5 Thoughtful and Different Expressions of Condolences
It can be very difficult to know what to say to the bereaved when someone dies, but it’s really important to reach out to those facing the loss. Every griever and situation is unique, which is why we’ve compiled 5 thoughtful and different expressions of condolences.
Rather than offering your sympathy in predictable or impersonal way; and saying what’s expected, add a considered personal touch. These expressions do just that. Nobody likes to express condolences. It’s not just that this term implies that something bad has happened, but many fear saying the wrong thing and making the situation worse.
That said, we all know that most people will appreciate you expressing that you are sorry and showing your support. Condolences can help those in pain see that others support them and that they are not alone. However, this doesn’t make it easier to find the words.
Some can sound hollow after a loss, and others don’t seem enough. Here are five scripts you can use to express your condolences that will be taken better by the grieving person and that will help you show how you feel without additional worries. Let’s take a look…
Expression 1 | From One Form to Another
[Insert Name] touched the lives of everyone they met and they continue to live on through us. They live though our thoughts, memories and hearts and that is a beautiful thing. They may have transcended physicality, but they are still here with us now- even if we can’t see it through our physical senses.
Expression 2 | Let Them Know They Are Not Alone
During this difficult time, I wanted to let you know that I love you and that I want to support you. I feel so sad that this happened and I am here for you no matter what. Please feel free to reach out at any time. We are all here to share your pain.
A loss can make the person feel isolated and alone. They might feel that they have been left by the person that mattered, so it tends to be hard to remember that others still are there for them. The goal of this script is to remind them of this. You are offering your help and also giving them the opportunity to consider that there are others around who are willing to do the same. Your goal here is not to speak for others but to let the person who is grieving know that there are those who will help them. Sharing your love is always a good idea.
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Expression 3 | Offer Help
I am so sorry for your loss. If you need anything, I am here to help. Would it be useful for you if I helped you cook/clean/talk to the guests? Is there something else I can do? If you think of something later, let me know.
Grieving people are usually feeling lost and depressed. But they often have a lot of responsibilities to take care of, which can make the whole situation overwhelming. If you can volunteer to take some of these upon yourself, they will feel relieved. A good tip for this script is to say something that you can do and are willing to do, of course. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
It’s a good idea to phrase it like a question to avoid making the help burdensome. For example, many people won’t appreciate an offer to clean out the things of a deceased loved one, as that will be a personal task. Provide them the opportunity to say where they need and leave a door open for the future.
Expression 4 | Share a Fond Memory
I am so sorry for your loss. I cared for X very much. I remember this one time when I was in a bad place and they helped me. I don’t know what I would have done without them. X will be remembered fondly.
Sharing your fond memories of the deceased is a tradition in many cultures. People get together to speak of their loved ones during the funeral and afterward, which can be comforting. This script provides you an opportunity to do the same. It is a way of connecting with the grieving person and also can open the door for more sharing of pleasant experiences, which in turn might make the grieving a little easier.
While you can’t force someone to accept a passing, you might gently remind them of the good times and the impact the person left. A good idea for this script is to share your fondest memory and find one that may be comforting; one where you were helped or supported by their loved one.
Expression 5 | Provide a Shoulder to Cry On
I know that you are going through a lot right now. I am so sorry for your loss, I can’t imagine how you must be feeling. If you want to talk about it or just anything, really, I am here to listen.
Some people might feel guilty or angry after a loss and experience other complicated emotions. If you find that you are willing to listen, tell them so. This will give them the opportunity to express these feelings safely. At the very least, you are reminding them that there are others there to support them and that they don’t have to go through this alone.
Bonus Expression 6 | Remind Them That There is Hope
I love you. I am so sorry that you are going through this. I hope that with time, you will feel better but while you are feeling like this, I want you to know that you are not alone. We will get through this together.
For many people, it can be comforting to hear that their suffering is not eternal, even if it feels so bad at the moment. However, you should avoid saying things like “time heals all wounds.” A more subtle and gentle approach is to mention this as hope but not as a fact, which can feel unpleasant to the individual. It can feel like a devaluation of their pain. By phrasing it more gently, the idea might be more acceptable and comforting.
It’s never easy to speak to someone who is grieving, especially when you are grieving yourself. These scripts can provide you with the words you can use, putting in your own emotion to connect with the person you want to comfort. Expressing your love, respect, and appreciation is always a good way of showing others your support.
Hamilton, I. (2016). Understanding grief and bereavement. British Journal Of General Practice, 66(651), 523-523. doi: 10.3399/bjgp16x687325
Parkes C. M. (1998). Bereavement in adult life. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 316(7134), 856–859. doi:10.1136/bmj.316.7134.856
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Never the Right Word
Hi there! I’m Amy, and I’m the person behind Never the Right Word. I’m a designer-by-day who’s fascinated by human psychology; you’ll find me learning about what makes others tick through all types of media and good old-fashioned conversation. Learn more about me here.
In 2019 Never the Right Word was born to fill the gap of ‘how-to’ websites with copy and paste examples showing you EXACTLY what you need to say to steer difficult conversations into positive outcomes.
Relevant Books We Recommend...
In It’s OK That You’re Not OK, author Megan Devine offers a profound new approach to both the experience of grief and the way we try to help others who have endured tragedy. In this compelling book, you’ll learn why well-meaning advice, therapy, and spiritual wisdom so often end up making it harder for people in grief. You'll learn how challenging the myths of grief—doing away with stages, timetables, and unrealistic ideals about how grief should unfold—allows us to accept grief as a mystery to be honored instead of a problem to solve. You'll receive practical guidance for managing stress, improving sleep, and decreasing anxiety without trying your pain being a problem you need to 'fix.' Lastly, you'll learn how to help the people you love. CLICK HERE to buy your copy.
The Grief Recovery Handbook, 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses including Health, Career, and Faith. Newly updated and expanded to commemorate its twentieth anniversary, The Grief Recovery Handbook helps people complete the grieving process and move toward recovery and happiness. Drawing from their own histories as well as from others', the authors illustrate how it is possible to recover from grief and regain energy and spontaneity. The Grief Recovery Handbook offers grievers the specific actions needed to move beyond loss such as; faith, career and financial issues, health, and growing up in an alcoholic or dysfunctional home. CLICK HERE to get your copy from Book Depository.
In Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy we are shown how we can help others in crisis, by developing compassion for ourselves, raising emotionally strong children, and creating resilient families, and communities. We are taught emotional resilience that's required to face the everyday struggles head-on, preparing us to handle the turbulent unknown parts of life. Option B teaches us how to emerge from our past traumas stronger, focused, tenacious, and with a new perspective on the future. Starting from author Sheryl Sandberg’s personal experience of bereavement, Option B goes beyond her loss to explore how a broad range of people have overcome hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war. A truly uplifting read. CLICK HERE to get your copy.
In The Upward Spiral, neuroscientist and author Alex Korb demystifies the intricate brain processes that cause depression and offers a practical and effective approach to improving your mental state. This book outlines an engaging and informative look at the neuroscience behind our emotions, which suggests that whilst there isn’t one big or general solution to depression, there are numerous simple steps you can take to change your brain activity and chemistry. This is a great read for anyone who wants to learn how to get control over their emotional state. CLICK HERE to get a copy of The Upward Spiral.
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