By in Personal

I'm Sorry for Your Loss

Somebody dies who is about the closest person in your friend's life, ever. You read about it and want to make your friend feel better in a tough time! So you utter the infamous words...

"I'm sorry for your loss."

But perhaps you want to be different and really emphasize how sorry you are for your friend. So you say...

"I'm so sorry for your loss."

Really? Is that the best we can come up with? If so, maybe we need to put ourselves into the shoes of the other person. How would you feel is your mom or your sister died? How about if your husband or your wife died?

Maybe you'd appreciate something more from your close friends, no?

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MegL wrote on June 3, 2022, 3:39 AM

VinceSummers "Sorry for your loss" is a very common term over here now. I first heard it about 40 years ago, when my father in law died and the doctor came to certify him as dead. She came down the stairs, popped her head round the door of the room we were all sitting in, said perfunctorily "Sorry for your loss" and left the death certificate on the hall table as she went out. I know doctors are busy and have living patients to attend to but that was very cold. On the other hand, just what do you say? It used to be that people would say, "I am sorry to hear that your (whoever) has passed on" and then that got complained about as being about the speaker because it was said the phrase "I am sorry to hear" meant that the speaker was upset at being told that, rather than that they were sorry for the bereaved person. "Commiserations" is another very short term that I usually see written down, rather than spoken. So what could or should you say? It is a very difficult thing to do. I think many people are worried the bereaved person will break down in tears if reminded of their loss, so they avoid the subject altogether, talking about unrelated subjects. This is hard for the bereaved person as they never get to talk about their lost person, even if it does bring on the tears. A former colleague lost her husband only a short while ago. He was only 57. I wrote to her and just said, "I wish I could just sit with you and share your pain." At Christmas, instead of a Christmas card, I sent a friend card of two people sitting together in silence and asked her to phone me if she wanted and I would listen. For some people, a hug is what is most needed, rather than words. I suppose whatever you say, the bereaved person needs to know you mean it and that is most often heard in the tone of the voice.

Last Edited: June 4, 2022, 4:47 AM

VinceSummers wrote on June 3, 2022, 9:11 AM

I really like your response MegL . It was pretty spot-on. Yes, II am sorry to hear... And there is another: I hope you get well. No, don't say that! Say: I hope you get well SOON. You don't want to hint that they might not get well and die!

lookatdesktop wrote on June 6, 2022, 3:54 PM

True. It is very common. I actually am a member of a small prayer group. When I learn of another person's loss, I add their name to my list and pray for them during Rosary. You hit the nail on the head by this post. I read posts on Facebook about people going through terrible health crises, and I read it in full detail. Then I take time to reflect on it before responding. It takes time to be empathetic and a lot of people simply do it the easy way and that makes things seem so untrue it makes the person who is grieving a loss of some kind seem to be of no real consideration by the one pretending to feel some form of empathy towards them.

lookatdesktop wrote on June 6, 2022, 3:59 PM

The people in the nursing home where my sick and dying brother lives, are about as cold as can be but still I occassionally get a phone call from one of the nurses or an email from the Pastor who looks over him from time to time and I find it more meaningful when I can take time to respond to them I am unable to visit my brother now because my wife is very ill and could quite possibly die within under a year or so. So due to her illness I only go to mass for half an hour and a 20 minute prayer with others who say the 5 decades of the Holy Rosary. Besides this, I remain with her almost 24/7 and will do so to the very end. Meanwhile I get updates on many people on social media and I try to reply to them as often as possible.

lookatdesktop wrote on June 6, 2022, 4:01 PM

My wife may never get well from hier ocndition. I cry sometimes just thinking about how terrible it will be when she passes. I have been praying at the mass and Rosary almost every single day. It helps. I have found comfort in reading my Bible every day too. It all helps me deal with things in general.

MegL wrote on June 6, 2022, 6:12 PM

lookatdesktop That is an awful shame that the people in the nursing home are cold, it's so unfair on the people staying there. You would think that people who choose to work in that environment would have compassion for the sick and dying people under their care. I know some people would say that they have to grow a thick skin because of the losses of people they could grow close to, yet you can still show compassion.

That's very hard that your wife is also sick now, I take it that has happened recently as I thought you and she went shopping together? This must be very difficult. You want to be with both but it's not possible. Is there anyone who can stay with your wife to give you an occasional break?

MegL wrote on June 6, 2022, 6:14 PM

Yes, very true. Real empathy is rare. Some people have it from childhood, others develop it through experiencing life and some just never seem to develop it, no matter how many difficult circumstances they are involved in.

lookatdesktop wrote on June 7, 2022, 11:49 AM

No one.

MegL wrote on June 8, 2022, 5:05 AM

That's very hard. Thinking of you.

AliCanary wrote on June 12, 2022, 3:57 PM

I think "I am sorry for your loss" came from the dissatisfaction with the phrase that used to be common, "I'm sorry to hear..." because it seemed like the person was almost being blamed for the bad news or making the speaker feel bad, and the newer phrase focuses on the listener and acknowledges their loss. However, since it is very commonly used, I don't like to say that by itself but try to add some other words of comfort. If I am the person who has lost a loved one, I don't find it offensive in the least, but I can say one of the most precious things is to share a memory of the lost loved one that the person might not know about. At my mom's memorial service, a childhood friend of hers told me a funny memory, and it was so sweet - I felt like a brand-new piece of my mom had been given to me!

VinceSummers wrote on June 12, 2022, 9:27 PM

Indeed. I have often squirmed inside when someone says, I'm sorry to hear someone (is sick, has died, lost their job, etc.). The English language boasts a larger vocabulary, I have heard, than any other language. We should take advantage of that fact. We can do that by thinking in advance of speaking.