A number of people around me have lost loved ones in recent days, weeks, and months. I never know what to say. It’s a time as a writer when I feel like I, of all people, should have the words. But I don’t. And I don’t think I’m alone.

The most common things to say are, “Sorry for your loss,” or “My condolences.”
I can’t bring myself to type those words and I think it’s because they are not the words in my head. I want to say, “I’ll pray for you and your loved ones,” but I don’t because the vast majority of my friends aren’t religious and I don’t want to inadvertently bring up the possibility that there is no afterlife.
But what’s really in my mind to say most times seems too harsh or uncouth. That is, “This is so f**king sh**ty and there are no words I can offer that can make this okay, but if you need a hug, a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to listen, I’ll be there.”