How would one greet a person on his/her birthday today, (at least some sort of greeting to acknowledge his/her birthday) especially when his/her father died yesterday.

I am from Sri Lanka and he is from India and we are working in Middle East. The greeting would happen face to face.

It's an old friend who is now a colleague too.


2 Answers 2



Wish them a happy birthday and remind them that they can talk to you about their loss and their pain, but do not try to comfort them. They need to know you haven't forgotten their birthday, yet that you're not expecting them to be joyful on that day.

Further explanation

There's a novel I recently read where a man lost his wife while she was giving birth to his first child. His daughter's birthday would always be the day he lost his beloved spouse and therefore, he would never totally enjoy his daughter's special day.

Grieving may change the signification and atmosphere of some special days like Father's Day or a birthday for people who lost someone. What you need to know is that although the temptation to comfort them is strong, you should not try to do it. It has been proven that the most effective thing one can do to help someone who's going through difficult times is only to acknowledge their pain. If you try to comfort them, it could sound like it's either not a big deal ("these things happen") or that it shouldn't hurt ("you'll get through this"). For instance, this is why saying to someone whose marriage came to an end

You're a good person. You'll easily find a new partner.

would not necessarily help them. They need to go through the sadness process. By comforting them, you deprive them of one precious thing that is that they know you know. You know what they're going through. Comforting them might make them feel that you don't understand what they're going through and how bad they're hurt. Letting them tell you their story is the first step toward acceptance and healing. I know it's difficult because we hate seeing our relatives suffer and we'd like to do anything we can to help them, but this is the most effective way to help.

Considering this, you could say to your friend:

Bob, I know these last days must have been incredibly hard. I'd still like to wish you a happy birthday. I can't imagine what you're going through right now. I'm here if you want to talk about it.

Wishing them a happy birthday makes them know you remembered and care about them, yet with the other sentences, you let them know that you understand their pain. When this latter alleviates, they may be able to celebrate again, but right now, all they need is that you don't forget them and express your caring through these tough times.


Being an Indian, I hope this answer would help you.

You need to greet your friend with different manner because the situation is sad.

Before birthday greeting, you need to give condolence. While giving your condolence, initially just sit calmly near your friend for some time because atmosphere is very sad.

Just give one hug to your friend. If he wants to cry on shoulder then Let him cry. Spend some time with your friend because now he needs someone close to share his father's memories. Please don't bring any cake with you because situation is not that much enjoyable.

Initially just say few words,

"The incidence is very sad. You need to face the incidence with strong mind. The uncle can not come back. You have to accept the reality. Slowly you need to forget the things. I am with you. Don't worry"

Spend whole day with your friend. According to situation and if there is a need then spend some more time with him. Your friend needs mind support so you will have to be there.

If possible go somewhere else (other than home), I mean to some peaceful place so that he will feel better. Bring some snacks or food which he likes. Change the topic to something interesting so that there is some smile on his face. If possible,

Create a scenario so that he will forget the incidence for some time. And according to the somewhat changed situation, greet him for his birthday.

"Wish you many many happy returns of the day. A very happy birthday ! I wish you will get great, successful, healthy and long life ahead."

If you can try to make him busy for whole day in another interesting stuff then you can try that also.


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