How to Express Your Sympathy From Far Away
When someone you care about loses someone they love, it can be shocking and devastating. Your first instinct would likely be to reach out and hug them or hold their hand, to offer to make them dinner or watch the kids.
These are all great. But what happens when you're not close enough to do any of those things?
It can be incredibly difficult when you're far away from someone you love when they're experiencing a loss. The guilt and frustration you feel over not being able to be there is real. You want to let them know that you care, but you can't even hug them.
Unfortunately, more people are now experiencing this than ever with the restrictions and social distancing measures put in place due to COVID-19. Individuals who lost someone due to the virus may not be able to physically see or receive support from anyone until it's confirmed that it's safe for all involved.
Loss is never easy, and it's harder when you're far away, but there are ways you can express sympathy to someone who is grieving even when you can't be there in person. Let's take a look at each one.
Pick Up the Phone
Picking up the phone and offering to talk can be one of the best ways to express your sympathy from far away, but keep in mind that people might not be willing to talk immediately following a loss.
The day after someone has experienced a loss, you may want to reach out via text and see when there will be a good time to talk, if any. There are often urgent things that need to happen during the first day, including calling funeral homes, arranging cremation, and more. They also might just be too in shock or deep in grief to want to talk yet.
If they are receptive to talking now or later, offer to sit on the phone and talk about whatever they need. Let them know that you're always around (or specifically when you're around) if they'd like company.
Send Practical Gifts That Save Them Labor
It's not fun, not being able to bring over dinner or to be help watch the kids, but that doesn't mean that you can't send gifts that make their lives a little easier.
Think about a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or to a food delivery company like UberEats. The latter ensures that they can get a hot dinner on short notice without having to leave the house, and that they can order whatever the kids will eat for dinner.
If you think they'd be interested in it, you can also offer to gift a service from a cleaning company to help them stay on top of things without keeping the house spotless. This may be particularly appreciated before an in-home memorial.
Even taking time to send their favorite food through a service like Goldbelly can go a long way, providing delicious comfort when it's needed most.
Choose a Thoughtful, Symbolic Gift
If you're close with the individual, you may be able to come up with a symbolic gift that they'll treasure. This is a great item to send because it honors the person who was lost in a beautiful, symbolic way.
If, for example, you know that your friend losing her mother was impossibly hard. You also know that a rose was her mother's favorite flower and your friend's favorite flower You can send a beautiful rose pendant so she can keep the garnet close to her heart.
Another example is reaching out to a friend who lost her first pregnancy to a miscarriage before Mother's Day. If you can send an appropriate gift, even something simple but beautiful like a weighted heart-shaped pillow, it can acknowledge their loss and help them to not feel so isolated.
Reach Out Even After the “Crisis Period”
After a memorial or an immediate loss (sometimes even days for a miscarriage or loss of a pet), people move on with their own lives, leaving the grieving family member behind. They think that they've checked in, they've expressed their condolences, and that they're free and clear.
Someone grieving any kind of loss, however, doesn't simply move on immediately after the fact. Even once they're out of the initial crisis period, they may still need to talk over what happened or could benefit from the company.
Even if you're far, that doesn't mean you should stop checking in. See how they're doing, and if they want to set up a Facetime date or even to watch a movie together online. Support matters most, even if you're not physically there.
When someone you love loses someone they love and you can't be there to comfort them in person, the good news is that there are other options for how to express your sympathy from far away.
You know your friend best, so think about what would be most helpful to them and what they'd appreciate most. And remember, you can always ask them if you're unsure, offering to spend time on the phone and sending a gift card or symbolic present. Grief can be overwhelming, so more support can be appreciated.
Looking for a symbolic gift that acknowledges your loved one's loss in a meaningful way? You can see if any of our sympathy gifts are a good fit for you.