Expressing Condolences With Care

By: Vaughn Greene Funeral Services
Monday, October 17, 2016

The news that a friend, colleague or acquaintance has passed away is difficult in many ways.

At the same time you're facing your own sadness, you may be at a loss about what to do or say to the bereaved. You want to help, but aren’t surehow.

The most important thing to do is to express your condolences. In doing so you are letting the bereaved know that you cared about their loved one and that they are not alone in their grief.

When you see the bereaved, a hug, holding hands or asimple handshake helps connect them to the living world. Simple phrases such as "I’m sorry"; "He was a good friend";

"I was blessed to know her"; or "My sympathies to your family" are appropriate. You do not have to say a lot. In fact,  it is often better to let the bereaved lead the conversation. If they're uncomfortable speaking, then a concluding phrase such as "Please let me know if I can help you in any way" or " My prayers are with you" affirms that you care for them and establishes a connection for the future.

If you can't see the bereaved in person, a telephone call is appropriate. Ask how the family is doing and be a good listener. It is important for people to feel they can talk to someone about their experience and emotions. Don’t hesitate to talk about the deceased since it often rekindles fond memories, enabling the bereaved to remember life’s blessings despite their loss. The same phrases mentioned above may be used to start and conclude the call.

Written condolences are also appreciated, whether you know the deceased’s family well or not. Receiving a personal note on stationery or a purchased sympathy card helps bereaved families realize that others share their loss. Whether you use a personal note or card, a brief explanation of your relationship to the deceased will help the family put you in context. In addition to the thoughts mentioned above, it's always good to express what the deceased meant to you and to reinforce that he or she will be missed but fondly remembered.

If possible, going to the funeral home for a funeral service or viewing is appropriate, even if you do not know the family well. At the funeral home you will find a register book where you should write your full name, nickname if applicable and your relationship to the deceased if it is not obvious to the family.

Many people send flowers as an expression of sympathy. If you choose to send flowers, be sure to attach a short note such as "With deepest sympathies" or "My heartfelt condolences," sign your full name and how you know the deceased, whether it is from work, the gym, a club, church, etc.

Some families specify a particular charity or organization where contributions can be made in lieu of flowers. If you choose to make a contribution, ask the funeral director what organization has been specified and how to contact that organization. Traditionally, the organization will send the family a notice of your contribution.

Keep in mind...

  • The expression of condolences is important; it's the first step in accepting the loss and beginning the healing process for you and the deceased’s family.
  • However you choose to express your condolences, it is essential to clearly identify yourself. This is a confusing and emotional time for the family. You can help by establishing the connections for them.
  • No matter which form you choose to express your sympathies, do it as soon as possible; rather than having to share your feelings in an awkward social environment or the workplace at a later date.
Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

Extending Condolences: Eight Tips for Sharing Your Heartfelt Sympathies

Most people find it hard to put their deepest sympathies into words. Whether you are posting to a funeral home’s online sympathy board or sending condolences by mail, knowing what to say and how ...

The Protocol for Funeral Processions: Ten Important Things You Need to Know

Good funeral etiquette also involves following the protocols for the procession. Even if you’ve never participated in one, chances are you have seen a funeral procession and may have wondered abo...

Eight Important Considerations for Young Children at Funerals

Losing a loved one impacts everyone who cherished the departed. If you are planning a funeral or memorial service, you may need to decide whether or not young children should attend. Grieving fam...

Do You Know the Many Advantages of Pre-Paying a Funeral?

Making funeral arrangements is never an easy thing to do. When a loved one passes away without leaving behind any instructions, it can make planning their funeral even more challenging for surviv...

Developing Your Legacy: How Do You Want to be Remembered?

When we pass on, we are remembered by the imprint we have etched into the minds and hearts of others. Our legacies are made up of a combination of successes, failures, contributions, life lessons...

Is a Senior Living Community Right for You? Consider These Important Benefits

Are you considering downsizing for retirement? If you foresee your current home becoming a challenge to maintain or not meeting your needs as you age, you might consider making the move to a seni...

Upcoming Webinar: Supporting Civilians & Veterans with Trauma and PTSD

We hope you will join us May 19th at 4pm for this virtual event! We have invited Leslie Holley, MA, LCPC, NCC, and certified counselor with Healing Circle, to lead us in an online presentation. ...

Touching Ways to Honor Your Departed Veteran this Memorial Day

America’s military heroes make tremendous sacrifices for our country. They deserve our deepest gratitude and respect, even after they have passed on. As Memorial Day approaches, we are reminded ...

The Most Common Types of Funeral Services: Five Indispensable Guidelines You Need to Know

Whether you are pre-planning your own funeral or that of a loved one, there are many decisions to be made. You may never have given it much thought before, but funeral services come in a wide var...

Facing Mortality: Three Reasons Why Acceptance is the Best Option

Although loss and death affect everyone, it’s a topic we tend to avoid. It’s considered gloomy and even a bad omen by many. But in reality, there is a sense of freedom that comes with facing morta...