Expressions of Grief
If you are close to a grieving person, you may wonder how to appropriately express your grief to them. Expressions of grief are deeply personal, and they are influenced by your relationship to the person who has suffered a loss. In addition, factors like culture and religion may play a role.
There’s no question about it—responding compassionately to the news that someone you care about has endured a loss is essential. It can be tricky to find the right thing to say or do, however. You certainly don’t want to overwhelm the bereaved person with talk of their loss. Still, you will want to do all you can to be supportive. It’s a tricky path to walk, especially since no two people experience grief the same way.
When it comes to expressions of grief, there are some strategies that are useful for most people. You’ll want to tailor your approach based on your relationship with the bereaved person and how they are handling the loss.
Table of Contents
- Send Flowers or Cards
- Donations to a Cause
- Go to the Service
- Follow Up Later
- Dealing with Expressions of Grief
Send Flowers or Cards
Sending flowers or cards to somehow who has suffered a loss is a great way to express your grief and sympathy. Flowers show that you care, and they add a reminder of life’s beauty to somber events like wakes and funerals.
If you can, try to send flowers that are meaningful to your loved one. Did the person who passed on love yellow roses? Choose an arrangement that features these prominently. Were they enamored with tulips? Your friend or family member will likely appreciate the reminder.
Cards are an equally appropriate way to express your grief. These are a more private option, giving you the opportunity to explain how you feel without the constraints of time or protocol.
At a wake or funeral, the bereaved individual will likely be busy dealing with minutiae, as well as greeting other guests. They may not have time for a long discussion. In a card, you can express how you are feeling and show your support. The bereaved person can read it at their convenience.
When in doubt, send both flowers and a card. Neither have to be particularly expensive (though flowers can be), and both are traditional and universally appreciated ways to express sympathy and grief.
Donations to a Cause
Showing that you care by donating to a cause or memorial that was important to the person who has passed can be a tremendous thing. This not only lets your grieving loved one know that you care, it emphasizes your understanding of both them and the person who has passed.
Your gift extends the influence that the departed individual had and helps them to live on through good works. It’s a great way to make the world a better place, all while expressing your grief.
Go to the Service
It’s a common saying: go to the funeral. There’s a reason that this advice is so often touted. Going to a wake, funeral, memorial service, or visitation shows that you care. It proves that you are invested in the well-being, grief, and healing of the bereaved. It illustrates your willingness to support your loved one who is going through a painful period.
While attending the service, talk to the person you know, as well as any of their friends or family members who also knew the departed individual. Tell them why you loved the person who has passed, or, if you never met, why you loved hearing stories about them.
Be kind, lend a listening ear, and give hugs or handshakes when appropriate. Everyone deals with grief in their own way, but perceptive listening and following the lead of the bereaved will go a long way toward helping them heal.
Follow Up Later
Just as important as showing up for a funeral is showing up when all the hubbub has ended. Your loved one probably needs you now more than ever, so don’t stop calling, bringing meals, offering help, or just checking in.
It’s common for the bereaved to feel depressed or lost after burial or cremation has occurred and life returns to “normal,” but a new normal that they aren’t yet accustomed to. It’s now that they may need your expressions of grief and sympathy the most.
You can initiate conversations with phrases like “I’ve been thinking of you” or ask “How can I help?” They may just want to talk, or they may need to get out of the house and take their mind off what is happening in their life. Whatever the case may be, your willingness to go with the flow and meet them where they’re at will be a tremendous help.
Dealing with Expressions of Grief
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