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The phrase 'sorry for your loss'

(234 Posts)
Numberlock Thu 26-Sep-13 11:10:13

It's so trite, where did it come from? It seems a fairly recent thing.

I can't stand euphemisms at the best of times, what's wrong with saying 'Sorry to hear about xxxx'?

'Loss' sounds like you've misplaced a handbag or credit card...

Teapot13 Fri 24-Feb-17 03:16:09

Of course it's a bit meaningless -- it's a set phrase for formal situations. It isn't to comfort a best friend, where you know the person involved and might actually have something worthwhile to say.

BarbarianMum Fri 24-Feb-17 02:26:22

A few years ago there was a thread on here that attempted to compile a list of the things you should/shouldn't say or do to the recently bereaved. By the end of it there wasn't one single sentiment or phrase mentioned as acceptable that hadn't also deeply upset someone. For the first time I understood why people do just cross the road to avoid saying anything. sad

TheWinterOfOurDiscountTents Fri 24-Feb-17 02:11:49

Oh FGS, Zombie thread. Why would you?

TheWinterOfOurDiscountTents Fri 24-Feb-17 02:09:43

It's a standard phrase in Ireland. What do you want people to say? Nothing?

KERALA1 Thu 23-Feb-17 23:41:53

I work with terminally ill people, often I have never met them but they tell me on the phone prior to meeting - I usually say something like "I am so sorry to hear that" or similar. Dd aged 7 overheard and was confused because "the fact they are ill isn't your fault mummy". Difficult to explain that you can be sorry for something that isn't your fault.

TheElephantofSurprise Thu 23-Feb-17 22:38:26

I like it. I use it. It helps.

3rdInfantryGrunt Thu 23-Feb-17 22:37:46

I HATE this expression, it sounds so trite and impersonal.

Imaginethat Fri 27-Sep-13 22:02:35

everlong Oh my gosh I would feel so hurt. Your son, your beautiful son. I'm so sorry.

everlong Fri 27-Sep-13 21:38:32

Imagine bloody hell, yes at least get the spelling right!

When ds died one of DH's friends posted a card. It was a condolence card but with no message just a rushed scribbled autograph. That made me sad.

Imaginethat Fri 27-Sep-13 21:22:22

When my sister died one of my colleagues emailed

Sorry for yur loose

Which I thought was pretty crap, really.
Sheesh, at least spell it right.

I tried really hard to be grateful for words, however clumsy, because I think people mean well. But sometimes it does hurt.

OliviaMMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 27-Sep-13 18:42:35

Hello OP

Sorry about all of this - do let us know if you'd like us to move this thread out of AIBU.
Peace and love

Arabesque Fri 27-Sep-13 11:27:28

At my father's funeral someone came up to me, offered her sympathies and started gabbling away about some work thing and they'd be sending it on to me etc.

I thought it was strange but afterwards I realised it was just nervous chatter because she wasn't sure what to say. I didn't take offense, she had dragged herself out on a Saturday morning to come to the funeral and had probably spent the afternoon kicking herself. But she came and she sympathised, however awkwardly she handled it. You just can't go around analysing and mulling over things people say at a time when they're feeling anxious about doing the right thing. Yes,some people say particularly nice things that mean a lot and you remember those words. And some people say something awkward and crass and you remember that but appreciate that they really tried and just got it wrong. And loads and loads of people just say 'I'm sorry for your loss' and you just remember, with gratitude, that they acknowledged your loved one's death.

MerryMarigold Fri 27-Sep-13 09:11:57

this is a great article

Growlithe Fri 27-Sep-13 00:10:52

Firstly, OP, I'm really sorry that you are suffering bereavement at the moment, especially of someone so close.

It almost seems a part of the process to strike out at somebody/something. Better to start something like this on an anonymous forum than do what I did and start a big row with my lovely DBro and his equally lovely wife.

But these people don't know what to say to you. They want to say something to help you, but what words would do that? They are frightened to upset you, but what could they say that would make you feel worse? So they say this, because they are scared, so go easy on them.

