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This year we have already attended several memorial services, including one over a week ago. During such painful times, the natural tendency is to keep one’s distance because sometimes it’s hard to find the perfect words to say to the grieving person (s). But really, writing even the most basic ordinary sympathy message is more important than doing nothing at all. If you don't do anything, this will leave you with a black cloud over your head and you’ll have that gnawing feeling that your silence has made someone think you don’t care. Even though it’s not easy, it is important to reach out in sympathy.

Personally, I can tell you that one way to help grieving ones to deal with their emotional heartache and ease their emotional wounds is by receiving tender care over time like a physical wound. Do not underestimate the value of providing consolation by means of a sympathy note, or a letter. Such expressions found within those notes make the bereaved feel loved and cared for. A sympathy note is the strongest healing defense against loneliness. True, our words won’t take away the pain of losing a loved one, but they’re much needed both at the time and years later. Your condolence note may be reread months or years later, giving comfort and help heal their painful heart.

Writing condolence notes is much easier if you yourself have experienced the death of someone you loved. Not only do you know how important it is to receive a thoughtful note, letter, or card, but you also know what words you needed to hear and were comforted by. Try to recall specific words that people said or wrote to you that were most comforting.

Now, still wondering what soothing words of consolation to write? If you really don’t know what to say at all, here are a few helpful examples of how to write sympathy messages, including the ‘Do’ Say and Don’t Say’:

·     You could simply write down an encouraging quote or a hopeful Bible verse.

·      If you knew the deceased, you could share a happy memory that you cherish or a quote he/she liked.

·     “We don’t know what to say except that our heart is very saddened for you. We can’t understand exactly how you feel, but we know God does and will keep raising you up. We hope that our prayers will help a little.”

·     “I’m so sorry for your loss. May God sustain you at time of such great loss.”

·    “May you find comfort in knowing that your dear one is safe in the memory of God, who will eternally remember every detail about him and bring him back again in the resurrection.”

·      “While words fail to capture the pain of losing a loved one, we look forward to the time when words will fail to capture the joy of having our heavenly Father return your dear one to you.”

·     “It is with deep sympathy I write this card. Wishing you peace to bring comfort, courage to face the days ahead and loving memories to forever hold in your heart.”

·     “I’m writing this note to let you know that I’m thinking about you during this painful moment. Please know that I love you and I’m here for you.”

The basic ‘Do Say’ Phrases

‘I’m sorry…’
‘We’re going to miss him or her …’
‘I have so many wonderful memories of him or her …’
‘Just wanted to check in. I hope you’re doing okay; I will write again after the memorial service …’
‘I’m thinking of the nice time we all had together last …’
I remember …’
‘I knew …’

‘Don’t Say’

‘I didn’t know him very well…’
‘It’s awful…’
‘I’m so sad, I’m so upset…’
‘You must be devastated…’
‘It’s better this way…’
‘I don’t know what to say…’
‘At least you didn’t have to… {Don’t try to second-guess what they would have preferred to the person’s death if they’d had the choice.}’
‘Life must go on…’
‘I know how you feel…’
‘Is there anything I can do for you or what can I do to help?’ (They will always refuse.) 

Instead, make a thoughtful care package of favorite things or practical things to drop by. Perhaps things like artisanal food items, wine, gourmet cheese. Or a bouquet of flowers, a spa basket with great self-carepampering goodies with a relaxing scented candle. You can never go wrong with a loving gesture, remember, the smallest effort can make such a huge impact.

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