How to Write a Letter of Condolence

A word of sympathy can mean a lot to a grieving friend or family member.  A letter of condolence is usually a short, formal letter that contains a tribute to the deceased and words of sympathy for the members of the grieving family.  These letters are often given within two weeks after the death.

Step 1:  Choose appropriate stationery.

You can find stationery meant for letters of solace at the local stationery store or bookshop. although standard stationery will also work.

Warning:  Using proper stationery is part of expressing sympathy, so avoid using inappropriate stationery that may offend the family.

Step 2:  Acknowledge the loss of the loved one, express your sympathy, and give short tribute to the deceased.

You can also put in special memories and facts that you know about the deceased.

Warning:  Writing about a special memory that you have of the deceased will add a personal touch  to the condolence letter.  However, try not to overdo it by still sounding sympathetic instead of happy.

Step 3:  Remind the grieving family members of their strength and the support they have around them.

Warning:  This is one way to show your sympathy for the bereaved and not soley focus on the loss. Focusing too much on the loss   may do more harm than good.  It is good to  acknowledge the loss, but it is even more imporant  to support those who are left.

Step 4:  Offer help.

Once you have offered your help, do anything you can to do so, even if they do not verbally request it.

Warning:  Helping with the little things can mean a lot to the grieving family. However, only do this if the family has expressed their willingness to accept help from you.

Step 5:  End the letter with sincere words of sympathy

Warning:  To avoid a sympathy letter that ends abruptly, finish the letter with words of sympathy such as “You are in my prayers,’ or  “I am sending you my deepest sympathy.”

A condolence letter is easier to give than a verbally spoken expression of sympathy for the grieving family, although penning this kind of letter can still be difficult for most people.  Knowing what to put down, from selected words of tribute to words of sympathy, is one way to make a condolence letter that will express your sadness for the loss.

Photo Credit : r-u-s-t-i-i

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Comments

  1. Condolence letter is really meant to show sympathy and support to the person who lost his loved one. But condolence letters should not be too long or flowery. Before, I thought its best to share every detail you remember about the dead person in the thought of making the person who receives the letter feel better. But that is not always the case because as long as letters are concern, we should keep it short. We should always remember that the person we are giving the letter is still mourning.

  2. whimsical1207 says:

    Condolence letters are given to the bereaved family to express that we share their grief and to show that we are present to support and extend our help when needed. The condolence letter must be sincere and it should talk about the good and nice things about the person who passed away. However, we should remember that the letter is meant to make the reader feel good and somehow assuage the pain of being left behind. We should always be honest when we are writing the letter. If we are not close to the person who died then we should not say things that looks like we were.

  3. Josephine says:

    I agree, sincerity is very important in a letter of condolence. The writer must make the bereaved family feel that you are honestly concerned and emphatic towards them. In times like that, they really need an overwhelming support to get through the hard times. The condolence letter must also contain assurance that the passed loved one is now in a good place and will always watch over them. Nevertheless, our letter should not contain exaggerated and pretentious words just to ease their pain. Try to balance the sadness and happy feel in your letter, especially the good memories that their loved one left behind.

  4. Evesdrop says:

    One of the hardest parts of life is facing the death of a loved one. You will never know the depth of sorrow a bereaved person experiences unless you go through the same ordeal. Part of sending our sympathy to the bereaved is giving a heartfelt letter of condolence. But it wouldn’t be heartfelt if you just let Hallmark say everything for you and all you did was write To and From, like what most people does. Provide words of encouragement that does not sound like a cliché its better that you put everything in your own words.

  5. Sincerity is a definite must when writing a condolence letter, and I agree about the fact that the writing material should be appropriate, in which this case, choice stationery which conveys grieving and solace. Using inappropriate stationery which does not fit the solemn and somber situation could create a very negative impression with the receiver and would not reflect well on the sender’s character. It is also better if you keep the letter concise and straight to the point, showing sympathy while avoiding being too wordy. Do not sugar coat, yet do not be insensitive either. Put yourself in the position of the deceased family and you will know what to write and how to express it.

  6. People sometimes think that sending a condolence letter to the bereaved family is “corny” but it will help a lot in easing the grief they are feeling. Somehow they will feel that their family member who just died is someone important to other people. They want to get the sense that their lost loved one will be missed by all. Stress out in the letter your moral support and make them feel that you will be available just in case they need anything. A strong support system will be vital in the first few months of their family member’s death.

  7. potrish78 says:

    There are really no soothing words to ease the pain of the family who has lost someone. But a genuine compassion Letter of Condolence would be enough to make them feel that somehow, their lost loved one has touched someone else’s life. And that would actually make them feel a little better.

    Just like attending wakes or funerals, it is ethical to not wear anything red unless the family required you to do so. In writing a letter of Condolence avoid using red pens or red stationery as this color traditionally means that you are happy the person is already dead. Stick to black and blue pen and if you can, use plain stationery as well. Try to refrain from using stationery with hearts in it or with prints that are too loud because you are not writing a love letter, rather a letter of condolence.

  8. Condolence letter is one of the letters that are as hard to compose as saying the words personally. But as what have said, it helps in easing the pain the family is going through. Sincerity is an important factor when composing a condolence letter, how-to’s may have helped checking if we were able to write down everything bereaving family needs to know, but the sincere words are as important as having that checklist. Sincere words may be short but they will be able to speak into their hearts and make them feel they are not alone in going through such stage and support are always there.

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