How To Write a Condolence Letter

When someone close to you loses a loved one, it may seem like nothing can comfort him or her. But even a small sympathy note or condolence letter has the ability to console a grieving friend. Let someone know that you're thinking about him or her during a time of loss by writing a condolence letter.

Step 1

Send the note quickly. Condolence letters must be sent as quickly as possible after the death occurs. It must arrive when your friend is still in the initial stages of the grieving process. Wait no more than 2 weeks to send the letter of sympathy.

Step 2

The letter needs to be handwritten. A condolence letter is a personal note from your heart, and it needs to appear that way. That is why it is important for the letter to be handwritten by you. Computer-written letters, emails, and heaven forbid, text messages, are just not appropriate forms in which to send letters of condolence. Choose some beautiful stationary or a nice card to write your condolence letter on.  A personal, hand-written note sent on some lovely stationary is appropriate and will be well-received by your friend.

Step 3

Send words from your heart. Letters of sympathy, though difficult to write at first, need to be written from the heart. Say words that come natural to you, and don't worry about sounding sappy or unmanly or whatever. Just write the condolence letter in the same way that you would speak to your friend. No poems, verses or jokes either. Heartfelt words of sympathy are all that are acceptable in condolence letters.

Step 4

Say the right things. If you're struggling with what to write in your condolence letter, here are some tips:

  • Start by referring to your friend's loss of a loved one (and use the loved one's name)
  • Mention how sorry you are (express your sympathy)
  • Make special note of any special characteristics or qualities of the deceased that you'll remember
  • Write down a memory or two that you shared with the deceased
  • Let your friend know that he is still strong, and has the ability to get through this process
  • Offer your support in any way possible - specific offers of help, like "I will take over your duties at the club on Wednesdays until you're feeling up to it again" are also very appreciated by those who have just lost someone
  • Finish off your condolence letter with a meaningful thought or phrase (like ‘you are in my thoughts' or ‘may God be with you during this difficult time') as opposed to the traditional ‘sincerely' or ‘love', which aren't appropriate or as personal as a condolence letter requires.

This is only a suggested way of writing a condolence letter. You can definitely add your own personal touch to letters of sympathy that you write. Just ensure that they are heartfelt, touching and appropriate. A condolence letter should express your sympathy to your friend by relaying your sympathies and offers of support during his time of grieving.


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