No matter where we are in life, we will come upon a time where we need to know the language to use to express one’s sympathy for the loss of a loved one. We will never be prepared for death. But after a loss, we don’t want to spend time scrambling to find the right words. So here they are in both Turkish and English.
Turkish: Başınız sağolsun
American English pronouciation: bah•shin•iz•sah•ol•sun
There are no other words that I know of in Turkish to express one’s sympathy. If you, my readers, know of any, please share them in the comments. Thank you.
- I am sorry for your loss.
- My condolences.
- Please accept my deepest condolences/sympathies.
- I am thinking of you in this time of sorrow. (Used more in writing).
- I will keep you (and your family) in my thoughts and prayers.
I am sure there are many other ways to express this in English, but this should be a good start if you find you need to express your sympathy in words or in writing.
The Cultural Divide
Sometimes I find Turkish to be a wonderful language. I have written this before; in Turkey, there is a “nicety” to say for almost everything. But the big difference is how the sayings are used. This is no different when it comes to expressing sympathy.
With the still-so-fresh passing of my father-in-law, I found comfort in this expression, “Başınız sağolsun.” Why? Because it was said to me over and over again, even though I had not lost my father, but rather, my father-in-law. All recognized that I was – I am – family. This is normal in Turkey. It is considered a big loss, for the family – the entire family.
As time passed, I received messages from my foreign (non-Turkish) friends and family. Many of the above English expressions were used. But, if I could recall all of them and review all of the written messages, I would approximate that 80% of the expressions of sympathy or more were directed only to my husband, not me. It probably didn’t even occur to most people that I had also suffered a loss. So very different from the Turkish way.
I’m not judging. I know I have done the same. I am positive of that. If I could go back in time, I would do it differently. We can never do everything the right way. We don’t even know what the “right way” is most of the time. But for this one little thing, I will attempt to change my future. I will offer these expressions of sympathy to anyone connected to the passing loved one. It’s just a little thing. It may not mean much to many. But it meant a great deal to me. Thank you all!