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Simple Sympathy

How to Express Sympathy

in Supporting Grief

When it comes to knowing how to express sympathy many people are at a loss for words.
Expressing sympathy can seem overwhelming at first glance, but when you look at from the perspective of what you would want if you were the one grieving, it can really put things into perspective.
Most grieving individuals simply want their loss to be acknowledged and shared by others. They want to know that others care and are thinking of them.
The best way to express sympathy is with simple gestures of sympathy.

• Holding a hand
• Giving a hug
• Sending a card
• Sharing tears
• Remembering together
• Providing a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on

How to Express Sympathy With Cards and Letters
There is a saying that goes: “The word that is heard perishes, but the letter that is written remains.” I don’t know who said it, but it is very true. Especially when it comes to messages of sympathy.
Many grieving people keep all the sympathy cards and letters they have received and take them out to read time and time again.
Write a comforting sympathy letter that will be treasured for years to come. Here are step-by-step instructions to inspire you.
How to Express Sympathy with Empathetic Listening
Empathetic listening or also called reflective listening is a skill used by counselors and therapists. It is not complicated at all. In fact it is probably the single most valuable skill you can learn to better all of your relationships. Whether it’s your spouse or a co-worker, empathetic listening can improve communication immensely.
There is perhaps no better instance in which empathetic listening can come in handy, than in expressing sympathy.
Empathetic listening is powerful, it can:

• Demonstrate to the speaker that their feelings matter and are valid
• Provide a release from painful emotions and anger
• Help them put their thoughts and fears into perspective
• Help them find their own solutions and answers
• Provide a temporary relief from the burden of grief
The thing that is really amazing about empathetic listening is that the person who is sharing will often feel that you’ve done something miraculous for them. When in reality all you’ve done is sit and listen attentively.
I suppose it is a miracle, in this day in age when someone actually turns their cell phone off long enough to have a heart to heart.
The even greater miracle is if they can avoid:
• Offering advice
• Telling their own stories
• Interupting
• Giving you a run down of all the greatest self-help books you should read
It’s actually more difficult to express sympathy if you are trying to offer advice or find a way to fix grief. You cannot make it all better. It is easier, and more helpful, to let grief be what is is…absolutely miserable. The best you can do is let them share it with you.
Maybe not your idea of a fun time, but definitely one of the most important things you do here on earth…sharing in another’s sorrow and trying to empathize with their pain.
I love this quote about sympathy:
“Next to love sympathy is the most divine passion of the human heart.”
-Edmund Burke