When struggling for what to say in a sympathy card is humor the answer?
Laughter can be a coping mechanism to deal with deep emotional pain.
As part of my eighth grade history class we listened to audio recordings of the Nuremberg Trials.
To me it was a sad serious time. From the back of the class giggles erupted. Oh, not from the girls.
Who then? The boys including some big strong athletes.
Eventually the teacher stopped the presentation asking if anyone knew what was funny. When no one volunteered any information, he offered his own explanation.
He explained that sometimes when we are so emotionally upset the best release is laughter, which can quickly become hysterical laughter.
Have you ever seen someone laugh at a funeral?
Usually it’s not. It’s often the hysterical laughter that accompanies deep emotional pain.
And for some families it’s the best release.
Does that mean when struggling for what to say in a sympathy card you should inject some humor?
Probably not and here’s why –
Because humor can easily backfire.
At a time when the bereaved is in pain, you don’t want to add to it. While your intentions are honorable, humor may be taken as not taking the event seriously enough.
Adding to rather than decreasing the pain of the bereaved.
Now it’s different if the bereaved bring up humor or asks for funny stories about the deceased.
So how do you know what to say in a sympathy card?
Knowing exactly what to write in a sympathy card is hard.
What you say often depends upon how closely you know the bereaved and the deceased. Expressing your sympathies simply and sincerely often is all that’s needed. Letting the bereaved know that you are thinking of them can be very comforting.
If you can do something like offering to mow the lawn or run errands, that can also be very comforting to someone who’s distressed.
Here are some ideas for sympathy card phrases without humor –
- Thinking of you in the loss of your ___.
- Keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.
- My heart hurts for you at this time of sorrow.
For more ideas and suggestions in finding the words to comfort the bereaved and express your sympathy go to
To your healthy caregiving,
Ina Gilmore M.D. (ret.)
“The Knitting Dr.”
The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It does not replace information or recommendations from your own physician or other health care provider. Full Disclaimer and Disclosure.