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Words of Comfort When Someone Dies – A Personal Reflection on the Power of the Written Word to Heal

Watching someone you love die hurts.

No matter how much you pray or beg for them to live, your calls are fruitless and go unanswered. Even if your loved one is in pain, and gains relief from suffering – it still hurts.

Like you, I have grieved the loss of dear ones. Looking back, time does ease the sense of loss and sorrow. However at the time, it seems as if the darkness would continue forever and no matter what folks said, nothing could erase the sense of loss and anger I felt.

I recall friends sending me sympathy cards and letters sharing their distress, sadness and pain. Strange as it may seem, it was these cards, the quiet words written on scraps of paper which made sense. It was if the sender could feel my pain and sorrow and spoke directly to my soul.

At that time, I was not familiar with the word ‘Affirmations’. My experience of reading inspirational quotes, prayers or poems sat squarely in the corner of former Religious Studies and English Literature lessons at school.

It was only during my first experience of grief that I realised just how powerful the written word is.

Can you remember the joy and elation you felt when you received a certificate for passing your exams or slip of paper to confirm you had passed your driving test?

There is something magical about a piece of paper with a message written on.

For me, when grieving and when I felt low, lonely or alone, I would pick up one of the sympathy cards or condolence letters I received and would sit and read them. Sometimes, tears would fall as I recalled happier carefree days spent with my brother and cousin; but generally, I would find a sense of grace, calm and comfort in reading and reflecting upon the higher meaning of the words.

Even today, I am still touched by the sentiments expressed, especially as the sender was going through their own grief yet still took the time and energy to send me a card or write a few words of sympathy. At the Service, the written words -poems or religious texts again came into their own. Preparing for my brother’s funeral, I was not particularly conscious of my spirituality or devout follower of any religion. Yet, was moved by the beauty and simplicity of the Lord’s Prayer and hymns and psalms sang at the grave side.

The sound, the quality and reverence of the texts struck deep and I felt “yes, everything is going to be alright.” This is just the beginning and today is a new day.

Nothing can ever replace our loved ones, but in the process of grief and coming to terms with your loss, words can be a great source of comfort and inspiration.

If someone you know is mourning, drop them a line, send them a card and rest assured your message will be heard and deeply appreciated.



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