Words of Sympathy

When it comes to offering words of sympathy, even close friends are at a loss for words. You may be wondering if you should say something.
You might be worried about saying the wrong thing or coming across as insincere.

It’s a fast way to get up to speed and/or refresh your memory.
Some common phrases that are meant to be encouraging such as, “Time will heal all wounds” can be hurtful and undermine the feelings of grief. There are better ways to offer encouraging words and also ways to inspire hope in a dismal circumstance.

You Don’t Need to Say Much

Perhaps the most important role you can play in supporting a hurting loved one is to simply lend a listening ear. Empathetic listening is a valuable skill that anybody can easily learn. Becoming a more understanding and empathetic listener will benefit all of your relationships, but there is no other time that it is more appreciated than now. When a loved one is grieving they can be helped tremendously by the simple act of empathetic listening. Find out how sympathy and empathy go together to comfort grieving individuals.

Finding the Right Words to Express Sympathy

• “I am so sorry for your loss.”
• “I’ll be right here, if you need a listening ear.”
• “Could I help you…” (Make a specific offer)
• “Our family will miss (Donna) so much.”
• One of my favorite memories of (Jim) is…”
• “I remember when I first met (Julie) she was so…”
• “I’ve always enjoyed the way (Tom) always…”
When searching for what to say to a grieving loved one it helps to keep in mind that all they may want is acknowledgement of their loss and kind gestures. A simple “I am sorry for your loss” may be all that is needed. Sometimes a hug is just right or offering help of some kind. Statements that validate the mourner’s feelings and encourage sharing are helpful.

Words of Comfort for a Grieving Friend or Family Member

Sometimes it’s easier to comfort someone you know well. You probably know what kinds of things they find helpful and you can offer support just by being present. However, you may wondering what you should say and you may be worried about saying the wrong thing. Here are some ideas for offering words of sympathy to close friends and family members.

Words of Sympathy & Comfort

words of sympathy

Offering words of sympathy is one of the most difficult things we do and so few of us know how to do it in a supportive way. We find ourselves procrastinating instead of getting that card in the mail. The fear of saying the wrong thing can leave us…at a loss for words.

We know that nothing we say or do can take away the pain. We know that grief cannot be fixed with a gift or flowers. We can’t imagine what they are going through.

We may want to avoid the whole depressing situation altogether.

Did you know that most bereavement forums have a section devoted to venting about the rude and insensitive things people have said?

Did you know that many grieving people feel isolated from their friends and family?

Here’s the amazing thing about all of this. The things that we could do to really help and be supportive are actually very simple.

It’s the simple things we do to express sympathy actually mean the most.

Things like offering a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a comforting card, a phone call, a song, a poem, a thoughtful gift, a prayer, or simply giving a hug.

Things That Get in the Way

When we start to make it complicated by trying to fix things or provide explanations we get into trouble. This is when we are most likely going to put our in our mouth, as the expression goes.

Simple sympathy is all about doing the little things that really make a difference.

  • No advice
  • No solutions
  • No easy answers

There is an easier way.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

– Leo Buscaglia

Sympathy Cards Made Easy

One of the very best things that we can do is sending a card.

What can a sympathy card do? I know that a card doesn’t seem like a lot, but many people are comforted by kind words hand-written in a beautiful card. Sympathy cards and letter are oftentimes kept, treasured and re-read during sad times.

What should you write in a card?

It can seem overwhelming, but looking at sample messages can give you a lot if ideas for your own message.


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