What To Say in a Condolence Message
When You Hear the News
Death is one of the most uncomfortable topics to discuss. We try
to find the right thing to say. We rush it and try to get it over
with. But whatever you do, you cannot ignore sending a condolence
message. Good etiquette dictates that you address what has
happened. A call, card, flowers, or a visit are gestures you can
make to let the family know you're thinking of them. Remember
- Acknowledge the honoree
- Ask to help with errands or arrangements if you're close to the
Be a Good Listener
Listening is an art form. At no time is this more important than
when a friend or colleague is experiencing grief. Let him or her
talk about how they are feeling and let them talk about the person
who has died. Don't try to fix it, because you can't.
According to Liz Aleshire, author of 101 Ways You Can
Help, the grieving family has an "almost physical need to talk
about what happened to her family, to share memories, to rehash the
wake and funeral." Every time they speak about their family member,
it's one step towards the healing process.
Let them lead the conversation. You can add a comment here and
there, in agreement, to keep the conversation going. Don't try to
change the subject, or bring up other people's experiences.
What (and What Not) to Say
It depends on your closeness to the honoree. If you are an
acquaintance or casual friend, you needn't say more than "I'm so
sorry" or "He was a wonderful person." Closer friends can be more
personal, saying "We're going to miss Josette very much." Do not
ask about the details of the death. If a family member does mention
their last days, try to comfort them.
Peggy Post, director and spokesperson for The Emily
Post® Institute, suggests you call on the grieving
family and try not to avoid them. Everyone grieves in their own way
and while some may want to be alone for a while, others may need
you to be there and listen - take your cues from your friend or
Don't be surprised if you feel tense or anxious before you talk
to the grieving family members. It's common (and that's why we're
here to help).
|"I'm so sorry about your
||"I know what you're going
Every griever's experience is different. No one can say they know
what someone is feeling.
|"Let me make you dinner
||"Call me if you need
|"Please know that I am
thinking of you."
||"Time heals all wounds."
"You'll get over it."
|"She was a great person."
||"She's in a better place
|"I remember what a great time
had (insert personal memory of honoree here.)"
|"At least he's not suffering
Remember not to monopolize the mourner's time. They
need time to meet with others and time alone.