Losing someone is among the most painful experiences in a person's life. Not only is death difficult to understand, it also brings with it a range of overwhelming emotions. Everyone is affected by it at some point, and each person will deal with grief differently.
Important things to remember about grief and expressions of sympathy:
- There is no right or wrong way to grieve, nor is there a time limit that goes with it. The last thing someone needs is pressure to "move on" or to "be happy". Losing a loved one has a certain finality to it unlike anything else, and the best thing to do is not have expectations about how someone "should" or "shouldn't" handle it.
- People need to feel love and support during this time. Writing a sympathy note or letter can mean so much, even though it seems like such a small gesture. A letter of sympathy shows someone that you are thinking of them and acknolwedging the depths of this loss. A letter certainly can't bring someone back, but it can give bereaved individuals comfort and peace, especially in knowing their loved one touched many lives. Including a bereavement verse may also help acknolwedge the loss. Within this site, you can learn more about how to compose a letter of sympathy and to view sample sympathy letters.
A sample letter of sympathy might read:
View Sample Letters of Sympathy
View Guide to Writing Sympathy Letters
I was very saddened to hear about ______'s death (passing). She was someone that really lived every day to the fullest. (Include a personal memory). While I know that words are only a small gesture of support, I want you to know that her spirit has touched many people's lives as it has mine. You and your family are in our thoughts (and prayers). I would like to extend an open invitation to run errands and watch the kids. I will call shortly to find out what I can do.
Again -- please know that you are very loved and supported. She (deceased's name) often shared with me how blessed she felt to have you in her life.
My deepest sympathy and love to you and yours,
- Responding to those who show support and kindness to the bereaved - For those that have lost a loved one, you may be unsure of how to respond when people send letters of sympathy or gifts and flowers. In the midst of all these emotions, it's important to know that people understand that they may not hear from you for a while. It's okay to wait to respond until you feel ready. When the time comes, you will want to thank those people that have extended support to you.
Sample thank you letters can help give you ideas of what you want to say. Just remember that the two primary purposes of funeral thank you notes are
1) to show appreciation/gratitude for another person's kindness and thoughtfulness;
2) to keep the relationship moving forward.
Ultimately, people want to be there for grieving individuals, but they may stay away because of feeling uncomfortable or unsure of what to do/say.
A simple thank you letter tells them that it's okay - and that their thoughts and kindness make a difference.