Grief - Ideas to Express Sympathy

Expressing sympathy to those who have lost a loved one can be difficult. We all want to say and do the right thing. It's isn't always easy, but there are some heartfelt and sincere ways for you to express your condolences:

  • Mail sympathy cards. Writing your sincere condolences is sometimes easier than speaking them because it allows you to choose your words carefully.
  • Send a gift. Having flowers delivered to the funeral home, sending a fruit basket to the home of loved ones, and donating to a charity are all common sympathy gifts.
  • Attend the wake, memorial service, and/or funeral. To show your support and express your condolences, say “I'm sorry for your loss,” give a comforting hug, and hold the person's hand.
  • Share happy memories. If you knew the deceased well, you can talk about their unique qualities or tell a memorable story.
  • Take action. Be proactive and help. Don't wait for the bereaved to ask. During the time when funeral arrangements are being made and also in the following weeks, you can mow the lawn, pick up some groceries, watch the kids, or make a dinner.
  • Keep in touch with loved ones. Simply being there for people during bereavement may be the most important and welcomed way of expressing sympathy. Offer a friendly ear and a shoulder to cry on. Check up on them as they get back to their normal routines.
  • Recognize birthdays and other special days. You can continue expressing sympathy long after the deceased has passed. Birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays are often the hardest times for loved ones.
  • Send a thinking of you card. In the weeks and months following the loss of a loved one, a person can become lonely and lost themselves. Remind them they are cared for and loved, and they continue to be with you in your thoughts.

These are some very simple steps, but they can make a world of difference to someone who is suffering. Though most people tend to stop expressing their condolences after sending a bereavement card or note and attending services there are indeed many ways to be a source of comfort for those we care about. Simply being there for someone in their time of need can make all the difference in the world.


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