No Apology Needed

Feb 6th, 2015 | Episode 4

Alternatives to “I’m sorry for your loss.”

This episode delves into that moment when you find out about a death. Most of us don’t know what to say or do, so we go turn to what we’ve heard others say in a similar situation, “I’m sorry for your loss.” While there’s nothing wrong with those words, especially when said with authenticity and full presence, it’s helpful to know how that phrase affects those who are grieving and what you can say instead. Whether it’s getting a phone call with the news, writing out a sympathy card, or learning about a loss during a casual conversation, everyone encounters the dilemma of what to say and how to communicate we care.


  • “I was so sad when I heard the news about your mom’s death.”

  • With children and teens, they appreciate an honest: “That totally sucks.”

  • If you do go with “I’m sorry” expanding it to “I’m so sorry you have to go through this,” or “I’m so sorry this is happening.” can break up the monotony of “I’m sorry for your loss.”

If you’re talking with someone, try reflecting back what they’ve said, allowing them to say more:

  • “Your dad just died last night.”

  • “Today’s the anniversary of your sister’s death.”

When writing a sympathy card or email:

  • Consider sharing a specific memory of the person who died: “I remember so clearly your mom’s smile, it made me feel so welcome.”

  • “There are no good words, just want you to know you are on my mind and in my heart.” can acknowledge that words don’t always measure up in times of grief.
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