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Here are some tips on what to say when words can be difficult to find:

Introduce Yourself

Even if you know the family well, a quick reminder of your relationship will be helpful and save the possible embarrassment of forgetting names.

"I'm Jane Thomas. Pat and I worked together at the phone company."

Express Your Sympathy

Some basic yet comforting expressions include:

  • "Please accept my sympathy."
  • "Know that you have been in my thoughts and prayers."
  • "Please accept my sincere condolences."
  • "My heart is filled with sympathy."

Ask Questions and Listen

A good listener can put people at ease during times of grief.

  • "What happened?"
  • "Tell me a good story about..."
  • "When did you last see...?"

Focus on the Positive

The days following a death are the time for positive memories and not the time to mention disagreements between you and the deceased. Some conversation starters include:

"I remember when he..." "One of my fondest memories..."

While clichés and advice may be well intended, they can add to feelings of grief. Some phrases to AVOID:

  • "I know how you feel."
  • "It was bound to happen."
  • "She's better off now."
  • "Time heals all wounds."
  • "You have to keep busy."
  • "Things will be back to normal in a month or so."
  • "Now you can get on with your life."
  • "It's all for the best."
  • "You'll get over it."

When you don't know what to say, a sincere "I'm so sorry for your loss" is a good alternative to giving advice or using clichés.

Stay in Touch

It is very important to stay in touch after the funeral as milestones like birthdays and holidays are often difficult for those experiencing a loss.

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