Since I lost my mum I've always tried to put a memory of the person whilst writing a sympathy card, but it takes experience to realise this would be well received.

Try to go easy on everyone at this time, and look at the number of people who at least tried to say something to comfort you.

All the best for the journey you are about to make back to what we call 'normality'. It's a bumpy one, and you don't end up back in the same place.

WeAreSeven Thu 26-Sep-13 23:45:08

"I'm sorry for your loss" or "I'm sorry for your trouble" is fine by me. I know a lot of people have disagreed with Numberlock on this. Numberlock, I am so sorry about your Mum, I'm sorry the words hurt.

"She's in a better place" , no not fine, she was seven weeks old, she belongs with her Mum and Dad, if she is in a better place, she has no business being there without us.
"God wanted another angel" Did he indeed? Well, why did He take mine? Why was I singled out to make that sacrifice? He didn't fucking take your child, did he?
"She would have been a vegetable anyway?" Er, no she wouldn't. She was as bright as a button, she died suddenly and unexpectedly and who, in this day and age, refers to any child as a vegetable, no matter how disabled they are. You have just equated my child, and many other precious children with a carrot or leek.
"I know how you feel" No you don't, all your children are alive. On one memorable occasion this statement was followed with "My dog died". I like dogs, I get that you loved your dog, but losing a dog is not like losing a child, in any way, shape or form.
"At least you have your other children" Well, I suppose one child is much like another, like having four chocolates left when you had five. Except that it isn't.

And then there is the scuttler. The one who ducks into a different aisle in the supermarket or rushes past in a hurry. It isn't catching, you know!

My uncle arrived at my house and just said "I don't know what to say." And that was fine, too. He was right. He couldn't say anything that would bring her back, work no magic that would make me better.

Accepting that nothing you can say will make it better is a good start. And that saying nothing will make it worse. Just say you're thinking of them. Praying for them if you do pray, that's fine, even if they've fallen out with God themselves.

The lovely white has said it very well. I will never forget the neighbour who brought a shepherds pie or the school Mums who said nothing and just hugged me,or the people who invited me over for coffee and cake. The cousin who brought a rose in a pot for me to plant in the garden.
And the lovely ladies on the Bereaved Mums thread who let you know that life will always be just that bit more shitty than it used to be but that life can go on.

whiteandyellowiris Thu 26-Sep-13 23:09:55

rhet, no problem, glad to have hopefully helped.
you are clearly a thoughtful caring person
and im glad this person has someone as sensitive looking out for them
wishing you both the best of luck

i am v lucky that i do have good support because it makes a huge huge difference

BlackDaisies Thu 26-Sep-13 23:07:37

cg13 thank you smile. Don't worry, my main feeling was that it was nice to get a card, and I appreciated that people cared enough to send it. It did shock me a bit, seeing a whole card full of comments about my loss/ news, but it didn't make me in any way think anyone was uncaring. It made think about how I would word a card in the future, or what I would say. The only difference now is that I would include "I'm sorry to hear about your mum/ dad "etc rather than a loss.

rhetorician Thu 26-Sep-13 23:05:54

Thank you. I have tried to do some of the things you suggest, remembering her daughters birthday, a text the day all the children went back to school. Acknowledging her grief but also that I really don't know what it is like or what she and her husband are going through. But I do know that she won't 'get over' it, only somehow, painfully, learn to live with it. I really appreciate your responses, thank you so much.

I hope that you have support, love and understanding from those around you.

