Condolence Etiquette for Modern Times

To some extent, we are all likely guilty of laziness when it comes to mailing hand written notes or even making a personal phone call in an age when we can convey our thoughts quickly and efficiently through text or email.  But when it comes to offering a condolence for the loss of a loved-one, these methods just aren’t sufficient, they are too impersonal and casual.  And for older adults who may have lost a spouse, sibling or lifelong friend, maintaining traditions can provide reassurance and comfort.

Whether it’s a sudden loss or an anticipated end to a long life, texts, email, voice mails and posts on social media are not equivalent to a personal visit, phone call, card or letter.  We often don’t really know what to say to family or close friends after the death of a loved-one but fear of saying the wrong thing needn’t be a stumbling block.

Most often people just want to know that others care and will not disappear from their lives.  Perhaps the best things you can do is listen, say you are sorry for their loss and ask what you can do to help.  Without being too pushy, check in and offer support in the days and weeks following the funeral or memorial.

By bringing a meal to the family, offering to do house or garden work or simply sharing a special memory, those closest to the deceased will know they are not alone.  In the end we all want to be remembered, and sometimes it’s the smallest things that can ease the weight of a loss.  A personal card, a photo or other small remembrance can be a light in an otherwise dark time.

With that said, friends and family may still want to post a note or remembrance on a memorial website or social media page.  After the initial whirlwind following the death of someone near to you, these can be a source of comfort, hope and happy memories.  However, don’t let that be your only method of communication if you are close to the family or friend who has lost a loved-one.

To learn more about writing sympathy notes and letters, visit the Emily Post Institute at .

When you don't know what to say but fear saying the wrong thing Click To Tweet