It is often hard to know what to say when a friend, co-worker or loved one loses someone close to them. While buying a well-meant sympathy card is one way to help express your condolences, you still have to sign your name to it, and you will usually want to sign the card with more than just your name. Depending on your relationship with the person grieving and that person's personal beliefs, there are several approaches you can take.
- Skill level:
Close with sympathy. Examples can include "With my deepest sympathy" or "With my sincere condolences." You can also use more intimate language such as "I will keep you in my thoughts" or extend this wish to include the entire family, "I will hold your family in my thoughts."
Consider religious comforts. If you know the grieving person subscribes to a specific religious doctrine, you can quote various comforting passages. For example, you could write "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." You can also sign off with the more personal "I will keep you and your family in my prayers during these difficult times."
Offer help. You can sign off with "If there's anything I can do, please let me know." If there are specific tasks you know the bereaved will need, such as help with tasks the person who passed away might have done as the only one able to do so, then make the offer. You can also promise to come to visit or cook for the bereaved.
Avoid trite, clichéd expressions. These include phrases such as "The Lord works in mysterious ways," "I know what you're going through" or "He's gone to a better place." Phrases such as these are impersonal and, at worst, inappropriate. They might not bring the comfort you wish to bring.
Be direct if nothing else seems to fit. A simple "I'm sorry" is sincere and direct.
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