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How To Wrie A Letter of Condolence or Sympathy

Updated on September 10, 2011

Writing A Letter

A letter of condolence should be heartfelt.
A letter of condolence should be heartfelt.

How To Write A Letter Of Condolence:

Letters of condolences are often difficult to write but for the person receiving it, your words can be a wonderful tribute to the person that has passed. Your letter helps to ease some of the grief that person is going through and it lets them know that they have support during a tough time. The reason you write  a letter of sympathy is to show that you are commiserating with their loss and to offer assistance through a difficult time.

When you sit down to write the letter there are several parts to help guide you. Think about your relationship with the person who is grieving, as well as the person who passed away, recall a memory you have had with the person who passed, consider what you would like to say, express your sympathy, and offer comfort and support, and end the letter with kind thoughts.

When writing a letter of sympathy, start by expressing your feelings about the loss. Something like: I wanted to let you know how saddened I am to hear of X’s passing.

 You can add any support or assistance as well, like: Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you. Take note, however, do not offer any assistance that you are not comfortable doing or cannot achieve. For instance, don’t offer to babysit or make that person dinner if it is just not feasible for you to do so.

You can continue on by letting the receiver know how that person has impacted your life, or any commendable traits that person had. You can write something to the effect of: X had a very giving nature, and having worked together on fundraisers for many years, I personally saw how he/she has changed the future of our organization for the better. It’s good to know that X’s work and memory will live on.

In continuation, this would be a good point in the letter to recall a memory of the deceased. In any letter of sympathy, sharing a memory lets the receiver understand that you valued the deceased and will keep his/her memory alive, which gives comfort to the griever. The memory can be an amusing story or an anecdote on how that person inspired you. For example: When I first met X, he/she was dressed up as a fish and just played it up. I thought it was cheesy, at first, but I saw how the kids really enjoyed it, and I got into it as well. I saw how X’s determination to have a good time and be a real character really made those sick kids have a wonderful time. By the end of it, we adults were all trying to one-up each other for the worst puns imaginable! X’s “A friend and not anemone” had us laughing so hard. To this day we still say it to one another!

You can continue by reiterating how you person and their family are in your thought, and close the letter with a meaningful phrase like: You and yours are in my thoughts and prayers. X will be dearly missed.

You can end the letter with something like: “With deepest sympathy” and sign it.

If the person who has passed is not a very close friend, it is fine to just let the person who receives the card that they are in your thoughts. You may offer support, but there is no need to recount any memories. Sometimes sympathy cards with poems or messages can say better what you would like to express. If you would like to add a poem, or a prayer, you can do so, but be sure that it isn’t too long. Letters expressing sympathy should be written to comfort the family and to acknowledge the loss of someone dear. 


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    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Wonderful tips on how to wrtie a letter of condolences. I have found it's always better to keep it short.


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