What to say when someone dies?

Sending condolences message to someone who has lost a family member is never easy. How does one craft a message that is in accordance with Gurmat? DR KARMINDER SINGH provides 20 suggestions

Source: Pixabay
By Karminder Singh | OPINION |

The focus should be on messages that we can offer the grieving family about THEIR pain and loss – instead of focusing them on the “well-being” of the deceased in the “afterlife.” Such a stance will keep us in line with Gurmat and Gurbani whose focus is on us who are living in the Here and Now.

From the Gurbani viewpoint, statements such as “rest in peace” or “see you in the next world” or “may god bless his/her soul” are euphemisms to the level of being superfluous.

Have we really thought seriously to know that we are simply making empty and meaningless statements – all because we feel we HAVE to say something? Come to think of it, how does one “rest” if NOT in peace – upon death? Is there such a thing as “resting in conflict”? What do we know about “the next world”? Do we really even want to go there to see the deceased? As they say, everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die. So this statement is like telling a salesman “I will call you” when we have no real intention of doing that.

And God blessing a soul upon death is certainly not part of Gurmat.  The greatest blessings of God in Gurbani is to be blessed with life. The command of Gurbani pertaining to death is “the return of elements or matter that make up our body and life to their source.” There is no issue of “blessing any of the elements, including the soul.”

But sharing the pain of loss with the grieving family is very much a Gurmat principle. Sympathy and empathy are as much humanitarian tenets as they are Gurbani values. So here are 20 suggestions we can offer to the family and loved ones during a bereavement. Readers can certainly tailor the messages to fit the situation. The most important thing is to show our empathy to those who are grieving.

  1. May all loved ones be blessed with strength to deal with their loss.
  2. May the family be blessed with courage to deal with their loss.
  3. May Guru ji bless the family with strength to bear the pain of their loss.
  4. May Guru ji provide you the ability to overcome your pain.
  5. May all of you stay strong in your bereavement.
  6. May Guru ji provide the family the inner strength to handle your pain and loss.
  7. May the memories of your beloved dad be your guiding light in life.
  8. May the remembrance of your beloved (deceased person) fill your life with love and chardi kala.
  9. May the memories of your beloved mum provide you with comfort during this difficult time.
  10. May the examples set by your loving mother keep shining forever.
  11. I am truly honored to have known your dad/mum (deceased person). It was a gift knowing him/her.
  12. My wife and I share your pain and loss.
  13. My family joins me in expressing our deepest sympathies to yours.
  14. I / We / My family will surely miss your granddad (deceased person).
  15. Our prayers are with the family.
  16. We pray all the loved ones remain strong in their deep loss.
  17. I / We / My family shares your grief.
  18. Our hearts go out to you and your family in this difficult time.
  19. Words cannot express the sadness we feel at the loss of your (deceased person). Please   know that we are thinking of you.
  20. We are deeply sorry for your loss. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you need anything.

Sikh thinker, writer and parcharak Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston), is a retired Malaysian civil servant. He is the joint-editor of The Sikh Bulletin. He can be contacted at dhillon99@gmail.com. 

* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.



Taking Sikhi Back to 1468 (Asia Samachar, 11 June 2020)

ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs / Punjabis in Southeast Asia and beyond. Facebook | WhatsApp +6017-335-1399 | Email: editor@asiasamachar.com | Twitter | Instagram | Obituary announcements, click here |



    Heeran Kaur: Thank you for sharing, Balvinder Singh.
    And thank you for your thoughtful words and insights, Dear Writer.
    My 2 cents as a professional counsellor who supports clients through grief, loss and bereavement – most clients have said they feel upset when they’re asked to be strong /stay strong.
    It’s especially painful when a death is sudden or tragic or illness has been long drawn before a passing.
    This is evidence-based as we in the field take note of clients’ feedback. It’s like it’s not okay for the bereaved to feel sadness or to feel moments of weakness. And those who’ve suffered a loss resent that.
    However, many of the writer’s suggestions are very helpful. They convey condolences with thoughtfulness, sincerity and empathy.
    They’re synonymous with Gurmat and are just as useful when we convey condolences to others in multicultural communities including Malaysia.

    Balvinder Singh: Heeran Kaur thanks for sharing that…yes grieving is a natural process…we must allow the bereaved the space to heal…what I liked about the article is how the author correctly identifies our flippant attitude of just wanting to say something without thinking through what it means.

    Autar Singh: Well said. Good suggestions we can use to express our condolences to the family of a deceased. Thank you for sharing this.

    GJ Singh: Good article,but Mr Singh it’s our own business to how we sent condolences on the internet.The thought that counts.✌️

    Isha Pasricha: Great suggestions really, thank you for listing it out

    Jinderpal Sekhon: Very true indeed!

    Sharon MK: This article makes a lot of sense.

Comments are closed.