Last month I wrote a post about "How to Express Your Condolences" in which I shared a link to the Obituary Help website. Today's guest post was written by Suzie Kolber, a writer at the Obituary Help website. Read on for Suzie's 3 very good tips to help you express sympathy in the loss of a loved one.
One of the most difficult things for a person to do is respond to someone who has lost a family member, friend, co-worker or other significant someone. It can be an awkward time as you struggle for the right words to say. Here are three tips to make this situation easier for both you and the person you want to comfort.
Tip 1: Be Sincere
One of the most common mistakes you can make is to be insincere. It’s not intentional, but it happens when you say something you don’t mean. “I understand how you feel” is a prime example of this. If you’ve never lost a spouse, you can’t understand what it feels like for someone else to lose one.
Even if you have been through a similar situation, you can’t pretend to know exactly how the other person feels. Everyone is unique and so are their feelings and actions. It’s much better to say “I don’t know how you feel, but I’m here for you” when you express condolences.
Tip 2: Don’t Advise
To be helpful, some people will tell you how to deal with grief. They may say you need to keep busy or talk about the person (or not talk about them), but this is not the correct way to express sympathy for someone. Everyone deals with grief in their own way, and you can’t determine what is best for someone else.
If you want to be helpful, form your “advice” in the form of an offer. You can say something like “Give me a call if you need to talk” or “Let me know if you’d like to go for a walk sometime.” This phrasing puts the suggestion in their mind without telling them how they should handle their situation.
Tip 3: Silence is Golden
When someone has lost a loved one, others often feel they must say something. They look for inspirational words that will make the situation better. Unfortunately, you don’t have a magic wand to make the pain disappear, and in many cases your words can wound more. Instead, feel free to say nothing.
Sometimes the greatest way you can express condolences to someone suffering from the death of a loved one is by saying nothing. You can just sit with the person, give them a hug or hold their hand. No words are necessary in times like these. In fact, the person may not feel like talking or they may not want to come up with an appropriate response. The quiet can have the most healing power.
Many times, a person will avoid talking to someone who has suffered a great loss because they don’t know what to say. This is not the right response because that person needs to feel your support. You don’t have to be eloquent in your sympathy as long as you are sincere. You don’t even need words at all to convey your feelings. Just your presence can be more than enough to let them know you care.
Suzie Kolber is a writer at http://obituarieshelp.org/words_of_condolences_hub.html . The site is a complete guide for someone seeking help for writing words of condolences, sympathy messages, condolence letters and funeral planning resources.