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Sympathy Phrases, Funeral Phrases, Words of Sympathy

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You are in my prayers.
I am so sorry for your loss.
(Name) was a wonderful person.

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I loved her like a sister.
Please accept my condolences.
You and your family are in our thoughts.
We are here for you.  Call when you need us.
We will miss "deceased name".
You are in our hearts.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
You have my deepest sympathy.
He/She will be missed.
If there is anything we can do, let us know.
He was a hell of a guy. (informal)

Important note when thinking of something to say; Think of yourself, who you are saying this to and who you are saying this about. You will probably be able to find something perfect to say. (Example: She could always make me laugh. Or: He helped a lot of people.)

Sometimes things we say get misunderstood, or just don't come out right.  Here are some common things people say, that are usually better not said.

It is part of God's plan.
I know how you feel.
It is time to get on with your life.
She/He is in a better place.
You should . . .
You will . . .

These words may not be taken as sympathetic. In fact, most might imply that you know how they feel, or are telling them what they should do. Never push your beliefs on someone or a time limit on the grieving process.  Any sentence that begins with "You should" or "You will" should be carefully considered before you speak.

Also, it is usually better not to make statements like "I know how you are feeling".  This may be painful to your friend who is grieving, and you truthfully don't know how they are feeling most of the time.


Finding the Right Words of Sympathy During a Funeral

Finding the right words of sympathy during a time of loss can be difficult.  We want to say the right thing to help someone who is grieving. Although you may worry about the other person, it is easier than you may think to comfort a grieving friend or relative.  A sympathy card or heart to heart talk can be just the right thing.  Those who are grieving simply feel thankful that you care, and that you take the time to comfort them.  We are often hesitant to express our sympathy because of our fear of sounding artificial. This is a good choice; choosing your words of sympathy carefully will both impact the meaning to the receiver and also clarify your feelings. I really encourage you to take time before you give your condolences.

Often, just being there helps immensely.  Offer to be with them if they need someone to talk to or stay the night.  Do enjoyable things with them such as making a lunch date so that they can talk about their feelings.  Being there to listen and offer words of sympathy can offer so much comfort after a funeral.  Don't be afraid or feel awkward about showing your sympathy out of fear you may say something inappropriate. You may not say anything at all, which may make you look like you do not care. Of course you can not take away the pain, but there are many things you can do to comfort a friend during their loss. It is so important to be there for someone that is feeling loss; I encourage you to listen to them and provide some helpful words of sympathy.

Here are some sympathy phrases that you may find helpful:

"Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know that they are happy."  Author Unknown

"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal"  From a headstone in Ireland

"As you comprehend this profound loss, let yourself cry knowing each tear is a note of love rising to the heavens" Author Unknown

"Although it's difficult today to see beyond the sorrow, may looking back in memory help comfort you tomorrow"  Author Unknown

"If the future seems overwhelming, remember that it comes one moment at a time"  Beth Mende Conny

"My deepest sympathy to you at this time of sorrow. He/She is in God's care now and what better care could we ever ask for him/her?  Now I pray for your comfort in the days ahead.  God bless you and keep you in His tender care and love for all eternity." 

Whether on a sympathy card or in a letter, these quotes offer comfort.  Never wait to express sympathy because you are unsure if it will be taken the right way, and don't waste too much time.  Sending a memorial card, a handwritten letter or a bouquet of flowers shows that you are thinking of them and that you care. It is a good idea to deliver your card or flowers yourself, so that your friend knows you are there to share the burden of grief.  Give yourself, and your grieving friend will certainly know how much you care.


Understanding and Helping During the Grieving Process

People who are grieving need someone to talk to.  They NEED to talk, so it is important for you to lend your ears.  You may feel overwhelmed, uncertain or awkward, but they most likely feel the same way.  You may feel that there isn't much you can do to help, but just being their to talk with them gives them comfort.  After the grieving period, they will remember that you supported them in a very difficult time, and it will help you bond.  Simply let your friend know you care, and that you support them and are there to listen any time.  You really don't have to give advice or answers, they just want to share their feelings.  This often helps with the grieving process.

Strong emotions are felt during the grief period, and people grieve differently.  When talking with your friend about grieving the loss of a loved one, using words like died will help your friend open up, because they see that you are comfortable in using the word.  Let them know that you are truly sorry for their loss.  You might say something like "I am not sure of the right thing to say, but I want you to know that I care about you.  You can talk to me".  Ask them what you can do to help.  Also, allow your friend to yell, cry, scream or get angry.  These are normal feelings and need to be expressed.  Off your shoulder to cry on, and just be there for them during a time they really need you. You are there to offer comfort and support, not criticism.  When there is silence and nothing really to say, just offer a hug.  Sitting in silence is perfectly ok.

Learning about the grieving process can be very helpful in assisting a loved one with grief. Finding a Grief Website can give you a fresh perspective on how to deal with losing a loved one and also dispel some misconceptions about grief.

Offer Long-Term Support

You should offer long-term support to your grieving friend, as they will need support during holidays, the deceased's birthday, and on the anniversary of the day they died.  These times can be especially difficult for someone who has lost a loved one.

Also, you should watch for warning signs of depression or suicide, although these things are not that common.  Just be aware of the symptoms.  These warning signs are based on information from the Mayo Clinic:

Symptoms of depression include:

Loss of interest in normal daily activities
Feeling sad or down
Feeling hopeless
Crying spells for no apparent reason
Problems sleeping
Trouble focusing or concentrating
Difficulty making decisions
Unintentional weight gain or loss
Irritability
Restlessness
Being easily annoyed
Feeling fatigued or weak
Feeling worthless
Loss of interest in sex
Thoughts of suicide or suicidal behavior
Unexplained physical problems such as back pain or headaches

Be sure to be aware of your grieving friend for these symptoms. Be mindful of what is said and how reactions are made. You may expect some anger, rage, helplessness and sadness from someone grieving initially.  If a good amount of time has passed and your friend's grief seems to overtake everyday life there may be a problem.  If you really become concerned, let them know this.  You can say something like "I am concerned that you are not eating well", or "I am worried about your not sleeping".  Even if your friend does not have many of the symptoms, you might still want to give him/her helpful information such as where support group meetings are held in the area, hotline numbers, and nearby counseling options.

Hopefully these tips and information will help you comfort a close friend or relative during the grieving process.  Feeling awkward is natural, but don't be afraid to offer words of sympathy and a much needed shoulder to anyone close to you who is grieving.  It is often what they need most.