The loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult times in our lives. Hopefully, we can turn to our families and friends during this time for support and sympathy.
Some of the most comforting words you can offer at a time of loss are, “I’m sorry for your loss” or “my sympathies to you and your family.” Many people find this is the easiest thing to say to someone who is dealing with the loss of a loved one. Even if you don’t know the person very well, if you want to offer your sympathy, don’t be afraid to do so. A few words can mean a lot. Simply put, you are offering your sympathy while acknowledging the grief that they are feeling.
“Is there anything you need?” is a sentiment that is greatly appreciated by most people. While an individual may not need anything from you, it truly is the thought that counts. Be prepared, however, because they may actually need your help, so don’t say this without a sincere intention to act upon a request.
Saying, “What can I do?” is very similar to the question above, but it conveys your willingness to offer support in any capacity. Many people find that just knowing someone is available will offer great support and comfort.
The best but possibly the hardest thing to do is make a home visit. When you visit someone it really shows that you are about them. The more visits you make, the easier this will become. Offering to bring a pot of soup or some food that is easily digested may be the means of opening the door to a new friendship and relationship with someone who has experienced a death in the family.
“If you need to talk, call me” is an open door invitation to allow someone to share their feeling. It is important for them to know you are available when the time comes.
There are words to avoid when speaking to bereaved families. Some words not to say are: “I know how you are feeling”, or “your loved one is in a better place”. People may not want to hear this. If the grieving family uses these words you may agree- but the statements need to come from them first. The grieving may encounter many feelings, but remember no grief is right or wrong. People deal with a loss in the only way they can, and you truly do not know what they are feeling.
The ministry of presence is the greatest gift we can offer to others. Just to be there in silence. You often will not need to say much. It is your presence that is appreciated. Days, weeks or months after the funeral, grieving people will not remember what someone said, but they will remember that you were there for them.
“Often a hug is worth a thousand words.”
Margaret Anne Yost nursed for 35 years, working mostly on medical floors. She has journeyed with many clients who were dying, and she tried to comfort their families during this difficult time. She has completed two units of Clinical Pastoral Education.
Returning back to school she completed classes from the Red River College in the areas of Gerontology, Bereavement, Death and Dying. She was enrolled eight years in lay ministry training. At present, she enjoys her role at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Yorkton in the area of parish work. For the past ten years she has also been employed at Bailey’s Funeral Home working in the area of Continuing Care.
Comments and articles may be forwarded by mail to: Margaret Anne Yost, P.0. Box 554 Melville, Sask. S0A 2P0
Or phone 1-306-621-9877 (9 am-5 pm) or at home 1-306-728-4744 (evenings).