When a friend or family member suffers a loss, knowing what words of comfort to express is challenging.  Many individuals seek guidance on what to say, how to choose words, and finding personal words to express condolences.  Offering words of comfort can be helpful for consoling the bereaved.  It is very common to use inspirational or compassionate quotes from others when expressing condolences.

Where to Find Words of Comfort

  1. Prepared Messages of Sympathy. For some friends, acquaintances and co-workers the words need to express both dignity and comfort. Sympathy quotes, sympathy cards and condolence letters are very appropriate expressions. Most of these message are able to blend respect with caring words without being overly emotional.
  2. Meaningful Music. For many, the words and music of songs provides peace and encouragement. Traditional hymns or songs of praise can supply a soothing balm to the troubled soul. Several popular songs by favorite artists can be especially meaningful during times of grief.
  3. Inspirational Books or Devotions. Bookstores and libraries are filled with books that can provide encouragement and comfort during difficult times. A thoughtful book by the friend’s favorite author can be personal and meaningful. Devotional books can provide short, thoughtful words of comfort for each day.
  4. Religious Quotations or Verses. Passages that find their substance in the teachings of a religion are of particular comfort during times of sorrow. Often the words can provide hope and healing regardless of the religion. The twenty-third Psalm was provided care and hope for many grieving families since the time of David in the Old Testament. Solomon, the author of many of the Proverbs, offered tidbits of sage advice about life and death. Others find comfort from the pen of Gandhi, Mother Teresa or Confucious.
  5. Poetry. The masterful poet is able to use the structure and qualities of language to convey strong emotions through the use of words. The many different emotions that people face during times of grief provide many avenues that the writer can explore. The grieving individual will find strength and comfort knowing that someone else has gone through similar feelings. Reading the words of another often help crystalize one’s own feelings and thoughts.

When to Share Words of Comfort

Share something as soon as you receive the news of the death. A sympathy card or a condolence letter makes an immediate statement that the person is cared about and is in your thoughts. A professional card along with a caring, hand-written phrase can be a comforting oasis in the desert of grief.

Follow up with a contact a couple of weeks after the funeral. For many, the days after the funeral are the most difficult times of grief. They are no longer surrounded by friends and family. There is no busy schedule to keep their minds occupied. A collection of music or an inspirational book accompanied by a note or a card lets the person know that they are not forgotten.

Reinforce your concern on a special anniversary of the deceased. Birthdays, holidays and the anniversary of the death become difficult times for the surviving family and often trigger episodes of intense grief. Some religious leaders mark their calendars for a year after the death of a funeral they performed so they can follow up with a card. Such thoughtfulness is appreciated during those difficult times.