How to Express Sympathy After a Funeral

Words Cannot Fully Express

When offering condolences, either in person or via writing, it can be difficult to know exactly what to say.  Choosing the correct responses to express sympathy after a funeral can be complicated as this is a delicate time for all people involved.  This article provides information on the most suitable means of expressing sympathy to people who have lost loved ones showing what you should and should not say.

1. I Am Sorry For Your Loss

While this phrase may be considered one of the most cliché expressions, it is also noted as the most succinct means of communicating sympathy after a funeral.  If you are not sure of how to offer your condolences, then telling a person you are sorry for their loss will let the individual know you care about them during this tragic time.

2. This Must Be Hard For You

By acknowledging the grief and pain felt by the bereaved, it is possible to show you care for them during this time.  The majority of people experiencing loss will feel isolated. Acknowledging the emotional difficulty of the situation will help them feel less alone.

3. I Will Keep You In My Thoughts

Allowing the bereaved to know you are aware of their emotional challenges, the individual will feel less isolated by their situation.  By pointing out that you are keeping them in their thoughts, you will remind the person that you care about them and are expressing a degree of sympathy. 

4. I Love You

Telling the bereaved that you love them is not necessarily the best verbal condolence one can offer if you are not close to the individual.  However, as is mentioned, grief can leave a person feeling isolated and by reminding them they are loved you will remind them they are not alone in their grief.

5. I'm Here if You Want to Talk About Memories

If you did not know the person who passed away, offering a "shoulder to cry on" can make the bereaved feel a sense of comfort. Sending funeral flowers or sympathy arrangements can be a visual reminder that you care and are there for the person. Letting him or her know you are there for them in the future can minimize stress and soften the feelings of pain.

Avoid These Condolences

send condolences

The majority of people are fearful of saying the "wrong thing" when trying to offer condolences after a funeral, so they often do not say anything.  In some cases, they may try to express sympathy but it may be more harmful than beneficial.  Below are some examples of what you should not say to a bereaved one after a funeral.

1. I Know How You Are Feeling

While this phrase may appear to be an empathic statement, it can have the opposite effect.  People experience loss differently and it is better to allow the bereaved to experience his or her loss in their own way.

2. They Are In A Better Place

Unless you are certain that the bereaved believes in an afterlife, it may be detrimental to make this type of statement.  In fact, saying that the deceased is in a better place may be offensive to a person who does not believe in an afterlife.

Foster Comfort and Peace

After a loved one passes, either suddenly or expectedly, there may be a lot of emotional and physical turmoil that the bereaved experiences. Based on your relationship with the person, figure out if there are things you can do to help them in a practical or supportive way to create peace as they adjust to the new normal.