When someone you care about is going through the intense and painful emotions of losing a loved one, it can be difficult knowing the right words to say to them.
While there isn’t one perfect response, sharing your sympathy in a memorable way, like using a quote the bereaved can lean on during periods of grief, can have a lasting impact.
So whether you’re sending a card or preparing for a funeral service, here are 10 sympathy quotes you can use to comfort the ones you love.
1. “Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality.” —Emily Dickinson
This is a powerful message to send to someone who is grieving, reassuring him or her that the love they have for the deceased will last forever. Although their loved one is no longer physically present, their life and legacy continues to live on through surviving family members and friends.
2. “What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” —Helen Keller
Share this quote to reinforce to your grieving loved one that the person who has passed won’t be forgotten. Encourage the bereaved to find new ways to commemorate their loved one, reminding him or her of the positive impact they had on their life.
3. “After you have wept and grieved for your physical losses, cherish the functions and life you have left.” —Morrie Schwartz
This quote may bring comfort for someone going through an exceptionally hard time. Remind them that one of the best way to honor the deceased is to live life to the fullest. While it may be intimidating at first, trying new things can open their eyes to unexplored passions and possibilities, which can help ease the pain of grief.
4. “We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.”—Kenji Miyazawa, Positively Positive
Moving forward after a loss is not easy. But in time, it’s possible to let go of the past and to move toward the future. Use this quote as motivation for your friend or family member to carry on the wishes and dreams of the deceased in their honor.
5. “Say not in grief that they are gone, but give thanks that they were yours.”—Hebrew Proverb, Memorial Prayer Cards
Loss gives meaning to our existence because it reminds us how precious life is. Encourage someone who is grieving to have a thankful heart for having known the one they lost—even if they’ve passed too soon.
6. “Don’t be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.” —Richard Bach
This is a comforting quote for a friend or family member who finds comfort in the afterlife. It reassures them that this goodbye is temporary and someday they may see their loved one again. In the meantime, they’re looking down on them.
7. “Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer a great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” —Leo Tolstoy
Sharing this quote with someone you care about will allow them to realize the pain they are feeling is normal and it’s because of the deep love they shared with the one they lost.
8. “While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.” —Samuel Johnson
This quote will come in handy if you notice your grieving loved one trying to force the pain of a loss to disappear. These words will help to explain the importance of the entire grieving process.
9. “The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not get over the loss of a loved one; you’ll learn to live with it.” —Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
The pain of losing someone you have shared your entire life with may seem like it will never end. Use this quote to reassure them that although you won’t ever be able to completely get over the loss of a loved one, over time, you will adjust to a new “normal” and learn to live with that grief—and that’s okay.
10. “All you need is one safe anchor to keep you grounded when the rest of your life spins out of control.” —Katie Kacvinsky
This comforting quote will let the person you care about know that you are their anchor—you are going to be there for them to keep them grounded through their entire grief journey.
The Grieving Process Has No Set Timeline
If you or someone you know has recently lost a loved one, it’s important to remember there’s an entire network of resources available—both online and offline.
To help guide you through your grief journey, we encourage you to sign up for our weekly newsletter, A Journey Towards Healing. When you subscribe, you’ll receive weekly emails of encouragement across an entire year of your grief experience.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2019, and has been updated for comprehensiveness.