The business of grief is a lonely one. It’s something you do all by yourself. You feel so much pain and wonder if you will ever feel “normal” again. While the note writing task might seem daunting, one of the kindest things you can say and do for someone who is grieving a loss is acknowledge the pain and the difficulty in losing someone so very dear.
A handwritten note lets the bereaved know you care and it will lessen their sense of isolation. Acknowledging their grief helps them understand that their pain is an appropriate response to their loss. And it does not really matter if the note arrives one week or thirty after the death. Here are some guidelines:
- Begin by communicating your sympathy or sadness at their loss.
- Acknowledge the difficulty in losing a beloved friend or family member.
- Share that you care and have been thinking of them.
- Include any common experience that demonstrates that you have an understanding of their loss. Avoid comparisons such as divorce or death of a pet.
The following is an example of how I recently handled a belated sympathy note to someone I knew, but never met the deceased:
I was sorry to hear that your dad had died. It is so difficult to lose a parent and I remember how lonely I felt after my mother’s death. I gravitated to others who had faced a similar loss and their understanding gave me comfort during the long grieving and healing process.
I just wanted to let you know that you have been in my thoughts. I hope that the memories you have of your dad will bring comfort in the weeks and months ahead.
My deepest condolences,
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, available in ebooks for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store.