Well wishes are almost too common these days. “I am so sorry,” might be one of the better, one of the more classic ones, and the ones that goes the furthest. Common current ones like, “Love & light,” or “Be best,” or everyone’s favorite, “Thoughts & prayers,” don’t seem to go quite as far these days. Facebook even recognized this, and realized that it was time unveil a new emoji. Sometimes a concerned-looking yellow face holding a heart can help out, at least a little bit, but often a personalized message helps a great deal.
So what is the best advice for goodwill messages? How much personalization should be included? Is there a quota on these things? We’ve got you covered with some good tips.
Don’t syrupy, get direct
We’ve all seen the meme about the messages that you get saying, “I hope this email finds you well.” So many people are going through such a multitude of hard times right now that it’s almost impossible to find someone who is doing well. Sometimes, if you’re reaching out to someone, just let them know that you were thinking of them. The simple fact that you thought to reach out to them can often be a big deal. Small messages make a big difference. For me, that is the best advice for goodwill messages that I’ve heard. What might seem like not a huge deal to you might be a very big deal to the person you’re reaching out to.
Include your personal experience, but not too much
Over the last two months, I have had two people I know personally pass away. One was a fellow volunteer at an organization I treasure. Another was a former student. Both have been difficult to deal with, and difficult to express my feelings about. I find that when I draft out how I feel in a personal journal, I find the words I need more clearly when I am wishing their family comfort in mourning. I think that, especially when you are memorializing someone, it’s important to talk about the personal encounters you had with them. However, someone else’s memorial is not about you. It is not an opportunity to work out your own personal problems. If you are wishing someone well or memorializing a friend, personalization is essential. Memories of great conversations can be very valuable to people in mourning. Real human memories are so important to people. However, tell a story, and then let it be. Someone else’s death is not an opportunity for growth for you.
This should go without saying, but the best advice for goodwill messages is to be honest. If you’re writing someone a goodwill message, but you don’t have that much actual goodwill toward the person, don’t pretend like you do. Be sincere about your intentions. You might be a person for whom pouring on the well wishes is a normal part of your personality. But if you’re usually standoffish, don’t go gushing toward someone just because they’re experiencing a tough time. For someone suffering, insincere wishes almost makes suffering a little bit worse.
It can be hard to find the words to comfort others. Sometimes, being an ear to listen or a friend to carry a small bit of the load (emotionally or physically) can make a huge difference. If all you have to offer, though, are kind words, it’s best to make them direct, someone personal, and sincere. Often, those types of well wishes can make all of the difference.