Avoiding Cliché: How to Properly Express Your Sympathy
Post by: Ask The Director

 When a friend or loved one faces loss, it’s both good and right to say something to them—to express sympathy and to offer support. Knowing what to say can be difficult, of course. You want to be sensitive, heartfelt, and encouraging, but you also want to avoid cliché.

Saying something like "my thoughts and prayers are with you” or "I’m sorry for your loss” may be true, it may be well-intentioned, and it may even be well-received. For those who are looking for something a little bit more personal or eloquent, our best advice is to speak words of empathy and compassion, straight from the heart.

One particular suggestion? "Remember that we love and care about you.” The person who is in mourning may know this intellectually, but actually hearing it said out loud can be powerful—and there is nothing cliché about it. A similar sentiment is something like, "May you be comforted by the outpouring of love surrounding you.”

Also, remember that simplicity is usually the best policy—and that something very straightforward can be incredibly meaningful. "We will remember ____ in our hearts forever” is a wonderful affirmation that the deceased’s memory will linger and that the person mourning is not the only one committed to keeping that memory alive.

One more suggestion: "We send thoughts of peace and courage to you.” Those qualities can seem elusive during a season of mourning. So when you send them, they will surely be received with gratitude.

Speaking words of sympathy is an important way to console someone who is grieving—and you can do so simply and sincerely without reaching for the tried-and-true clichés.


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