When a relative, friend or coworker is grieving, many of us do not know how to offer consolation. We don’t know what to say or how to act. So, we send a card and flowers but prefer to stay away. We hesitate to call, and we don’t visit. We fear saying something inappropriate or being tongue-tied and saying nothing. Consequently, the grieving ones are often treated as outcasts at a time when they need our emotional support the most.

Words spoken from the heart carry a lot of weight. These words prove to be extremely powerful. We were not present when Dr. King spoke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, but we do know his powerful ‘I have a dream’ speech, which was a defining moment for the civil rights movement. Kennedy’s words, “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a citizen of Berlin) were met by a thunderous applause as they communicated solidarity and support. If you speak from the heart, your words can help mend a broken heart and bring solace to someone in the midst of grieving.

Most people like to talk about their deceased loved ones. Just because your friend has lost her spouse, he has not ceased to exist for her. Use your discretion and mention him in your conversations. Ask questions about him. It can be very healing for her. But if you are absolutely stuck for words, a simple touch on the arm or a loving hug goes a long way to communicate your genuine concern and affection.


Didi Ji