How to write a condolence letter


Writing a condolence letter or sympathy card can be very challenging but it is very important after a death to comfort the family or spouse of the deceased. However, there is a formula to follow and some tips that can make writing a condolence note or sympathy card easier.


Steps for writing a condolence or sympathy card

Dealing with a death is one the hardest things any of us will ever have to deal with, and it is the worst for the spouse, the family and the close friends of the person who died. A condolence letter or sympathy card can mean a lot to a person grieving. Follow the steps below to write a fitting letter of condolence that will be appreciated.

1. Start by addressing the addressee by their first name if you are close to them, by Mr or Mrs if you are not close to them.

2. If you do not know the addressee well, identify how you knew the deceased person.

3. State how sorry you are to hear about their loss. Avoid saying killed, died or referring to the manner of death in any way. Use passed on, passed away, loss or other softer words, for instance "I was deeply saddened to hear about the loss of your father."

4. Refer to the deceased person by their first name if you knew them well. It is comforting to a family member to read the name of the person they have lost.

5. If the death was a shock, you can say so. "I was so shocked when I heard what happened." If the death was expected, as in the case of an illness, you can say that the person's suffering has ended. "At least she will not have to suffer anymore."

6. If you knew the person well, say something nice about them or mention a fond memory of them, or a way you will remember them. For instance, "Whenever I hear someone playing the piano, I will remember her great gift for it" or "I will always remember the first time I met him at the volunteer meeting. He had everyone laughing." If you have a nice memory or one that won't disturb the family, it is nice to share it, but be sure it is appropriate.

7. If you did not know the deceased person well, its ok to say that. "Although I didn't know her well, it is obvious to me that she was very beloved" or "I've heard so many great things about her" or "I wish I could have had more time to get to know her."

8. If the deceased was special to you and you will miss them, be sure to tell that to the family. It will be comforting as they grieve to know their loved one was valued.

9. Do not ever tell someone that you know how they feel or you've been there. You can empathize, but use such statements as "I know this must be a very difficult time for you". Avoid "I know just what you're going through".

10. Avoiding telling them that a death is God's will. If you know the family is religious and you know them well, it may be ok to say that the deceased is with God now. If you do not know them well or don't know their religious beliefs, avoid this.

11. Offer your help to them (but only if you mean it). "If there is anything I can do, please let me know."

12. Finish by saying that your thoughts (and prayers, if you are religious) are with them.

13. End with a closing such as "Sincerely", "God Bless", "Thinking of you", "With sympathy" or something similar and sign your name.

14. If the letter was typed, be sure to add a short note in your own handwriting. "My thoughts are with you" or something similar.

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