It is common to feel awkward or uncertain about what to say to a bereaved person in the days following their loss. You can demonstrate your love, attention, and support to a grieving person in a number of ways. While just your presence can be enough, still a kind word, a compassionate touch, or a loving hug can mean much to show the bereaved that you care about and support them.
The following expressions of sympathy can help to convey your compassion and concern for the bereaved. Depending on how close you were to the deceased person and the bereaved, some or all of the following expressions may be appropriate.
- I will miss (the deceased).
- (The deceased) was a wonderful person. (You may then want to share a memory, but you should keep it short if other people are waiting to speak to the bereaved person).
- This must be so hard for you.
- I love you.
It is best to avoid clichés when expressing sympathy, although they are common and easy to communicate, they can be cold-feeling and often come across as “just something to say”. Avoid phrases like “I am sorry for your loss”, these phrases remove you from the situation and can come across as distant feeling to the bereaved.
The goal of expressing sympathy is to offer your compassion and concern for the bereaved. You can say how much you will miss the person who died, or you can share a happy memory. The most important thing to communicate is that you care about the bereaved person and you are available as a source of support. If you offer your support in emotional or practical ways, do not put the burden of contact on the bereaved, if you want to talk to them or help them, initiate conversation or offered support.