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

Seven Proven Secrets to Staying Healthy When You’re Surrounded by Illness

When everyone around you is under the weather, staying healthy requires some extra effort. Upper respiratory infections like colds and flu are more common in the winter months when we’re all stayi...

Coffin or Casket: How to Determine Which One is Right for You

Funeral planning involves many details, and one of the most important is the choice of a coffin or casket. Although most people think these burial containers are the same, they actually have a num...

The Reception after the Funeral: Five Helpful Tips for a Memorable Event

If you are hosting a reception after the funeral of a loved one, consider ways to make it extraordinary and deeply personal. Families often host a reception or repast after the final farewell for ...

Seven Proven Tips for Calming Stress and Easing Anxiety

From minor trials to major crises, stress is a part of life. Finding effective ways to calm anxiety can transform your mood and your health. You can't always control your circumstances but you can...

New Year, New Purpose: 3 Tips To Consider For Your Mental Health Inventory

It’s 2023, and many of us are hopeful about the new year and all it has to bring.  COVID-19 has changed many of our lives, and we have begun to realize the importance of living in the moment...

Coins on a Headstone: Five Little-Known Facts About Grave Decorations

Have you ever seen letters, photos, or coins on a headstone? These traditional mementos represent a way to honor the departed. Honoring those who have passed on has always been an important aspect...

Have You Been Asked to be Pallbearer or Honorary Pallbearer? Four Important Things to Know

Consider it a tremendous honor if you have been asked to serve as a pallbearer or honorary pallbearer at a funeral. Being a pallbearer or honorary pallbearer means you will play an integral part i...

In Remembrance Of Our Loved Ones This Holiday Season

During the holidays, those grieving sometimes feel like they are in a time machine, feeling their emotions of loss as deeply as when it occurred.  Grief affects everyone differently, but one ...

When a Death Occurs Away from Home or Out of Town, Take These Four Steps

Losing a loved one is difficult, no matter the time or place. When a death occurs away from home or out of town, do you know the steps to take? In today’s mobile society, end-of-life emergencies a...

VGFS is Proud to Partner with 53 Families Foundation This Thanksgiving

Vaughn Greene Funeral Services is proud to support this year's 53 Families Foundation Thanksgiving Dinner on November 22 at 4pm, held at the Baltimore Convention Center. For ten consecutive...