Monday, October 22, 2012

Manners Monday: Sympathy Notes

Today's topic isn't one that we think about too often but it's one that we'll have to address at one point or another. Today's shorter post offers some tips on the proper etiquette pertaining to those who have lost a loved one.

It is always proper and even expected for a lady to express her deepest sympathies upon the death of someone she has known, respected or admired. It is best not to wait too long, within 24 of hearing the news is appropriate (if hearing it second hand).

How to Address a Grieving Person:

To a dear friend who has just lost a loved one, a classy woman might say:

"I also considered Laura to be a close friend and I will miss her so much."

To a dear friend who has just lost a loved one, a classy woman may write:

"I was sorry to hear of your sister's recent passing, You are in my thoughts (and prayers -if you are a spiritual person and mean this sincerely)."

What not to say:

"Please let me know if there is anything I can do."  OR "Call me if you need anything."

Making such a statement allows one to throw out the facade of caring without actually committing to do anything tangible. While a genuine intent may be there, instead, it is best to offer something practical that would be greatly appreciated at this sensitive time such as bringing a meal for the family or offering to take care of the plants, mail or a pet while they are out of town attending the funeral. Follow up with them days or weeks later to see what more you can do.

At a time of grieving and loss, a bright bouquet of flowers, while not required, is always a thoughtful way to provide something cheerful for the family to help lift their spirits and remind them that they are cared about by you.

"I totally understand how you feel (or what you are going through)."

As much as this may sound comforting, it can rub someone the wrong way. Even if you had a friend or family member who passed away recently in a similar manner or the same type of family member, etc., we can never know exactly how someone else feels or what they are going through and it's best not to make such assumptions.

In times like these, one will always remember the kindness of a friend. Be a shoulder to cry on or there to listen, sometimes that's the best gift for someone in pain. It is precisely the time to make yourself more available to console a loved one but also be willing to provide the space that they may need to reflect and also grieve privately.

I think this is an important topic and while this is a delicate subject, if you have been in a situation as the friend comforting another or the one who was comforted, I would love to hear your words of wisdom. Was there something that someone did that really helped you during such a transitional time or were there words or actions that were not at all helpful in the process of grieving.


*image credit


  1. This post was perfect timing. As perfect as a condolence message can be, I suppose. Thank you, I kept my message short, almost aping your suggestion verbatim.

    1. Although it's not an easy time, I'm glad to hear this message came at the right time, Aleysius! :)

  2. Been browsing for some nice sympathy card messages or just any words to uplift and comfort people who are downhearted. I felt happy to have found this inspirational page of yours. These words are very nice. Thanks and keep sharing :)


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