Your Guide to Funeral Planning | 09.06.2022

Ways to Respond to Condolences in Person and Online

Ways to Respond to Condolences in Person and Online

Reviewed By: Scott Ginsberg

Cross Checked By: William Prout

5 min read

On receiving condolences

If you are someone who has lost a loved one in the recent past, you may have received a stream of messages online offering condolences. People may have visited or continue to do so to be with you at a difficult time. Most of them may come up to you and say they are sorry for your loss. Others may offer virtual condolences – they may email you, text you or leave a message on your social media. While most people know how to console someone, knowing what to say when someone consoles you is not that easy. It may seem a bit overwhelming but it is important to be polite and acknowledge condolences. 

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How to respond to condolences

If you are wondering how to respond to condolences online or in-person, here are some ways in which you can do so:

  1. The most appropriate response in any situation, whether online or in person would be to say “thank you.” It shows that you have acknowledged their condolences and that you may not be in a position to have a lengthier conversation at that point. 
  2. If it’s in-person funeral, you could add a simple “Thank you for being here with us today.” This will show that you appreciate their making the effort to be there. Also, it’s a little more than a simple, “thank you.”
  3. If you are sending out a card to all those who visited you in person at the funeral service, you could say, “Thank you so much for being at the funeral. It meant a lot to all of us.” 
  4. You could add a personal touch by taking note of the flower arrangement or how much the person meant to your loved one. For example, “Thank you so much for being at the funeral. Thanks also for the lovely floral arrangement.” or “Thank you for coming to the funeral and being supportive. Mom always recalled her high school years with you as the best summers of her life.
  5. In some situations, people may not have been able to make it to the service in spite of their best intentions. They may send you online condolences or write you a card saying they are sorry. How to respond to condolences in such a scenario?  Say, “Thanks for your message. I am sorry you couldn’t make it to Dad’s memorial service. I know how badly you wanted to be here. Dad would have understood too.”
  6. Not everyone may stop at “I’m sorry for your loss.” They may feel like sharing an anecdote or memory of your loved one. Then you could add, “I appreciate your sharing of this anecdote with us. It means a lot to us.” 
  7. If you receive online condolences in the form of a text or on social media, you could say, “Thank you for reaching out. It’s been a difficult couple days and your message has meant a lot.”
  8. When someone not only offers condolences but has also dropped off food or groceries or taken care of stuff at home, you need to acknowledge and appreciate their support. You could say, “thank you so much for your kindness and support. It was a big relief not to have to worry about the laundry or groceries during this difficult time.”
  9. There are situations when your loved one has undergone a lot of suffering or underwent a prolonged illness. You could add, “I know that dad is in a much better place now” along with your “thank you.” in response.
  10. When you are snowed under with text messages and are unable to have a longer chat, you don’t have to feel guilty. Everyone understands the situation so just say, “Thanks for reaching out. Talk to you soon.”
  11. There are times when your friends, extended family or coworkers want to know about the service details. So, when you respond to their condolences, send out a message saying, “Thank you. Here are the details of the service…” The specific time and date are important because your friends or coworkers may want to make travel plans or cancel prior appointments. If you don’t have details yet, say, “We will share the service details at the earliest.”
  12. You may not have been able to receive calls from a friend or a coworker. In such a situation, your appropriate response should be: “I saw your call the other day and I am sorry I couldn’t call you back. I am unable to talk right now but I will call you soon.”
  13. Wondering how to respond to condolences online, for example on your Facebook page.  Just post a status update saying, “Thank you all for your comforting words and prayers. We will let you know the funeral details soon/Here are the service details…” If you wish to respond individually to all posts, you could say, “Thank you for your condolences/comforting words/kind words/prayers.”
  14. There could be a formal situation where your company, team or coworkers may express virtual condolences. A formal response would be, “I would like to offer my thanks to the whole team at XXX. I am grateful to have such kind coworkers.”

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Finding the right words helps

Your extended family, friends, neighbors or coworkers offer condolences because they mean well and want to support you. However, responding to messages of condolences, support and prayers may be a tad overwhelming for you. You are seeing a surge of emotions and it is hard to internalize grief. Knowing how to respond to condolences at such a difficult time goes a long way in lowering your mental burden at a time of loss.