#TipsonTuesday: How to Offer Condolences

Everyone experiences their grief differently when dealing with death. Some people want to be left alone, and some want to be surrounded by friends and family to hear sympathy messages and words of comfort. Whatever the situation, a heartfelt condolence and sincere words of sympathy are always appropriate.

Offer your condolence messages through writing a card, by offering sympathy gifts such as flowers or food. No matter what loss a person has experienced, letting someone know you are thinking of them with deepest sympathy during their time of grief can bring you closer to that person.

In times of tragedy, it may seem that there are just no words to tell someone how sorry you are to hear of their loss. Many people find themselves puzzled as to what they can say or do to offer appropriate sympathy messages, but it is important to remember to say something, even if it is just saying, “I’m so sorry.”

A hug is a sympathy gift that costs little and goes a long way. People who are dealing with death often say that they feel deserted by their friends during the difficulty. The friends just didn’t know what to say or do, and so they stayed away. It can be difficult to express sympathy, but it is well worth it to a friend. It is important to at least offer words of comfort and heartfelt sympathy in any way you can. The grieving person may not remember what you said later, but they will definitely remember if you are absent.

If you need help with the wording your condolence letter, there are several websites that can help you draft heartfelt condolence messages. Check lists of sympathy messages, sympathy poems, and other words of condolence. Check a condolence etiquette guide for a list of “dos and don’ts” to follow when deciding what should be said in a message of condolence.

It’s probably best not to include judgments in the condolence letter, so avoid phrases such as “It’s probably a blessing.” When in doubt, stick with the basics such as, “Please accept my deepest condolences on your family’s loss.”

Many people like to send the family sympathy gifts such as flowers after they arrive home from the funeral. Accompanied by a condolence message expressing your most sincere, deepest sympathy, the flowers may be a bright reminder that someone cares. Because eating brings people together, and the person dealing with death may have visitors from out of town, a gift of food is almost always appreciated. You can purchase a ready-made meal, deliver something home cooked, or have a gift basket delivered. The source doesn’t matter as much as the heartfelt sympathy and comforting actions you are expressing, letting the grieving person know you care.

In knowing how to offer condolences, the most important thing is sincerity. Offer to help the person in any way you can – offer your condolences by baby sitting or walking the dog. Choose the words for your condolence messages carefully, but most importantly: anything you say or do to offer deepest sympathies at the person’s difficult time will make a difference.

Words of condolence are important during healing from grief. If you believe that building a digital archive and share the stories of a loved one’s life, refer the grieving person to Everlasting Footprint.

About Cindy Readnower

Cindy Readnower, MBA, specializes in sales, marketing, and entrepreneurship. An award-winning certified Life Coach, business consultant, and publisher at Skinny Leopard Media, she helps writers produce and promote their books. She is a newspaper columnist, author of "Inherited Secrets," and a blogger.

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