Condolences – an expression of sorrow and sympathy, usually to somebody who is grieving over a death.
I’ve written about this topic before. But what do you say to the grieving?
I thought I had the perfect answer because it was the answer I preferred. “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Short and simple. Until I read some stranger complaining about that term. Huh.
For me, I didn’t want empty platitudes. For some reason, “It gets better” really bothered me and even now, years later, I wonder what gets better? So, I stay away from platitudes.
I also didn’t want to be preached to. “Your mom is in a better place.” Yeah, I know she is. But I want to be selfish. I want her here with me. “You will get to see her again someday.” Yeah, I hope for that, too, but I want to see her today.
Please don’t be offended if I tell you, “I am sorry for your loss,” because I am sorry. Sorry as if sympathetic not regret. Don’t forget there is more than one meaning to a word. And I may say something like, “While I have experienced loss I have not experienced your loss so I will not offer empty platitudes or lectures on faith. Today I will weep with you as you weep. I will mourn with you.” Then I will add a little testimony of hope – which is different than a lecture of faith – “Until that future day when we will all rejoice together at our reunions.” Finally I will end with my commitment to action, “You are in my thoughts and prayers.” And I will mean it; you will be mentioned by name in my prayers for awhile.
In the end, sometimes there are no right words only right actions. It’s more important that we are there for each other and forgive each other if we awkwardly fumble with our verbal expressions. You showing up on my doorstep will mean more to me than the words you speak. So maybe, our condolences are more about actions than words.
Any thoughts on this matter?