What Is Appropriate Sympathy Etiquette?


Quick Answer

Appropriate sympathy etiquette involves giving a grieving person an honest, heartfelt message in regard to his loss. This message can be delivered in person, in writing, over the phone, or through email or social media.

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Full Answer

It can be hard to know what to say to someone who is grieving. The most important thing is for the speaker to express how he feels. For example, someone trying to offer sympathy could say, "I was sad to hear of your loved one's passing." If the speaker believes a religious sentiment would be appreciated by the bereaved, he can offer those thoughts as well.

If someone is comforting a friend who has lost a loved one, he should send a sympathy note to the friend. A written note is the most appropriate option, but email or social media are fine if the bereaved uses them on a regular basis.

If someone is close to the person who died but doesn't know his family well, he can send a sympathy card to his friend's next of kin. This is usually the widow, the oldest child or the parents of the deceased.

When someone is grieving, it is important to give him the space he needs to process the loss while also offering sympathy and concern. It is not polite to push someone to be happy when he is grieving. However, if a grieving person becomes depressed or suicidal, it is critical to get him help.

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