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Parole di cordoglio

Words of Compassion

At a time when so many are dealing with loss (perdita) and suffering (sofferenza),  words may be all we can offer to ease their deep sorrow (profondo dolore). Yet in any language,  it can be difficult to know what to say to comfort (dare conforto, confortare) a friend or acquaintance  struggling with grief or sorrow (dispiacere). 

“Nelle occasioni tristi bisogna usare le parole con cautela e discrezione” (on sad occasions it is necessary to use words with caution and discretion), say linguists Valeria della Valle and Giuseppe Patota in Le parole giuste (The Right Words). Above all, you want to “evitare di urtare, involontariamente, la suscettibilità e la sensibilità di persone già provate dal dolore" (avoid upsetting, involuntarily, the susceptibility and sensitivity of people already troubled by suffering).

Most important is the simple act of reaching out  to communicate your sympathy and friendship. Do so in modo breve (in a brief way), the professors recommend, because in sad circumstances it is possible for words to diventare troppe (become too much).  The best advice: Speak or write from the heart, with phrases such as:

    *Ti sono vicino/a (depending on your gender)– I am close to you. I’m with you.  

    *Vi siamo vicini — We are close to you (plural).

    *Partecipo al tuo dolore — I share in your sadness.

    *Siamo con voi — We are whole-heartedly with you.

    *Nonostante la distanza [che ci divide], sono qui per te  – I'm here for you, no matter how far away we are from each other.

    *Mi dispiace molto per il brutto momento che stai passando – I'm really sorry for the terrible moment that you're going through.

You can offer support by saying:

    *Sono qui se hai bisogno di me – I am here if you need me.

    *Chiamami quando hai voglia di parlare – Contact me when you want to talk.

If you want to make a suggestion, you might say:

    *Tieni duro, passerà — Stay strong, it will pass.

    *Il mio consiglio è quello di trattarti bene – My advice is that of treating yourself well.

    *Il mio consiglio è quello di passare del tempo da solo/a. — My advice is that of spending some time alone.

If you are the recipient of a friend's  comfort, you can express your appreciation with  the same simplicity, for example:

    *Grazie per l’affetto dimostrato — Thank you for the affection you’ve shown.

    *Grazie per esserci stati vicini  — Thank you for having been close to us.

    *Sono molto commosso/a  — I remain very touched. 

Words and Expressions

Coraggio — Courage! Hang in there.

Fatti forza — Stay strong.

Conta su di me –- Count on me

Gli amici si vedono nel momento del bisogno — Friends show themselves in time of need, or a friend in need is a friend indeed.

Dianne Hales is the author of LA BELLA LINGUA, My Love Affair with Italian, the World’s Most Enchanting Language and MONA LISA: A Life Discovered.