more difficult to get through than others. For example, even though I had been fine the few days leading up to it, her birthday was an incredibly challenging time. Fortunately, I surrounded myself with people who were incredibly supportive and helped me out.
What I’ve learned from that experience is that we can’t judge someone just on outward appearances. Even though they might appear calm on the outside, they might be suffering. So we should never assume how someone’s doing before checking in on them.
Offering Support to someone whose mother died
In addition to the sentiments we’ve already talked about, we can offer practical help. For example, we can offer to do their grocery shopping or run some errands on their behalf. Also, we can offer to look after their kids or pets or do their housework.
If the person grieving wants to seek grief counseling, we can suggest taking them to meetings and attending together. Another option is to take them to lunch or go on a walk together. All of these little things will let the bereaved know that there’s someone there for them and that they are loved.
How to Comfort a Grieving Child
Most children are, one way or another, familiar with death, even though they can’t fully understand it. But experiencing grief firsthand is a surreal and confusing experience for a child. So while we can’t take the pain away from a child who lost its mother, we can make it feel safe and loved.
Also, by allowing the child to express its feelings in a supportive environment, we’re helping it develop good coping skills. These will help the kid later on in life, and it will be better equipped to deal with any hardship.
But it’s important to remember that, just like adults, all kids grieve differently. With that said, it’s normal for them to go through countless different emotions in a single day. So while it might look strange to us that a child is crying one minute and playing the next, it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
Now, there is no right answer to the question of what to say to someone whose mother died style=”font-weight: 400;”>. But there are some sentiments that can make the grieving process a bit more tolerable. Most importantly, during this difficult time, we have to remember that it’s up to us to show love and support to the mourners without upsetting them.