Words of comfort – expressing condolences in English

It’s hard to know what to say to comfort people who are grieving. Grief and death aren’t easy topics to talk about in any language.

In this video we share some English phrases that have made us feel a little better as we grieve the death of our dog Carter. Most of the words of comfort we share are appropriate for dogs and humans.

Click here to watch some more videos with useful everyday English

Words of comfort for grief – expressing condolences in English

Hello everyone. I’m Vicki.
And I’m Jay and today we have sad news. Our pet dog Carter has passed away.
We’re both very upset and we’re grieving but we’ve received some very kind messages from our friends.
It’s hard to know what to say when someone dies but our friends’ messages have been very comforting and made us feel a little better.
So we’re going to talk about Carter in this video and share some of the lovely things people have said – words of comfort.
We’ll show you phrases you can use to say you’re sorry when you hear someone has died – dog or human.
I have some tissues ready. Just in case.
We’ll tell you what words made us feel a little better.
Many of you will know Carter because he’s appeared in lots of our videos.
Carter was our very good friend and a wonderful companion who made me laugh all the time.
He was the star in of some videos. Perhaps you’ve seen him having meals.
Carter was a great actor.
I don’t know about great. But he was an enthusiastic actor. He loved being around when we were making videos.
He was a very handsome dog. In one video we made him an international fashion model.
So what did people say when they learnt Carter has gone?
Well, first of all, I noticed that people avoided using the word dead. ‘Dead’ and ‘Died’ could be painful for the people grieving, so instead they use phrases like you just used – Carter has gone.
‘He’s gone’ is a euphemism. A euphemism is an indirect way of talking about something unpleasant and we have lots of euphemisms for death.
They also said ‘passed on’ and also’ passed away’. On Facebook, I wrote, ‘We lost Carter today.’ I didn’t say ‘Carter is dead’. That felt too direct and unpleasant.
But people knew you meant dead?
Yes.
Because, of course, you could just lose your dog if they run off and don’t come back. (to jay) But people understood ‘We lost him’ meant ‘He died’?
Yes,
And what did people write in reply.
Well, the most common phrase was ‘I’m sorry for your loss.’
Uhuh. So the verb is lose – lose, lost, lost – and the noun form is loss.
And people often added emphasis, so they said ‘I’m very sorry for your loss’ or ‘I’m so sorry for your loss.’
We say these things if a person has died too. This might seem strange to some of our viewers because in some parts of the world customs are different.
What do you mean?
Well, in some places, dogs are kept outside the home, and they’re seen as dirty. But in the west they generally live with the family in the home.
I see. Yes, Carter shared our home and he was definitely part of our family. People understood that and they responded with kind words – like we’d say to anyone who was grieving.
What did they say?
Lots of people told us they were thinking of us. So they wrote things like: ‘Thinking of you both and sending lots of love’. And ‘Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time.’ Another one was, ‘I can imagine how hard it must be for you two right now.’
They’re very nice things to say. It is a hard time but these phrases tell us they care about us.
Yes. Another useful word is condolences. Several people used this.
Condolences is quite a formal word. It means the sympathy you feel for someone when a person in their family has died.
Our friend Jason used it. He said how sorry he was, but then he said ‘Lola and Oliver send their condolences.’
That’s nice. Lola and Oliver are Jason’s children and they’ve stayed with us so they know Carter too. He was telling us they felt sad as well.
Yes. Although it’s very formal, condolences is a great word for passing on other people’s sympathy. All these phrases helped me feel a little better.
Me too. We really appreciated them. What other things helped?
Hmm. When people shared memories. Some people didn’t know Carter but some did. Hearing their thoughts about him was very touching.
Can you give us some examples?
They said kind things like he was very special and he stole their heart. Our friend Geri wrote ‘Carter always made me smile and want to hug him.’
Geri adored Carter.
She’d play ball with him for hours and make him very excited.
Yeah. We adopted Carter when he was 18 months old, and he wasn’t trained. He used to get too excited and jump up at people.

Heads or tails.
Heads.
Tails.
You lose.

Carter was not supposed to be in that shot, but he got too excited.
We took him to a dog training class every week for over a year.
Really they were people training classes because we had to learn how to give him commands correctly.
But Carter was very smart – a very good learner. Do you remember our come and go video?
Come. Good boy. Good boy. Go to your crate. Good boy. Down. Good boy.
What a good dog!
That took more than a year of work at the dog training class! And sometimes it worked too well.

[door bell] Oh. Coming.

Carter ran in because he heard the word ‘coming’.
You didn’t always see Carter in our videos but he was always there when we were making them.
He wanted to be where the action was.
You know, this is a strange video.
Why?
Well, because we hope you’ll never need to use the English phrases we’ve been teaching.
Yeah, but probably you will and then we hope you can say kind words. Which words have given you most comfort Jay?
They all have. All of them. But perhaps the kindest words have come from people who knew Carter and shared happy memories. When someone says ‘I remember when…’ or ‘I loved how he would do this or that’, it means a lot.
Give us an example?
Oh, like Kathy.
Kathy is a dear friend who’s helped us make lots of videos.
She said ‘I never saw Carter in any other mood than cheerful and enthusiastic. I loved how he would sneak into our videos, lying on our feet under the desk.’ Carter always snuck under the desk and sat on her feet.
I’d say sneaked, but you’re right. He loved to be to be where the action was. And sometimes he appeared in videos when he shouldn’t. Like with Craig.

You just have to try and keep talking util the examiner stops you.

So what’s the lesson here?
If you can share a happy memory, I think it really helps. It will remind your friends about good times when they’re feeling sad.
Yeah. You know something makes me feel sad?.
What?
I think this could be the first video we’ve ever shot without Carter on the set with us.
Really?
Mmm. I think it’s time to stop now. Bye everyone.
Bye-bye.

Click here to watch some more videos with useful everyday English

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