Namechangesforthehardstuff Thu 26-Sep-13 23:00:40

Mrs DV I've just finished reading the thread but mainly your posts and I just say that your argument is being heard, is simple and is clear and that I'm so sad to read your examples of being treated with a basic lack of humanity following your bereavement. So unbelievable that people would treat you that way.

whiteandyellowiris Thu 26-Sep-13 23:00:22

rhet, seriously you can help our colleague friend
if you do those things such as remember the dates, maybe send her a little card, if its easier, as idon't know what its like in your workplace
it will honestly mean so much to her
make sure you use her childs name
i and people i know in this shitty position love to hear our childs name said out loud
realise at christmas it will be espeically hard for her, her emotions will probably feel even more intensifed
and its a really tough time to get through
and she probably putting on the act, pretending to be better than she actually is
see though it
and all these things will really really help her
i hope that it really helps you both

theres a couple of poems i particulary like that explain the grief and loss in a far more eloquent way than i ever could
but this is one of them
it mighe help with understanding a tiny percent of the pain

sk My Mom How She Is

by Author Unknown

My Mom, she tells a lot of lies,

She never did before

But from now until she dies,

She'll tell a whole lot more.

Ask my Mom how she is

And because she can't explain,

She will tell a little lie

because she can't describe the pain.

Ask my Mom how she is,

She'll say"I'm alright."

If that's the truth, then tell me,

why does she cry each night ?

Ask my Mom how she is

She seems to cope so well,

She didn't have a choice you see,

Nor the strength to yell.

Ask my Mom how she is,

"I'm fine, I'm well, I'm coping."

For God's sake Mom, just tell the truth,

Just say your heart is broken

She'll love me all her life

I loved her all of mine.

But if you ask her how she is,

She'll lie and say she's fine.

I am here in Heaven

I cannot hug from here.

If she lies to you don't listen

Hug her and hold her near.

On the day we meet again,

We'll smile and I'll be bold.

I'll say,

"You're lucky to get in here, Mom,

With all the lies you told!


An Ugly Pair of Shoes"

I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable Shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the other one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in the world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don't hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by
before they think of how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of the shoes I am a stronger women.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

MrsBeep Thu 26-Sep-13 22:56:22

I work in a call centre and sometimes people have to call up and tell me someone close to them has passed away and to cancel their insurance. All I can ever think to say is "I am very sorry to hear of your loss". What would you suggest I say differently? I have always only ever got a "Thank you" from the relative on the end of the line.

ImagineJL Thu 26-Sep-13 22:48:31

Sorry, I haven't read the whole thread, but I remember when my brother died, the comment I found hardest to handle was "I don't know what to say". Several people said that to me at his funeral. It made me feel that they were uncomfortable, "didn't know what to say", so it was my responsibility to put them at their ease and tell them it was OK! "Sorry for your loss" would have been better.

I'm a GP so I spend a lot of my time sympathising with people for various reasons, and I tend to say things like "I really feel for you, life can be so cruel, you must be feeling wretched, it's just not fair". Having gone through such a horrific bereavement myself I feel it's important to acknowledge and "permit" the bereaved person's misery, rather than making them feel they have to minimise their distress in order to save you discomfort!

rhetorician Thu 26-Sep-13 22:46:23

whiteandyellow thank you For your guidance, and sorry that you are in a position to be so knowledgeable. I have a colleague who lost her daughter earlier this year and I have struggled to find the right thing to say.

expatinscotland Thu 26-Sep-13 22:38:22

I always see it is that we were handed a life tariff and she got a death sentence, but I agree with MrsD and whiteiris.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Thu 26-Sep-13 22:34:12

MrsDV flowers Even after all of these years & the number of times you have written it, I still can't believe that people said that after B died. I know people struggle to say the right thing, I know it's difficult to find the words - but FFS 'It's for the best'????????? That isn't even approaching 'ok' for a very elderly, very ill, person - it just isn't - let alone for a beautiful, amazing, loving, child.

It is odd how you spend so much energy (when you are bereaved) not upsetting other people, gracefully hmm acknowledging peoples condolences, trying to focus on the sentiment & not the (sometimes ill thought out) words people use.... it is exhausting and frankly, there were days when I was just glad when everyone had left and I didn't have to 'hold it all together'. People said some really insensitive stuff, none through malice, but certainly through not actually thinking before they opened their mouths and all you can do is bite back the retort and smile - there were a few times when if I had actually spoken it would not have been pretty.

I think 'Sorry for your loss' is fine. It's a little impersonal, but it's fine and it does the job.

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