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The Various Methods of Condolences

December 27, 2013

The most important condolence you can offer a grieving family is your presence during the services. But there are plenty of additional ways to express your sympathy.

People are often uncertain of what is expected or appropriate in terms of condolences. First, let’s make sure we’re on the same page with what forms condolences can be in: a phone call, sympathy card, personal letter, flowers, or online message. You can choose whichever seems right for the relationship and the particular family. Regardless of how you do it, the family always appreciates heartfelt sympathy.

  • Your Presence is the most important form of condolence. Being there for a grieving family means so much to them, and helps in unmeasurable ways. If possible, you should attend the services, which will help the family to feel supported and loved during their difficult time.
  • Flowers are a very appropriate way of expressing sympathy to the family of the deceased. They express a feeling of life and beauty and offer comfort to the family. A floral tribute can either be sent to the funeral home or the residence. If sent to the residence, usually a planter or a small vase of flowers indicating a person’s continued sympathy for the family is suggested. The florist places an identification card on the floral tribute. At the funeral home, the cards are removed from the floral tributes and given to the family so they may acknowledge the tributes sent. We suggest sending flowers from Clifford’s.
  • Mass cards can be sent either by Catholic or non-Catholic friends. The offering of prayers is a valued expression of sympathy to a Catholic family. A card indicating that a Mass for the deceased has been arranged may be obtained from a Catholic parish. The Mass offering card or envelope is given to the family as an indication of understanding, faith, and compassion. Make sure that your name and address is legible. This will make it easier for the family to acknowledge your gift.
  • Memorial donations are a contribution made in a person’s memory to a specific cause or charity. The family will often designate a charity that is meaningful to them. When making a contribution, make sure that the charity will notify the family with you name and address. If they don’t, then send a card to the family notifying them of your contribution.
  • Sympathy cards are an appreciated gesture, even if you are only an acquaintance. The card should be in good taste and in keeping with your relationship to the family of the deceased. An expression such as “I’m sorry to learn of your personal loss” is usually welcomed.
  • Personal notes of sympathy are very meaningful. Express yourself openly and sincerely.
  • Telephone calls give you an opportunity to offer your support and let them know you really care. If they wish to discuss their loss, don’t hesitate to talk with them about the deceased. Be a good listener!


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