What to Say When You Can’t Attend a Funeral

If there’s an event one is never pleased when they miss, it’s a funeral. Mostly because it feels helpless to watch someone you care about mourning so painfully yet you are far away and there is nothing you can do about it.

The tragic thing about death is that you are never prepared enough. When it happens, it leaves an unfathomable emptiness that cannot be filled.

Not with words, food, getting high, hugs, holidays, and whatever else you may think of.

At such moments, your loyalty and friendship are tested so if you are not available, do you best to send a message.

When you can’t attend a funeral, write a short and affectionate message expressing your sympathy. Share your regrets for not managing to attend and explain why if possible. You may also remind the mourning person of a good memory of the deceased if possible and express what their loss means to you. Avoid joking about it as some mourners may not appreciate your jokes at that moment. You can also promise to pay a visit whenever possible or give support where required. However, do not make any of these promises if you cannot fulfill them. 

I know it’s never easy to write this type of message so we have compiled a few sample messages to help you console and express love and support to your grieving friend or family member. You can choose the most appropriate and edit it.

Sample messages to send when you can’t attend a funeral.

What to say to a close friend on the loss of a sibling

Dear (name), there is only one wish I have right now, to be there with you, to stand by you as you grieve (name) but we know that isn’t possible right now because of (reason). I pray for strength for you and your family and I am sending my heartfelt sympathy. As soon as I get better, I will make time to see you. Meanwhile, let me know if there is anything I can do to.

What to say to your parent on the loss of their sibling

Dear (Mom/dad), it breaks my heart to be unavailable for your (sister’s) funeral but you know I love you and I always will. Auntie (name) was always warm and loving, I will miss her laughter and stories and I know you will too. I’m so sorry (mom); I will come over as soon as I can. Please don’t hesitate to call me if you need anything. I love you.

What to say to your neighbor on the loss of a parent

Dear (name), I am so sorry for your loss. Although I will not manage to be there for your (dad’s) funeral, my prayers are with you during this difficult moment. I will always remember (him) as a (barbeque genius). He was such a great man for all the years I have known him. Please receive my sincere sympathies to you and your family.

What to say to an acquaintance

Hi, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss, it must be heart-wrenching for you and your family. I wish I could attend the funeral but (I have traveled). I know it’s hard but I will be praying for you.

What to say to some whose loved one was sick for a long time

It is never easy to let go even if we saw (the deceased) struggle for such a long time. I am so proud of you for being strong and standing by him/her through the long sickness. May God rest their soul in peace. Unfortunately, I will not manage to attend the burial. I send my condolences to all family members and friends.

What to say to your child on the loss of their friend

I regret being so far away at the time you need me most. How can I begin to tell you that I will not make it for the funeral? I am sad and broken for you and I wish I was there to console you and talk about (friend’s name) and the amazing friendship you had. I send you my love, my prayers, and my condolences. I love you.

What to say to a parent grieving their child

My heart aches for you at the loss of your precious child; it’s unimaginable that I won’t be there for (her) funeral. Please know I am here for you and my heart hurts for you. You gave (her) such a delightful life, filled with love and compassion. I know (she) cherished you. I wish you strength as you grieve this loss.

 What to say to a friend on the loss of a parent

Words can’t express how wrecked I feel at the thought of missing your (mom’s) funeral. She was just like a mom to me. My heart bleeds for you and your family. Please accept my apology, my condolences, and my love.

What to say to your friend at the loss of their granny

My thoughts are with you as you mourn your grandma. She was just the sweetest. She lived a long full and satisfying life. We will all miss (her) thoughtfulness. I will not make it to the funeral but I will come to be with you for a while as soon as I can. I am sending my prayers to you and your whole family.

What to say to your boss

I am so sorry for your loss [insert name]. I would have loved to be there personally but it’s not possible. I am sending you and your family my deepest sympathies.

What to say to your junior

Your colleagues and I mourn with you at the loss of your (brother). You are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. Although we can’t be there for the funeral, we send you our sincerest sympathies.

Final Note

We understand how agonizing it is not to be there for someone you care about. It may even seem better to remain quiet.

Besides, it is assumed that a grieving person is already preoccupied and won’t find the time to read the message.

Don’t be deceived; send that message and let them know you are thinking about them.

I can’t promise you that it will magically heal or ease the pain, but it will send a reminder that they are cared for through the good and the bad times.

Find out What to Say When Someone Dies Unexpectedly


Check out How to Comfort Someone For Their Loss


Am a graduate sociologist and a regular contributor to national publications such as the American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Journal of Applied Social Science and the Annual Review of Sociology.

Recent Posts