"Hello, how are you?"
"Fine. How are you?"
"Really well, thank you." Oops?
Hold on... If your life is as sweet as the buttercream and message on this cake (now a lovely memory) that's good, and you can say so.
But your acknowledgement of their opposite state-- a spoken (and written) observation, is comforting. "This must be a very difficult time for you. I'm so sorry."
Perhaps you can remember a time when you felt so overwhelmed by a painful situation that returning to "fine" seemed unlikely. At some point, you became "fine" again. Keep this clear-headed insight to yourself.
Your condolence note provides the opportunity to offer some help, however.
- "I'm good with paperwork, if you need a second pair of eyes."
- "If you need help with yard work at your Dad's place, here's my cell..."
In life, we take turns being happy--or struggling... which is why reminding a grieving person that they are not alone, is valuable.