Whether you are planning to attend funeral services for a loved one, friend or acquaintance or you want to send your condolences from afar, knowing what to say to someone who has lost a special person can be difficult. You want to provide comfort and show your respect, but you do not want to make the recipients feel more sorrowful than they already do. Following some valuable guidelines can help you write a heartfelt note of sympathy that the loved ones of the dearly departed will cherish.
If the recipient is not a close friend or relative, clarify who you are and how you knew the deceased. In their grief, the person's loved ones may not be able to put your face to your name. A simple statement, such as "I worked with Tom at the hardware store" or "Susan took care of my daughter as a child" can refresh their memories.
Share Something Personal
You may worry that talking about a loved one who recently passed will cause pain to family members, but sharing a funny, warm or otherwise meaningful anecdote or sentiment can actually bring them comfort. A sincere reference to something you appreciated about the departed, such as, "Diane's belly laugh could put a smile on the sourest face" or "Alan's chocolate chip cookies were matchless" are sure to be welcomed.
Impart a Thoughtful Sentiment
Close with a brief but considerate message letting the recipients know that you are sorry for their loss. A statement such as, "You are in my thoughts and prayers," "Sending my heartfelt condolences" or simply, "I am truly sorry for your loss" express your feelings.
Even though you may mean well, statements such as, "I know how you feel," "You will get through this" and "It was her time to go" may seem callous and uncaring. Remember that the recipients of your sympathy note are likely still raw from their recent loss and may be especially sensitive to well-intentioned statements such as these.
Simple Is Fine
Don't avoid sending a note or card because you feel as though you are not eloquent enough. A brief message with a genuine sentiment can be just what the departed person's family needs to get through another day of grief. Try to send a note soon after learning of their loss, but even if some time has passed, it is never too late to share your condolences and remember someone special.
When my mom passed away, my dad and I were charged with the task of planning a funeral that everyone would love. Unfortunately, this would prove to be a difficult task, since many of my mom's relatives didn't speak English. We mulled over what to do, and we decided to meet with the funeral director for a few tips. He told us a few ideas for how to make the experience easy for everyone to understand, and we implemented his suggestions. It was incredible how much easier it made things on the day of the funeral. Read here for more funeral arrangement tips so that you aren't left stressing about more than you need to.