Expressions of sympathy: meaningful ways to help immediately after a loss

Expressions of Sympathy

We all want to be there for our friends, family and colleagues when they need us, but finding appropriate and heartfelt ways to show our support immediately after a loss can be difficult. During those first painful days, reach out and let people know you are thinking of them. A caring gesture may take just a few moments for you—but for the receiver, it’s a living act of love at a time when their world seems to be falling apart.

Here are some simple, meaningful ways to offer support and make a real difference in the days immediately following their loss.

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Get in touch  

Send a sympathy card or a beautiful blank card with a short heartfelt note, including a treasured memory of their loved one if appropriate. If you’re close to the person, call and ask if you can be of help. Give a beautiful visual representation of your caring by sending flowers, a plant, or a small gift.

Seek out advice from friends and family  

If you’re not sure how to help, begin by asking friends, family or clergy. Talk to someone who’s close enough to the family to know what kinds of support and help are most useful.

Make phone calls and run errands  

Volunteer to be in the house to provide help and comfort for any need that arises. Create a phone tree to make sure all family and friends know of the death and the funeral arrangements. Volunteer to drive out-of-town relatives. Organize babysitting services. Designate one friend to coordinate volunteer meals for the family. Or simply sit…be there for the one who needs a shoulder to cry on…and a friend to lean on.