A condolence letter is used to express sympathy and to convey to someone who has lost a loved one that you are missing them too. Although you may think of a condolence letter as simply something that is written because it is the right thing to do, many recipients may consider them a keepsake, as these types of letters can show that the deceased did make an impact on someone else.
There are some things you should express in a condolence letter, but there are also some things you should not say, such as you know how they feel – because you do not. Here are some tips for writing your letter.
1. Hand write your letter. This is especially true if you are a relative or close friend of the family. A hand written letter adds a much more personal touch than a typed letter.
2. Keep it brief. Your condolence letter should be brief, expressing your sorrow at the loss. Never mention the circumstances surrounding the death of the deceased, or how much they must have suffered.
3. Avoid these mistakes. In writing your condolence letter, don’t use words like “relief” or “blessing”. Even if you feel the deceased is better off because they were in immense pain while they were alive, their loved one misses them terribly and does not want to hear what a blessing it is that the deceased is gone.
4. Share something positive. Mention something that will brighten the day of the bereaved, such as something positive the deceased said about them.
5. Reassure the bereaved. Tell the bereaved that you believe they have the strength to deal with the loss, and that they will go forward in proper time.
6. Offer to help. In closing your condolence letter, let the bereaved know that you are happy to be of assistance if there is anything at all you can do to help them.
7. Sign your letter. To close your letter, include something like “With warmest regards” or “Thinking of you”.
Sample Condolence Letter
Name of recipient
City, State, Zip
Dear (first name, if you are a relative or close friend, “Mrs., Mr., Ms.” and last name otherwise)
Body of letter
In the first paragraph, explain why you are writing, expressing your sorrow to learn of the passing and that you are extending your sympathy.
In the second paragraph, talk briefly about your relationship with the deceased and the positive characteristics they possessed that affected your life. Mention briefly something the deceased said or did that impacted your life.
In closing, express your hopes that the bereaved has good memories, and that their strength will carry them through this difficult time.
Warmest regards, Thinking of you
In writing your condolence letter, it is proper to indent paragraphs if you wish; it is also proper to write everything beginning at the left-hand side of the page, and simply skip a line between paragraphs to break them up.
A condolence letter will let the bereaved know you are thinking of them, and make them aware that their loved one did make a difference during their life time.