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

Understanding the Positives and Pitfalls of Grief Support Groups

They say “time heals all wounds”.  Yet, when you’re mourning the death of a spouse, child, or anyone dear to you, there are no benchmarks that can guarantee when you will feel better. Even a...

Honoring Your Loved One: Ten Creative Ways to Use Cremated Remains

Cremation has become the most popular funeral choice for Americans. It currently accounts for more than half of all end-of-life dispositions in the U.S., and that number is expected to grow to near...

Brittney Greene Interviewed by WMAR2NEWS Regarding COVID-19

                    RANDALLSTOWN, Md — Families, already grieving the loss of a loved one, are finding that their funerals have to be l...

Vaughn Greene Funeral Services is Prepared to Safely Care for Our Families During the COVID-19 Health Emergency

While our nation continues to develop its response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Vaughn Greene Funeral Services remains committed to providing the highest quality of care to families in thei...

Do You Know the Protocol for Funeral Processions?

Funeral processions can be confusing. Whether you’re participating in the procession or you encounter one, it’s often difficult to know the right thing to do. Should you stop for red lights? Are yo...

How to Choose the Right Cremation Urn

When it comes to cremation urns, there’s no shortage of choices. There are literally thousands of styles and options available, and you may wonder where to begin when deciding on an urn for your lo...

How to Help a Loved One with Hearing Loss

If you suspect an older loved one might be hearing impaired, it’s likely not just your imagination.  According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Hearing Disorders, 25%...

Five Reasons Why Cremation is Surging in Popularity

People are choosing cremation services over burial in astonishing numbers.  In 2016, the U.S. cremation rate surpassed 50 percent for the first time, according t...

Is it Time for Your Mom or Dad to Hang Up the Car Keys?

It may seem like only yesterday that your folks began entrusting you with their car keys. Yet, you may now be in the position to determine whether they are fit to drive. This role re...

Coping with the Fog of Grief

You forgot to pay your water bill, lost your car keys (again!), and now the toast is burnt. When mourning the loss of a loved one, your mind may wander or shut down in ways that...