Sympathy and condolence messages are among some of hardest to write, no matter how well you know the person who’s been bereaved. We’ve got some tips to help you.
When it comes to grief, everyone’s experience is so unique that it can be very hard to predict how they’ll respond to messages of condolence and sympathy.
There’s no single way to support people after a bereavement, or a specific phrase you can use that’s guaranteed to make them feel better. But there are plenty of small ways to show someone you’re thinking of them.
Don’t overthink it
Finding the right words to send to someone in these situations can feel completely impossible, so don’t worry about getting it wrong.
"I think we're always afraid of getting it wrong. We live in fear of getting it wrong. But by the time someone's died, nothing can get worse. So, I think if you can do anything to demonstrate you're thinking of someone then it's always going to be a bonus." - Simon Lycett
It may be an overused phrase, but in these cases, it often is the thought that counts, and the fact that you’ve said something matters much more than the specific words you use.
It can sometimes help to think of the first message you send as the start of a conversation that you can both come back to.
A short, simple message can be enough
"When my son died, Leonard Cohen emailed me: ‘I’m with you, brother.’ It was one of the most meaningful messages I received at the time." - Nick Cave
You don’t need to sum up everything you want to say to that person in one message. In fact, that might be overwhelming for them to read all at once.
Sometimes the shortest messages can mean the most to people too. A simple ‘I’m with you’ or ‘I’m thinking of you’ could be exactly what they want to hear.
If you know the person who’s died, you could also say something about what they meant to you. Try to avoid phrases like ‘I know how you feel’ though, because everyone experiences grief differently.
Check in regularly to see how they’re doing
Check in with them daily - even if it's just a quick text.
It’s likely that the person who’s grieving will be getting a lot of messages from friends, family and acquaintances in the first days and weeks after their loss, but these can begin to lessen in the weeks following.
Sending a regular ‘How are you feeling today?’ or ‘I’m here if you need to talk’ text or email can remind them you’re still there for them without making them feel under pressure to write a long response.
Send them a letter
Send them a handwritten note and a bunch of flowers.
When someone receives a handwritten letter or note it shows them you’ve put some time and thought into writing and sending it.
For an extra thoughtful touch, you can send a bunch of flowers too. Maybe their favourites, if you know what they are, or a bouquet in a colour they particularly like?
Buy them a gift
Put together a care package for them - socks, a scented candle, chocolate.
You don’t have to use words to show someone you’re thinking of them. Making someone a cup of tea in the office, cooking them a meal or sending them something thoughtful in the post like a box of chocolates can mean a lot too.
"You don't need to figure out how to help them make it okay, that's not your job. My advice is just be there for them. And there are a multitude of ways you can do that. If you can make a killer banana bread, that's a fantastic way of being there." - Dustin Lance Black
Do something practical for them
Pick up the essentials for them - Bread, Milk, Toilet Roll.
When people are grieving, it can make it much harder for them to take care of themselves and go about their daily life.
If you know the person well, ask about specific practical tasks you can help them with, like going to the shops, picking up their kids from school or doing the washing up.
Just be there
"Be a human next to someone. Don’t expect anything back. You might just have to sit there, but that could be enough." - Cariad Lloyd
It can be very difficult to know what someone will want when they’re grieving, so if you can, take the lead from them.
Sometimes they may want to talk about their bereavement, sometimes they won’t. Sometimes they may just want someone to have a cup of tea, binge-watch TV shows or just sit with them for a while.
Letting someone know that you’re there, for whatever they need, can be very reassuring.
This article is from Marie Curie - https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/blog/what-should-i-say-to-someone-whos-grieving/263446?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialpaid&utm_campaign=brand2019&utm_content=content_aud_article_how_to