General Question

smile1's avatar

What are you supposed to say when a relative you dont really know dies?

Asked by smile1 (488 points ) August 28th, 2009

I have always been leary on say “sorry” because its not really your fault that the person dies. Nor does my condolesences work…it just sounds weird i guess.

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15 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

I go with a hug. It is like a picture. A hug can mean as much as a thousand words.

Jeruba's avatar

“I’m sorry” means two very different things:

— I apologize.
— I am sad.

You’re not apologizing and saying it’s your fault when you say “I’m sorry” for a death. You are saying that you are sad to hear it, you regret it or grieve for it (even if it is really not a big loss to you, you can be sad for the person who is sad). “I’m sorry” is the most appropriate thing in the world to express condolences for someone else’s loss.

Dog's avatar

Like @Jeruba says- it is about supporting those who did know the relative and are mourning the loss.

MagsRags's avatar

@jeruba said it well. If you feel the ned to clarify, perhaps “I’m sorry to hear that” or “I’m sorry for your loss”

smile1's avatar

what if I’m not physically there for the person to say it when i near them? would i still say the same thing? would it still have the same effect?

Jeruba's avatar

Of course. You say in a phone call or an e-mail message, “I’m so sorry to hear of Great-Aunt May’s death.” You buy a sympathy card and write on it, “I’m so sorry you’ve lost your dad.” If you attend the funeral, it’s enough to squeeze the hand of the grieving relative or give a hug and whisper, “I’m sorry,” and what this means is “I feel for you. I sympathize with your sorrow.”

The response you receive will probably be “Thank you.” You don’t have to say any more. You don’t have to answer that.

filmfann's avatar

@smile1 welcome to fluther. Lurve.
A card with “We are sorry for your loss” says it nicely.

smile1's avatar

@filmfann thanks

alright. :) thanks all

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

You don’t have to have known the deceased in order to offer your acknowledgment of loss to the living and to do it politely.

Blondesjon's avatar

huh. . .

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Jeruba has the answer. In fact, she may have all the answers. Quick, someone hold her still while I steal her answers! =)

skfinkel's avatar

Your saying “My deepest condolences” or some such thing says that you care about those who knew and loved him and what they are going through. The fact that you are showing up, are there to give your respects, is very important to them. The actual words you say are not so important.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

“I’m sorry Great Aunt May died. I didn’t have a chance to know her very well. I remember my grandmother talked about her a lot. [Insert family story here.]”

Condolences for deaths are best conveyed in writing, or in person if you’re going to the funeral. Sending a written note when it’s someone you don’t know very well or at all is a nice thing to do, because the offer of consolation is for the living. A friend who lost her husband two years ago told me that when she gets the blues, she rereads the condolence notes, and it helps.

smile1's avatar

wow. great answers you guys thanks so much!!! really helps!

Darwin's avatar

“I am sorry for your loss.” plus anything you can add to personalize things.

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