Sometimes people can be quick to say things to try and comfort someone who is dying without first understanding what type of response would be of value to them. It can also seem impossible to know what to say or do for their family member who is simultaneously grieving this journey and the imminent loss of someone they love.


It is a healthy part of life to contemplate death and your own mortality. Death is an experience that we will all eventually share – let that guide you in what you say and how you respond.

You don’t have to know first-hand another person’s pain to empathize and offer support.

Never be too quick to try and fix it with words Think Before You Speak

When you’re in that part of grief, answering questions, even simple ones, is hard. What can you do instead?

– Offer a hug – Say I love you – Engage without asking a question that requires a response – Be willing to listen when they talk

“If there’s anything I can do….”

We often hear people say, “If there’s anything I can do, let me know…”. When the BEST thing to do is to know in your heart that there IS something you can do, so just do it without them having to ask.

Just as a parent will adjust their parenting tactics and techniques for each of their children, every person experiencing death or the dying process needs something different. Work to understand them as a person before determining what you’d like to say. Ask yourself the following:

– Do they enjoy humor and lightheartedness? – Are they in physical pain? – Are they scared, or are they hopeful? – Are they intellectual and appreciate philosophical engagement? – Do they have a spiritual foundation and cherish scripture?

Humor Response

If you know a person well enough to realize that they have approached life with humor and lightheartedness, that will give you a bit of insight into the type of response that would be good and supportive for them.

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