So to anyone reading this who may be facing with this situation *(their friend or colleague having lost their husband or wife) please I beg you do not say "I know how you feel". Especially if you have not lost your wife of husband (or partner should you be gay).
Loosing a parent, however tragic and moving is (please note: I have lost my my mother only a few years ago and my father only in July) can not be compared to the the loss of a partner. That is so much more close to the bone as to be indescribable. In fact it cuts and breaks the bone and is pain so intense and lasting that I hope you never endure it. I believe it is the reason why so many people die when their wife dies. They die from either a broken heart or the medical conditions such as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy.
So if you are not in the situation where:
- you are in a sexual relationship with your parent
- building a house with your parent (for the purposes of raising your children)
- sleeping every night and waking every morning with your parent
- having deep conversations of how you feel
- growing together with your parent (in order to live better with them and learn to resolve conflicts)
So despite your good intentions, do not say such nonsence and instead just express you are really very sorry. Perhaps offer help or assistance, an ear to listen to.
But please don't say "I know how it feels" cos thankfully you don't.
At worst (depending on the person) you'll get a torrent of explaination or simply just appear to be the ignorant fool that you perhaps really are.
This is something that I have found to be a common feeling in the others I have met who are in my situation.
PS a friend who has also lost her parents and husband sent me this image today. I feel its poignant and wished to add it to this post.