In a world of Facebook, Twitter, texts and emails, this is one time when really, the old ways are the best.

If a neighbour, friend or workmate has suffered a loss, don’t avoid them because you feel awkward or because you’re concerned it’ll upset them. Offer a simple “how are you?” … “I’m sorry for your loss” or “I was sorry to hear about your gran”. Just be genuine.

Pop a card through the door, in their hand, on their desk or in the post. A few lines of sympathy, a thoughtful card. A simple gesture can go a long, long way when someone is trying to pick up life’s tattered threads.

One word of advice, don’t say “I know how you must be feeling”. You don’t. You know how you’d feel in the same circumstances. Don’t presume we all feel and think the same. We don’t.

OK, two words of advice. Take it easy on telling your own story. “I know when my mum died…” A little of that’s OK but it’s maybe better to be asking “how are you?” “how can I help you?”

See our films Thinking Ahead, Talking Openly to get tips on how to talk about death and dying. The same principles apply to bereavement and loss. Talk. Talk openly. Talk often.

Here are some simple lines you might adapt for a card. Make it more or less formal depending on your relationship. Add more personal memories if you know the person who’s died. And if you’re close to the person who’s had a loss, you may want to offer more support.

Dear Jon,
I was sorry to hear you had a death in the family. My thoughts are with you.
All best,

Dear Jan,
I was shocked to hear about the accident.  I’m so very sorry. I can’t imagine how you are coping.  I’ll pop round to see if there’s anything I can do to help.
Love Rach.”

Dear Ali,
I was sorry to hear about your dad.  Please pass on my condolences to your family.  If there’s anything I can do to help, let me know.
All best,

Dear Uncle Willie,
I am so very, very sorry to hear about Auntie Nellie. Gill and I had such wonderful times with you when we were wee and you would take us on jaunts. Do you remember the time we went to the safari park and Gill and I thought we were in Africa…
She’ll be sorely missed but well remembered. Thinking of you. We’ll be round with a pot of soup on Thursday.
All my love Babs.”

Technology comes into its own after the event, as a way of capturing and sharing memories and tributes. It’s one route to many, across geographical, distance and time boundaries.

Create a memorial on Final Fling and invite others to add theirs.

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