Offering condolences without offending -

Offering condolences without offending

Finding the right words to comfort someone who's lost a loved one can be really difficult. And, unfortunately, it's easy to say the wrong thing. Our communications coach, Marcia Brandwynne, has some helpful advice for offering condolences after a loved one's passing.

Whether it's your close friend, a neighbor or a co-worker who is hurting, Marcia says her best advice is to express yourself in a heartfelt manner, either in person or in a written note.

But what do you say?

"First you have to think about what they must be feeling, and you can then understand their pain and the right sentiments will naturally come out," Marcia explains.

If it seems appropriate, you should share an inspiring or humorous memory.      

"When my husband died several years ago, people wrote me notes and emails about how he had affected their lives, what his friendship had meant to them. And they told me some funny things about my sweet Al that momentarily relieved the ache I felt in losing him," says Marcia.

And then there's what not to say.

"Even though they meant well, some people said absolutely the wrong things. For example, 'Oh you should be happy you had the love of your life.' Yes, I did. But sorry, that didn't ease my pain at all," Marcia recalls. "A couple of others said, 'I know how you feel.' No, you don't!"

Grief is very personal. It's a deep yearning for what you can never have again. Yet at some point, we will all go through the experience of losing someone. And the people who care about you will want to offer their condolences

So, when the next moment comes to comfort someone over the loss of a loved one, think about what they're feeling and just be heartfelt.

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