16 Apr What do I say?
You have received news that someone has died. Maybe it was someone you knew personally, or even a relative of a friend whom you may have never met. Either way, most of the time, we don’t know what to say to the grieving, especially if we don’t know the survivors. What are the proper steps for acknowledging the death in a sympathetic manner without sounding like your reading a script? Lots of people encounter this issue. It’s easy to default to the obligatory “I’m sorry for your loss”, which is completely appropriate yet, some people feel this doesn’t convey exactly what they are really trying to say. Most of the time a person who has experienced a death understands that everyone around them is sorry about what has happened, what they need to hear is genuine comments of care. Basic human needs get lost in the jumble of grief, shock and making funeral arrangements.
A good rule in giving comfort to someone who is grieving is genuineness, we are all real people with real fears and flaws. Try asking if they are getting rest, eating or getting out of the house, just as a few examples. Don’t be afraid of humor, appropriate humor that is, it can ease tension for you and them. And then, if you are just stuck and can’t think of the right words, then don’t say anything at all. A simple touch, hand squeeze or a reassuring hug can sometimes convey exactly what you want and can be more comforting than words.