It’s hard to know what to say to someone who’s dealing with the loss of a loved one. In most instances, a simple ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ or ‘My thoughts and prayers are with you’ is customary – but it never feels enough.
The hard truth is, there’s probably no perfect thing to say that will be ‘enough’. However, you can still show your support and comfort through kind words and suitable gifts. In Buddhist culture, there isn’t any fixed or recommended way to offer condolences. As long as you do it with compassion and respect, it is perfectly acceptable.
If you are wondering what are some ways you can send your condolences to a grieving family, here are some ideas:
1. Send a gift
Condolence gifts are a common way to express one’s condolences. Typically, gifts like flowers or food baskets are sent to the family’s home or the address of the wake. They are ideal for letting the bereaved family know that you are thinking of them.
However, care needs to be taken when choosing the gift for a Buddhist funeral. For flowers, choose mourning colours like white, or a sacred colour like yellow. Avoid overly-bright colours, especially red, as these are reserved for celebratory occasions. When sending food, you might want to consider vegetarian food for the Buddhist family.
It is not unusual for Buddhist families to donate to charities in lieu of the deceased during a funeral. This is seen as a kind and pure act that can increase the ‘good’ karma for the deceased. If the bereaved family has made their intentions to donate known, you can contribute to this donation fund as your condolence gift.
Although the money doesn’t go to the bereaved family, most will appreciate it as a sign of support for sending-off the deceased in a respectable manner.
3. Be present
If you are able to, being present for your grieving friend or relative is the best thing you can do. Attend the wake and funeral, and provide help wherever it is needed. Even simple acts like bringing them their meals can be greatly appreciated during this trying time for them.
For any reason, if you are unable to attend the funeral, you can also show your care by dropping them a text message, phone call, or even video call. The least you could do is check in on their well-being, and offer your moral support. Apart from talking about the death and funeral proceedings, you could also recall happy moments and celebrate the life of the departed together.
Finding out the ways you can offer condolences is crucial especially for times when you cannot be physically present with the bereaved family. In light of visitor number limits during the ongoing pandemic, you can turn to these alternatives if attending the funeral is not possible.
At 1Stop Buddhist Funeral Services, we hope to help families navigate the grieving process and funeral planning smoothly. If you need any guidance on Buddhist funerals, traditions, and arrangements, don’t hesitate to contact us.