When someone you know loses a friend or family member, it’s not easy deciding when and how best to respond. You may find yourself unsure of what to say or do. Sometimes a simple phrase such as, “I’m sorry for your loss,” can be extraordinarily meaningful.
Here are six helpful tips from 1-800-Flowers.com’s Celebrating A Life online resource on how to console a loved one during their time of grief:
Allowing a grieving person to express how they feel can be a huge help. Try to listen without offering advice or interrupting. Letting people share memories and talk about their loved one can be a part of the healing process.
Be specific when offering help
Make a specific commitment to being with the person who needs you. Offering assistance with day-to-day matters can be very comforting, but be sure to offer something specific, such as, “I’m coming over with groceries on Saturday.” That way, you’re offering help without placing the burden on the grieving person to figure out what to bring and when.
Navigate social media appropriately
When acknowledging the news of a loss, stick with the communication medium through which you initially received the information. If the news came by phone call, return the call. If you learned about the death through social media, it is appropriate to reply on social media, just be sure to keep your message brief on public pages. More detailed expressions of sympathy should be conveyed in private posts.
It is normal for people who are grieving to experience a range of emotions. It takes time to heal, so be patient and allow them to grieve at their own pace.
Send a card
Show your concern and support by sending a card. Take the time to put your own personal message inside.
Don’t minimize their pain
It is important to keep the focus on the grieving person. Resist the urge to share stories of times that you’ve lost a loved one. Let your friend or family member share their own stories and memories.
1-800-Flowers.com has been helping customers express sympathies for more than 40 years. Now, the company has created an online sympathy hub for tips and advice, directly from experts, on how best to express sympathy and condolences. Topics include Appropriate Sympathy Etiquette Across Different Religions, How to Write a Eulogy, How to Create a Memory Garden, and Sympathy Etiquette and Social Media.
The site serves as a resource for people in their time of need and is intended to make their experience a little easier to manage. People need to have a greater understanding of how to help their friends, family and co-workers in coping with a loss.
For more information, visit www.1800flowers.com/sympathyadvice, or call 1-800-Flowers.com’s Sympathy Customer Service line at 866-538-2259.