“What do I say?” My husband asked me as he tried to summon the right words for a milestone birthday card. Birthday messages are easy compared to trying to express condolences for a loss. What can you say when a client loses a loved one? Finding the right healing words doesn’t come easy. And, although true expressions of prayer are often welcome by the faithful, the overused sentiment, “you are in my thoughts and prayers” has been tossed out too much to those who suffered hurricanes or were victims of crimes.
Clients respect a well-wisher who is thoughtful as well as authentic. So, take the time to select the right words of sympathy that convey your compassion. How you respond depends in large part on your relationship with both the deceased and the bereaved.
Recently, I was on the receiving end of some wonderful expressions of sympathy. Below are comforting expressions you may wish to consider:
- He’ll be with you in the places you go, in the things you do.
- I wish you comfort in all the memories you shared.
- I know how much you admired her, and how lucky you were to have had the relationship you had. (Or, I know how proud of you he was….)
- I hope you can reflect on the fullness of your relationship, and be grateful for the time you had together.
- I remember when I met your (loved one), and what impressed me was (memory).
- After a long illness – Take comfort knowing that she isn’t suffering any longer.
- When you feel sad, try to summon a happy memory and replace the sadness with that happy one.
- I know you will miss him and he will be missed by so many others as well.
- I am so sorry for the pain you and your family are going through right now. It is not an easy journey to lose someone who meant so much.
One of the most memorable lines was part of a greeting card that said, “We will never be the same as we were before this loss, but are ever so much better for having had something so great to lose.” (curlygirldesign.com)
Know that reaching out with sincerity is what matters most. You can’t go wrong if you reflect on the person you know, either the deceased or the bereaved, and speak from the heart.