What to Say When There is a Loss


Whenever someone we love passes away, the right words to express sympathy for that loss can feel lost, too. The end of each life is different, but the grief associated with losing a loved one is often similarly experienced by most people.

In the wake of a tragedy, the pressure to say the right thing and the fear of saying the wrong thing can render you speechless. It can be difficult to know where to begin when sending messages of condolences with sympathy and funeral flowers. Getting started can be the hardest part. How do you express what is in your heart in times of heartbreak and grief?

Once the first few words are written, it is often easier to find your way. You will know what you want to say and how to say it in your own words. Instead of dreading this task, try to see it as a way to communicate your understanding and empathy to the family and a way to say a last goodbye to the deceased.

Goodbye to the Deceased

When sending flowers to be included in the funeral, the flowers should be addressed to the deceased. The corresponding card should likewise be addressed to the deceased. The message accompanying the funeral flowers is a chance to say goodbye and can help you process your grief. If the deceased was religious, you can also add religious sentiments to your message.

A few brief sentences on the card addressed to the deceased will suffice. Some nice sentiments include: Gone but not forgotten; In loving memory; Until we meet again; You will be missed; With love and fond memories; Always in my heart; Dearly loved and sadly missed.

These seemingly obvious sentences can easily be a foundation from which you can build a more personal message. It can be helpful to think of the individual and consider what first comes to mind. What made him or her unique? What is the best memory you have of time spent with the deceased?

There are several options for funeral flowers. Standing sprays are large. They are typically between one and three feet high and displayed on an easel near the casket. Floral baskets are another option. They are usually displayed on tables or on the floor near the casket. Casket sprays and inside pieces are most often chosen by the immediate family.

Many religions and cultures view flowers as an intrinsic part of a funeral and a tribute for the deceased, but some don’t. When in doubt, ask.

Most florists need at least 24 hours to create and deliver the arrangements but ordering sooner will allow the florist to spend more time on the design.

Sympathy for the Family

Expressing condolences can feel intimidating, but there are many ways to express your sympathy to the family. Sympathy arrangements can be sent to the home of the immediate family a few days or even a month after your friend, acquaintance or loved one has passed.

For sympathy messages sent to the home, the message is addressed and written to the family of the deceased. If you are in doubt about what to write, it is fine to keep the message a brief expression of sympathy for the loss. Remember that this is simply a way to let the family know that you care.

Some examples of sympathy messages to the family are: Thinking of you and your family during this time of loss; Wishing you peace and comfort; Here for you and your family during this time of grief; May these flowers, in some small way, express the sympathy we feel for you; May these flowers bring some comfort during this difficult time; I can’t begin to imagine your loss. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do for you.

It is important to remember that the flowers and corresponding message you send can provide some comfort to those who are mourning. If you would like your message to be personal and thoughtful, recount fond memories of the deceased that the family would appreciate.

Avoid writing messages about yourself or your own losses. This is not an appropriate time to make comparisons. It would not help the situation.

You should also refrain from making statements alluding to things happening for a reason, things happening for the best, the deceased being in a better place or it all being part of God’s plan. Ideas like that can be seen as condescending or even hurtful during a time of loss.

Another thing to keep in mind is you should avoid sharing a memory that may have negativity associated with it. This message is for the family and should reflect a memory or idea that would help ease their suffering.

Personalizing a message doesn’t have to include a specific memory, either. We often recall the habits and quirks of the people we love just as vividly as memories, so a peculiar habit, hobby or anything funny pertaining to the deceased could be added to your message.

Religious sentiments should only be expressed if they would comfort the family. For people who are religious, a message stating that they are in your prayers or that God is watching over them and their loved one can be a great comfort.

Sending flowers is a great start but being there for someone during a time of loss is the best gift you can give. A person may have difficulty returning to regular routines if the loss is suffered intensely. Offering to help with chores around the house, bringing cooked meals and assisting with caring for children or pets can help the grieving have a little extra time to recover and get back to their normal routines.

It is important to be sympathetic when someone has experienced a loss. Give him or her the same respect and attention you would want in that situation. As a death so adequately conveys, life is precious and can be fleeting. We never know what might happen or when we may need someone else’s love and support.

If you need help deciding how to convey sympathy, what flowers or arrangements are appropriate or even what to say, our florists at Red Rose Florist & Gifts in Salinas, CA, are here for you.

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