Choosing the perfect way to express your condolences to a loved one or family member can be a daunting task, as it’s a highly sensitive subject.
Those you’re expressing sympathy to may feel overwhelmed, unfortunate, alone or lost. With this in mind, it’s important to approach the matter with compassion, understanding and warmth.
Condolence Meaning: dictionary
A condolence is an expression of sorrow and sympathy to someone who has suffered a grievance or loss, such as the passing of a family member, close friend or pet.
Many will often send flowers or a letter of condolence to those in this situation, to ensure them that they’re not alone. The noun condolence comes from the Late Latin word condole, which means ‘to suffer together’.
Different ways to express condolences
Condolences can be offered both in written form and in person. There are certain things you should and shouldn’t say, with the ultimate goal being to express sympathy, concern and compassion to those suffering bereavement.
This can be done in a number of ways; either by sharing a fond memory, or by simply letting those who are suffering know how much you’ll miss the departed. Knowing that you’re there for them is enough.
Some examples of what you can say are listed below:
‘I’m sorry for your loss’ – this phrase, although common, is a heartfelt way to let those you care about know of your empathy.
‘You are in my thoughts’ – without saying too much, this is a great way to let loved ones know that you understand the emotional difficulties they are experiencing. It’s also a good way to make those who have lost someone feel less isolated, whilst reminding them that you’re thinking about them and that you’re here for them if they need someone to talk to.
‘He/she was a wonderful person’ – letting loved ones who have lost someone close to them know how much you admired the person who has passed away is a great way to reignite good memories.
‘I will miss him/her’ – missing someone shows how much you cared about them and that they will always stay in your heart.
‘This must be so hard for you’ – taking notice of the grief and pain of the bereaved is very consoling. By acknowledging what they are feeling, you are making them feel less isolated.
‘I love you’ – If you’re close to the bereaved individual, reminding a grieving person that you love him or her can be extremely powerful. Grief can leave people feeling very alone; reaching out to them will remind them that they are not.
Of course, sometimes words are not enough and sharing a memory or gifting those who have lost someone with a beautiful bouquet of flowers is a great way to lift their spirits.
What not to say to someone who has experienced a loss
It’s not uncommon to be afraid to say the wrong thing to those who have lost someone close to them. However, if you speak from a place of compassion, honesty and love, they’ll acknowledge that you’re there for them. Three good rules to abide by include:
- Don’t pretend the person in question hasn’t gone
- Don’t deny that losing someone can change a life
- Don’t deny the emotional pain associated with a loss
Messages to avoid include the following:
‘I know how you are feeling’ – Whilst you may know how the individual is feeling, this saying can often have a negative effect. Almost everyone experiences grief in a different way, which means everyone is entitled to feel a unique way when it comes to a loss.
‘She or he is in a better place’ – Not everyone believes in the after life, which means this saying has the potential to be untoward.
‘How are you holding up?’ – The answer to this question is likely ‘not well’ and this particular statement can come across as somewhat casual, even if the individual suffering is putting on a brave face.
‘Now you ca start moving on with your life’ – Someone who is grieving needs space and time to come to terms with a loss. They need to both heal and grieve in their own time.
‘I don’t know what I would do if I were in your situation’ – While these words may ring true, they won’t comfort the bereaved. In fact, they’re likely to make him or her feel even more isolated.
‘At least you had a chance to say goodbye’ – A loss, for anyone, is incredibly hard, no matter how it occurs.
‘Don’t worry, you’ll feel better soon’ – Telling someone to look on the positive side won’t make them feel better at that particular moment.
Condolences meaning in different cultures and countries
Everyone expresses condolences differently, including cultures…
Protestant – Suitable expressions of compassion include attending a funeral, sending a card, sending flowers, bringing food to the family’s home or donating to a charity designated by the family. Protestant ceremonies focus on the afterlife and celebrate the late person’s life through remembrance and tributes.
Hispanic – Many practice Roman Catholic funeral traditions. Overnight visitations, mariachis, family feasts and floral tributes are all popular.
Hindu – Guests aren’t expected to offer gifts, but are expected to wear white. A Hindu priest holds the service 24 hours after the individual has passed.
Roman Catholic – Reputable and solemn floral arrangements are often selected, whilst donations are also a popular way to show your condolences.
Buddhist – White flowers are celebrated as the traditional Buddhist mourning flower. A donation is preferred instead of gifts.
Asian – White chrysanthemums are a symbol of grief in Japan, China and Korea, whilst yellow chrysanthemums are also appreciated as a traditional funeral flower.
Jewish – Fitting memorial gifts include charitable donations. A rabbi executes burials, which take place within 24 hours of death.
SerenataFlowers.com now offers an extensive range of funeral flowers and memorial flowers to help you express your deepest condolences without spending a fortune on fresh flowers. You can choose from wreaths, posies, sheaves, baskets, cushions and casket sprays, all delivered free of charge to funeral homes across the UK.