Ways to express sympathy during COVID-19

Posted on April 4, 2020 by Mary Burdo under Grief
Leave a comment

We find ourselves in such unsettling times when we cannot be with those we love. It is even more challenging when we are wanting to be physically present to support someone who has lost a loved one and who so desperately needs our love and support.

Yes, physical presence is the most powerful but how can we provide that same presence and support in other ways?

Check out the Cook tribute page:  It can be viewed by family members who are grieving the loss of their loved one.   You can leave a note, light a candle or even upload a photo of a favorite memory shared with the one who passed.   One of the most powerful interchanges at visitations is when someone shares with the family what their loved meant to them and a favorite memory shared.   Photos are a great way to do this.

Phone calls: Voice to voice is the next best thing. Often people are afraid to call because they do not want to be a bother, or they might not know what to say. Your phone call can and will mean a great deal.

Some things to consider: Fewer words are best. Expressing your deepest sympathy by saying I am so sorry. I am here for you. Do not be afraid of silence. We often feel like we have to fill that space with talking, and many times just waiting for their response is the best thing you can do.

Action: What can you do to help? Often, people will say, please call me if there is anything you need.   Grieving people will not reach out and say this is what I need. Instead try: “What can I do to help you today?”

Offer something that you can and are willing to do: Bring a meal, offer to do errands, if financial support is needed, send a check (any amount big or small shows you care and will make a difference).

Send flowers: Sending flowers at the time of death is very customary. But what about the days, months, and years after. Send flowers on the ordinary days, holidays, and anniversaries. Attach a note: “Remembering with you” (include the loved one’s name). Also, how about a gift that you would find comforting. I love to deliver Vera Bradley blankets to those who are suffering, either because of grief, loneliness, or sickness. Coffee mugs, with your favorite coffee or gift to a great coffee store.

A handwritten note or card: The handwritten note is powerful! Simple thoughts that you are thinking of them and remembering them might be just the encouragement they needed that day.

Prayer: Prayer is also powerful and effective! Sending a note or a message that you are praying. Or better yet, ask them specifically, “how I can pray for you today?”

Attend a Memorial service when the stay at home order is lifted.  Many families are planning to hold services at a later date.   Your physical presence will be needed and appreciated then as well!

Hoping this helps as you walk along someone who desperately needs your love and support in these challenging times. I am only a phone call away should you desire further assistance.


By Melissa Mitchell

Advance Funeral Planning Specialist . 616.588.5154



Mary Burdo

Our family has a heritage spanning three generations of helping families navigate their way through grief. We are a full-service funeral and cremation service emphasizing the value of the path toward healing for the living.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *