Expressing Condolences With Care

By: Batchelor Brothers 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

Black History Month: Six Fascinating Facts Everyone Should Know

Black History Month is an important annual celebration of achievements by African Americans. In the United States, Black History Month is observed in February to recognize the innumerable key cont...

During Cold and Flu Season, Follow These Smart Ways to Stay Healthy

When everyone around you is sick, staying healthy can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent...

Coffin or Casket? Six Considerations to Help you Choose the Right Memorial Product

The choice of a coffin or casket should not be taken lightly. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they have some notable differences. Caskets and coffins both serve as burial contain...

Hosting a Reception after the Funeral? Follow These Six Helpful Guidelines

Hosting a reception after the funeral of a loved one presents an opportunity to demonstrate your enduring affection. The funeral reception gives mourners the chance to support each other, share fo...

Six Proven Ways to Calm Anxiety and Ease Stress

As stress levels rise, so does the need for self-care. Having effective ways to calm anxiety becomes even more essential amid challenging times. We all feel anxious from time to time. That sense o...

Coins on a Headstone Hold Special Meaning. Here’s Why.

Have you ever seen coins on a headstone? Leaving signs of remembrance on graves is a long-held tradition. While flowers are the most common grave decoration, they aren’t the only way to pay tribut...

Four Things You Need to Know If You are a Pallbearer or Honorary Pallbearer

The role of pallbearer or honorary pallbearer is both an honor and a great responsibility. The duties primarily consist of helping to carry or accompany the casket throughout a traditional funeral...

Four Essential Things to Know When a Death Occurs Away from Home or Out of Town

When a death occurs away from home or out of town, knowing what to do can greatly ease the burden for you and your loved ones. Today, people spend significant time away from their homes for vacati...

Honoring Your Loved One: Seven Beautiful, Personalized Tributes Using Cremated Ashes

Cremated ashes take on a new meaning when they are utilized creatively to fashion enduring tributes to loved ones who have passed on. Cremation has become the most popular funeral choice for Ameri...

Military Funerals: Six Creative Ideas for Honoring Your Departed Service Member

Transforming ordinary military funerals into highly personalized, meaningful occasions can be deeply healing. When an active-duty service member or veteran passes away, a meaningful final salute i...