Sorry – Such a little word.  But it can mean a lot. 

I have heard this word a lot over the last few weeks. 

We had a death in the family. 

I have heard “I’m sorry for your loss” many times over the last couple of weeks. 

It got me thinking.  Thinking about the term “I’m sorry.” 

When we think about the words “I’m sorry,” we automatically associate them with an apology.  However, the death was not anyone’s fault.  No one did anything wrong.  Death is just a part of life. 

I say “I’m sorry” a lot.  When I say it, often, I’m not apologizing for anything I did wrong. I’m not accepting fault or taking blame or anything like that. 

What does the “I’m sorry” mean in these circumstances?  What do people mean when they say, “I’m sorry for your loss?” 

As I reflect, I believe that there are two uses of the words “I’m sorry.” 

The first is the apology.  I am sorry for causing you harm.  I am sorry for hurting you. 

An apology can be a wonderful thing so long as it is infrequent and from the heart. However, beware of the person who justifies bad behavior with apologies. For them it is a means to an end, and quite often at your expense.

Gary Hopkins

The second is about connection.  It is about acknowledging someone’s pain, inconvenience, discomfort, or challenge.    

“I’m sorry for your loss” is not an apology.  It is an attempt to let someone know they are not alone, that they are understood, that they are seen. 

This kind of sorry is beautiful.