Appropriate Ways to Show Sympathy and Offer Condolences

In Large Part, Appropriateness Relies on Circumstances
The best sympathetic move might be some massive romantic gesture—but only in the right context. If you make a gesture like that to a coworker you’ve talked to once or twice, sure, you’ll get their mind off their problems; but only because you represent a new region of danger in their mind.

The level of condolences you show will depend on the situation and your relationship with the person who is living through the tragedy. Following we’ll look at three gift options to help get you thinking along the right lines.

  1. Spend Time With Someone, Let Them “Vent”

If you don’t know someone well enough to give them anything, what you might want to do is just spend time with the person who is bereaved. Sometimes they’ve lost a loved one, sometimes they’ve lost a job, and maybe they’ve lost a house or a vehicle. Whatever the case, one thing anyone who is in such a spot needs is a listening ear.

Of course, sometimes they just want to be by themselves, so respect that when necessary. You need to have discretion here. Watch the social cues they give you. Do they answer your questions with long responses or monosyllabic ones? Do they meet your eyes, or look away? Follow the signs.

  1. Flowers Fit Almost Any Occasion

    If you don’t know whether to spend time with someone or not, and you’re not close enough to call yourself an associate, friend, or family member, then you might want to explore different sorts of flowers to express sympathy.

Flowers are always appropriate, the question of whether or not to include a card is the big variable here. You can give someone flowers anonymously, if you’re not sure how they will take them. Getting anonymous flowers will get someone’s mind off their pain, and help them feel a little better; even if only for a short time.

  1. Comfort Food, Snacks, or Trinkets

    Snacks, little trinkets, gift baskets; you don’t have to be specific, you don’t have to lead a card letting the bereaved person know who gave the gift.

Now, this is a bit more in-depth than flowers, so in all likelihood, if you’re considering a larger gift, you’ve got a good relationship with the person who needs comfort. Special gifts can be helpful if the person knows you well enough.

4. Helping Friends and Family Through Tough Times

The gift you give someone going through a hard time has more to do with the emotional realities surrounding that gift than the gift itself. That’s why just spending time with someone going through a rough patch is so worthwhile. Beyond spending time with them, flowers and general gifts like snacks or little trinkets have their place.

Whatever you do, exercise discretion. Think about the pain someone is going through, and how you can help. Sometimes the only appropriate thing is to give someone a kind word. Sometimes you want to go “all-out”, as they say. Whatever the case, it’s good to find ways you can help those who are struggling with pain in their lives.