What To Say When Someone Dies of Cancer

two figures holding each other in black and white
via Unsplash

It's not easy but there are some right and wrong things to say when someone dies of cancer.

What to Say When Someone Dies of Cancer

Woof. Here we are. Death sucks, it is not easy. It takes a toll on almost everyone. I don't know if it ever gets easier, or if you can ever be truly prepared for it but it is inevitable. Cancer really sucks. Watching a loved one battle cancer in a hospital or at home is truly heartbreaking.

Consoling family members or friends who have lost someone to cancer can be... awkward. YES! I said it! Of course you're sad and feel for them but sometimes it's awkward to open up. I've heard of people laughing uncontrollably at funerals because it's how they cope with death. And that's just it. We all cope with death differently, we all grieve differently. So, if you're at a loss for words, here's what to say when someone dies of cancer.

Kind Things To Say When Someone Dies of Cancer

  • You are in my thoughts and prayers

  • I will bring you dinner this week

  • I'm so sorry for your loss

  • I am here for you, morning, noon, and night, if you need anything

  • I am here to help

  • I want you to know how much I care

  • I know there is nothing I can do to change what happened but I wanted to offer my condolences

  • My favorite memory of him/her was _____.

  • You do not have to go through this alone

  • I just heard about, _______ and I wanted to say how sorry I am.

  • I want to be here for you, hugs and all

  • I'd love to help you with dinner or errands

  • I am here to listen to you whenever you need it, here's my number

What NOT To Say When Someone Dies of Cancer

  • At least it wasn't a surprise

  • You just have to be strong

  • We all deal with death differently

  • He/she is an angel now

  • There is a reason for everything

  • Shit happens

  • At least you had the opportunity to say goodbye

  • The same thing happened to my friend

  • You have to move on

  • You need to stop crying

  • He/she passed in the best possible way

How Cancer Affects Us

Our Quiz Editor, Andrea Ciriaco shared a story about someone in her life, who died of cancer. The support from her mother gave her the strength to keep going.

"My mom was an only child and all of my cousins on her side of the family are related to me by marriage. When I was in middle school, my cousin, Sue, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 50. Sue and her husband, Paul, were the heart and soul of our family and basically held us all together.

From summers at their lake house to traditional Thanksgivings at their home, they were the core of my childhood. Sue was essentially a second grandma to me and took me out on my first boat ride and taught me how to bait a fishing hook. She was one of the most optimistic, warm hearted human beings I have ever known even when battling cancer. I have never seen a more vibrant, upbeat person who had just undergone chemotherapy.

She was able to go into remission but unfortunately, the cancer returned a year later and she passed away shortly after.

Sue was going to teach me to water ski but we never had the chance to go to the lake house again. I went to summer camp that year in Virginia and they had water skiing as an activity that we could do so I, of course, signed up. My first attempt was a complete failure and I was a little scared to go back out so I decided to quit.

It kept bothering me for the next few days because I wanted to do it for Sue. That moment I thought to myself that if she could go through chemo without ever breaking a smile then I could water ski after falling over and over again. I still remember talking to my mom on the phone telling her that I was too scared to try again. She told me that if Sue was there she would say to me "you don't mean it!" which is something she always said. I knew my mom was right. On the last day of camp, I told my counselor that I wanted to try again so she took me out to the lake.

I don't know how but as soon as that boat took off, I found myself standing up and skiing through that water. I believe that Sue gave me her courage and determination that day and I have held on to every bit of it ever since."

Cancer Sucks But You Don't Have To

Cancer sucks and death is awkward, we've covered that in the intro of this article. But you know what, you don't have to suck when comforting family or friends. We've all experienced death in some way, shape, or form. Do you remember how you felt? What annoyed you? What didn't work. Well, well, try to put yourself in someone else's shoes. Thanks to Instagram and other social media outlets, we might've lost some compassion. Everyone is so interested and mixed up in their own lives, we might not send a text asking how our friend is feeling, we might not call a sister and see how she's coping with a life change, we might not visit a coworker in the hospital. And we certainly might forget to check in on a friend who has lost someone to cancer.

Be kind, be sympathetic, be real.