WORTH READING: Thoughts on expressing condolences by Nancy Bern

People often worry that they will not know the right words to say when facing someone grieving. The truth is, there are no “right words.” Nothing can take away the pain, but that is okay. We do not need to take away people’s pain in order to help. Acknowledging a person’s loss or struggle can be supportive. Walk beside someone who is struggling and give the person time to grieve. Our calm and quiet presence can provide some stability. I agree with Kristin that offering specific things you can do is good. I disagree that saying “I’m sorry for your loss” is always bad. It depends on the context. But saying “I’m sorry” or “I don’t know what to say” can be helpful in that those words express our understanding that there is a loss even if we do not understand the depth of it. Do not be afraid of people’s tears. Crying can be a helpful release and grieving is a normal part of our lives. And when we walk beside each other during hard times, we learn how to carry joy and grief together. (I write occasional columns on related topics. If interested, check out my blog at http://www.nancyberns.com. Nancy Berns)

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