This year looks like it will be a year where I will have to say farewell to a few good friends and family members.
So what do you do, and what do you say… and what do you write in a time of loss? Especially to those left behind.
In the book The Art of Condolence: What to write, what to say, what do do at a time of loss. By Leonard M. Zunin, MD, & Hilary Stanton Zunin… they list a few tips.
Here are the key components for writing a letter.
- Acknowledge the loss, say how you heard the news
- Express your sympathy. Do not hesitate to use the word ‘death’ or note the actual cause of death.
- Note special qualities about the deceased. They may be personal characteristics for example, courage, leadership, or decisiveness.
- Recount a memory about the deceased. Early in bereavement, memories of the deceased are often temporarily dimmed. This can be frightening for those in grief. Relate a brief anecdote or two.
- Note special qualities of the bereaved. The bereaved will typically experience a transitory impairment in their usual capacity for self-appreciation. It can be helpful to recall a loving remark about the survivor that was once made by the deceased.
- Offer assistance. Make a specific offer (doing the grocery shopping, running errands etc…)
- Close with a thoughtful word or phrase.