It is important to clearly identify yourself to the family. In addition to expressing sympathy, it is appropriate, if desired, to relate to family members your fond memories of the deceased. In some cases, family members may simply want you to be a good listener to their expressions of grief or memories of the deceased. In most circumstances, it is not appropriate to inquire as to the cause of death.
When in person, sympathy may be expressed by clasping hands, an embrace, or a simple statement of condolence like:
- “My sympathy to you.”
- “Our condolences to you and your family.”
- “It was good to know John.”
- “John was a fine person and friend. He will be missed.”
- “My sympathy to you and your mother.”