Sympathy words, comforting and personalized, make your expressions of support to the bereaved meaningful and supportive. In a situation of bereavement, it is important to have more to say than worn out clichés.

Now you can choose from a variety of sympathy quotes, phrases and other ideas to convey your message of condolence. Sympathy words are critical to an overall comforting presence in the grief experience.

You can incorporate bereavement verses in your expressions, whether you use them in personal communication, sympathy cards, to accompany a sympathy gift or as a note accompanying a sympathy flower arrangement.

The shock and pain of loss after a significant death, divorce or estrangement in a relationship makes a person extremely vulnerable to the words and actions of others.

This makes your role as a supporter especially important. It is worth your time to collect a variety of comforting words of condolence and get familiar with using them. That will assure that your expression of sympathy will be filled with acceptance, acknowledgement and encouragement.

Many people, while they are well meaning, will make comments that are brief, general and get them out of the situation as quickly as possible. Often the reason for this is that being present with someone who is in pain and vulnerable is uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable because we are powerless to relieve the griever’s pain.

None of us enjoys pain, and if a person we love is in pain, it is normal to experience some of that distress if we have any sense of empathy at all. That is not a place any of us want to stay for long, so consequently we try to move along as quickly as possible.

If we don’t have appropriate words of comfort for sympathy, we awkwardly try to make light of the situation or change the subject. In doing this, our comments can be dismissive at best and extremely thoughtless and hurtful at worst.

None of us want to be remembered as someone who was careless, unsupportive or hurtful to a friend in a time of vulnerability. That is why it is so important to educate ourselves in advance.

Hopefully those of us who have experienced the pain of grief will have learned how to be creatively supportive and will have a vocabulary of appropriate sympathy words to use.

However there are no guarantees. Evidence of this is one of the comments reported by a client recently. A dear friend who had recent deaths in her own family, and had been supported by my client during these experiences, made such a comment.

My client had expected this friend to provide the support that she had given to her. The comment that was made, in the first few weeks after the death of my client’s sister, was “We are all getting older, and these things happen”.

This hit my client like a hammer, I am sure her friend did not mean to be cruel, but the client felt betrayed and hurt. You can be sure that this doesn’t happen to you.

Please prepare yourself by learning sympathy etiquette and using it when the situation calls for comfort, compassion and loving support.

Author's Bio: 

Karen Grisham is the editor of with a professional practice in Mental Health Nursing for 15 years. These sympathy words reflect sensitivity to the needs of grievers.