What to Say to a Friend Who Lost Her Husband

Written by: Ankita Kathad – MA (Clinical Psychology)
Last updated date : March 13, 2023

Losing a loved one is terrible. When it is a partner who has gone forever, the pain can be unbearable. Watching a friend go through this kind of pain can make you feel helpless. Yo may wonder what words of sympathy you can offer to a friend who has lost her husband. In this article, we discuss pain of losing a loved one. It is important to choose your words wisely while speaking to someone who has lost a husband. Therefore, we try to get a better understanding of thoughts and emotions that follow the death of someone. This can help us in offering better comfort and words of sympathy for the loss of a husband to a friend.

If you have a friend who has lost her husband, most likely she is going through a whirlpool of emotions. Let’s learn about the stages of grief a person goes through after a loss. These stages were given by Psychologist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. While a person may go through all of them or some of them, these stages help us to understand the emotional journey of someone who has had a loss.


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Chapter 1:

Stages of Grief


Here, your friend might pretend that the loss has not happened. Moreover, they may try to act normal and behave as if the husband is still alive. This is a common defense mechanism that gives the person some time to absorb the harsh news. Your friend will use words like, “Oh the husband has just gone away for a trip and will be back really soon.”


This is the stage where your friend might lash out. The emotions they have been hiding will surface and there can be the rage. Anger is just a façade for other emotions such as sadness. Here your friend can get angry at you or other loved ones. The friend may not act rationally. A lot of blame games can happen here. For example, the friend can blame the husband for being careless. At this stage, it is really difficult to know what to say to your friend who has lost her husband. This is because, on one hand, you really want to help but your friend just keeps pushing you away or gets angry at you.


To gain control of the entire situation, your friend will try to bargain. For instance, bargaining from god to give just a little more time with the husband. They will make promises such as ‘promising to be a good partner.


This stage is where the denial no longer helps. Your friend may have grasped the severity of the situation and is sure that the husband is not coming back. There can be a need to isolate and withdraw from everyone. Your friend can feel stuck in this stage. Helplessness and hopelessness are common emotions that they may experience.


This is the stage when your friend has finally accepted that the husband is not coming back and how life will be without him.

Now that you know about the stages of grief, you can understand the emotions of your friend better. An understanding of these stages helps us be mindful of the words we use to console people. It helps us be aware of what to say to a friend who has lost her husband. For instance, we know that getting angry is a part of expressing grief. This helps us not get hurt if our friend is being angry at us after the loss of the husband.

Here are some tips on what you can say to a friend who has lost her husband.

Chapter 2:

What to Say to a Friend Who Has Lost Her Husband?

It is very difficult to find the right words of condolences to someone who has lost a loved one. Even if it is your best friend. There is no denying that one feels lost for words of sympathy when a friend loses their husband. Even though you want to help your friend, you are often confused about the choice of words. You don’t wish to cause additional pain. You don’t want to leave your friend when they throw rage. There is an urge to solve your friend’s problems but grief cannot be solved. Here is how you can help your friend with words of sympathy for the loss of the husband. You can make use of these tips to figure out what to say to a friend who has lost her husband.

Be Present

The very first step for consoling a friend who has lost her husband is by being there for them. A lot is going on within your friend. Moreover, there are a lot of things that need to be taken care of. You can provide a lot of help. For instance, helping to run the chores. You can use the following prompts in the initial days as words of sympathy for your friend’s loss of their husband.

“I cannot describe in words how I feel but I am here for you in this situation”.

“I am wishing strength for you and your family”.

“Tell me what is it that I can do for you right now?”

You will have to assess the situation and then use your words of comfort. If the friend is in denial, do not force her to accept the reality. Be patient.

Managing the Anger

When your friend displays anger, do not throw rage back at her. Let your friend process those feelings. At such a time you can help your friend process the emotions behind the anger.

You can use prompts such as,

“I do understand that the loss is overwhelming and causing a lot of pain. Your anger is justified but it may be hurting others”

“I am here to listen to you and I understand your emotions.”

Helping Your Friend to Accept the Loss

This is perhaps the stage where you can offer help to your friend who has lost her husband. At this stage, instead of just offering words of sympathy for the loss of the husband, provide actual help. This is the time when most of the consolation process is getting over. In this stage, the person can feel loneliest. Here you can offer support by providing ideas for moving on. You can help your friend by signing them up for a fun-filled activity. Here are some prompts you can use to say to a friend who has lost her husband and has started to move on.

“Will you be interested in doing a hobby class? Shall I sign you up?”

At this stage, do not be pushy. Even though you may feel that an activity is best for your friend, do not insist if your friend is not ready. You can offer support in other areas, such as being there for the friend during important dates such as during the wedding anniversary or valentines’ day.

Chapter 3:

Helping a Friend Who Has Lost Her Husband

Understandably, one can get very confused while offering words of sympathy to a friend who has lost their husband. Here are some tips you can use while offering your support.

  • Be specific in ways in which you can help. Instead of just saying, “I am there for you.” Be specific. Such as letting your friend know that you can take care of the administration work or look after the household chores.
  • Do not keep reminding of the husband’s death.
  • Do not make the death of the husband a topic that should never be discussed. However, be mindful of the words that you use.
  • Check-in on your friend. This helps to ensure that your friend is safe. This also helps the friend know that they are not alone.
  • Be an active listener when your friend tells you about the husband. This provides the friend some space to feel all the emotions related to lose.

Chapter 4:


Losing a husband can be traumatic. Unprocessed grief can turn into psychosomatic issues such as chronic pain or chronic fatigue. The sadness of the loss can lead to a loss of focus. This can in turn affect well-being as well as performance. This often happens when the person is stuck in the denial stage. Since they have not expressed their inner emotions, it manifests themselves in the form of mental health issues. If your friend has lost her husband and is experiencing chronic pain with no apparent explanation, it is time to get help. At Epsychonline, there are self-help courses such as courses for Chronic pain. These courses, along with several useful articles on grief can help a person healthily overcome their loss. These courses are curated by experts. Do check them out. 

"Learnt a lot from this course" Sally

51 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount