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What’s The Best Way To Say, “I’m Sorry For Your Loss?”

First things first… there is no one correct way to handle a death. Everyone is impacted differently, everyone grieves differently and everyone hurts.

But the best way to say is not to say those words, “I’m sorry for your loss,” but to do something that helps the grieving person.

There was a recent headline that went like this:

“Adam Levine offers to pay for Christina Grimmie’s funeral
Jun 13, 2016 – On Friday night, singer and The Voice contestant Christina Grimmie was shot and killed at an Orlando, Florida concert at the age of 22. Amid the outpouring of support her family has received in the days since, her former The Voice coach Adam Levine has offered to pay for both the funeral and Grimmie’s mother’s flight to the event, according to the late singer’s brother.”

That was a very nice gesture, but what would have made it even better is if the headline stated:

“Adam Levine will pay for Christina Grimmie’s funeral”

If he just would have said, “Don’t worry, I will pay,” rather than put the burden on her family to reach back to Adam for assistance. Just remove that step.

That same subtlety can help be your guideline when reaching out to your grieving friend.

Actions Speak Louder, And With More Love, Than Words

We all understand that actions speak louder than words. Your bereaved friend will need help with all sorts of items, many of which that they don’t even know that they will need. And, they will need help in the foreseeable future. If you can help without getting in the way, or doing what you think is best without checking with us first then you can really demonstrate how sorry you are.

Here is an example of what a good friend might do… as soon as they are informed about the loss, they show up at the home with an overnight bag, a box of Kleenex and say “I’m here to be with you. I am here to help you. I here to hold you. I will answer the phone or see who is at the front door. I’ve got you.”

When people lose someone, they are often depressed and don’t feel like doing much of anything. Here is are a few ideas you can do to make life better for your friend.

  • Do Something Nice – Create A Comforting Meal
  • Do Something Nice – Help Out With Funeral Tasks
  • Do Something Nice – Help Out With Daily Tasks
  • Do Something Nice – Help Guide Them Through The Funeral Maze
  • Be Sympathetic, But Don’t Exasperate The Situation
  • The Best Way To Say “I’m Sorry For Your Loss”

Do Something Nice – Create A Comforting Meal

If you know them well, you can offer to go over to their home (or have them come to your home) and cook a meal with them in the kitchen. While you are with them, try and determine if they want your company or if you just prepare the meal and leave. Whatever works for them.

Go straight to your kitchen and prepare the tastiest meal that you know they will love. As a bonus, make an extra large batch for your friend, then place it into separate containers so they can freeze some or place the meals in the frig for a few days. Be sure to write the date and name of the dish on the container.

If you can’t cook you can always order something from their favorite restaurant.

If you are not sure about food preferences or dietary issues, just ask them.

Do Something Nice – Help Out With Funeral Tasks

There are many tasks that come up due to the funeral. Can you provide help with any of these items?

Help coordinate any out-of-town relatives coming for the funeral. Coordinate airplane arrivals, find them a hotel or you could even offer one of them a place to stay with you.

If small children accompany parents, they may need babysitting or something to do. Can you watch the children for a few hours? Can you coordinate a trip to the park?

Even small things like shining shoes or ordering flowers go a long way to helping out.

Do Something Nice – Help Out With Daily Tasks

There are many routine tasks that still need to be accomplished as well. Can you provide help with any of these items?

Do they have pets? You can offer to pet sit, pet walk, feed their pets, etc. Simply say, “I love animals. Can I come over and play with your pet?”

Do they have trash to take out?

Is their yard or garden in need of attention? Can you help out? Can you hire someone to attend to yard tasks for them?

Are there basic errands such as running to the store, picking up dry cleaning or returning library books?

Do Something Nice – Help Guide Them Through The Funeral Maze

There will be paperwork to sign, one-time items to decide upon, appointments to be kept, family members who are visiting, obituaries to write, services to coordinate, eulogies to prepare, guests to update, cemetery plots to acquire, wills to manage and more.

Offer to go with them when they meet with the funeral home. They will not feel like negotiating the best services or clearly be aware of what they need, and what they don’t need, to buy.

Simply state that you understand that they are going through a lot and volunteer to coordinate or research whatever they need.

Be Sympathetic, But Don’t Exasperate The Situation

Try not to say, “I know how you feel,” because even if you do, they are consumed with their grief and they aren’t ready to hear about your experiences when they are struggling with their own feelings.
Simply say, “I’m here if you need to talk. I am here is you need someone to listen to you.”

Don’t ask your friend how their loved-one died. They will tell if they want to. And, make sure you run interference for others who want to ask about the cause of death. It is none of their business.

Remember, your job is not to tell them how your friend should feel or what they should do. Your job is to be their friend, listen and help out.

If you can’t help out and want to say something to your friend, then go ahead and say, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Don’t elaborate, just let them know it is heartfelt and honest. You can something like, “I am so sorry for your loss. I will always remember your mother’s grace, the way she loved her family and how she instilled her values into you.”

When you see your friend over the next few weeks, there is no need to ask, “How are you doing?” Your friend is still grieving – don’t ask and make it worse. If they want to say something, they will.

The Best Way To Say “I’m Sorry For Your Loss”

The best way to say that you are sorry, isn’t really to say it, it is to do something to show it. Help out your friend by simply removing any of the above items that you can. Until you experienced a major loss, you can not fully fathom how it feels.

If you want to say more, then handwrite a note and give it to your friend. They can then read it when they are ready.

Rinse And Repeat

If you can, call or visit your friend at least weekly over the next month or two. Your friend may need help cleaning up an attic, a garage, a bedroom or an entire home. They may need to have a garage sale or coordinate donations to charity. They may need help filling out forms, searching for documents or just getting through the day. Friends who are grieving people don’t stop feeling their pain once the funeral is over.

And that’s how you say that you’re sorry for someone’s loss.

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