How to write a condolence letter

How to write a condolence letter

When somebody passes away, we mostly find ourselves at a loss for words, but composing a letter of condolence can aid in bringing solace to the bereaved. Attempt to write some words to let them know you’re thinking of them and that their loved one made a difference in many people’s lives. A sympathy letter must always honor the deceased’s life and offer additional help to the grieving families when they are in need; they also might save the letter and look it again in the future.

Construct a handwritten letter

Preparing the letter by hand is far more meaningful than typing it or purchasing a sympathy card from a store, while you may decide to buy a card and place the letter within it. The letter can be acknowledged to a single grieving individual or the entire family.

Keep it brief and to the point

You don’t need to compose a long letter as long as it’s genuine. We’re all afraid of telling the inappropriate thing and upsetting the bereaved, but expressing that you value in very few words is preferable to saying nothing at all.

Send your deepest sympathies

Best not to worry about how the person died. Rather, convey your genuine and heartfelt condolences and recognize the loss.

Here are a couple of examples;

  • I would like to convey my sympathies for your loss.
  • It was with deep sorrow that I found out about the death of.
  • I was deeply devastated to learn of the death of.

Share a fond memory

Communicating a special memory of the departed may bring the grieving family a few moments of happiness. They could benefit from hearing tales about their loved ones and how they favorably influenced the lives of others.

Provide your assistance and support

Add in the letter if you are ready and intend to give your assistance and aid in the coming weeks or months. The individual is often more likely to accept a precise offer of help, including doing the once-a-week grocery shopping; however, avoid making commitments that you cannot maintain.

Finish the note with some thought-provoking words

Try to close the letter with a few inspiring words that show your appreciation.

Here are some examples;

  • With my love and sincere sympathies
  • My heartfelt condolences

Condolence letters templates

To the family of a deceased work colleague

I’m writing this letter on behalf all [name’s] workmates at  [company name] to convey our heartfelt condolences on your tragic loss. [Deceased Name] was a valuable contributor who made numerous accomplishments to the organization. Aside from being an outstanding worker, [he/she] was always friendly and considerate of [his/her] coworkers. [He/she] frequently spoke fondly of [his/her] family. Everybody at the office will, unfortunately, miss [Name].

To the relatives of a person, you didn’t know well

I was extremely sorry about your recent loss. Although I didn’t know [name] well, [he/she] was always courteous and respectful when we met. Kindly consider my condolences on your grief and loss.

To a neighbor or friend

Regardless of what we have last week communicated, I intended to write to express my condolences for your loss. [Name] was such a unique individual that no words can truly describe [him/her]. [He or she] delighted everybody and will be truly missed. People share with me how much [name’s] friendship meant to them. I’ll contact you soon to check if I can be of assistance in any way.

Tips for writing a condolence note or letter

To start writing your condolence letter, consider these steps. Not all of them are required, but they could give you an idea of how to structure your letter.

  • Start by directly mentioning the loss. While you don’t have to be rude or harsh, you also shouldn’t ignore the fact that someone has died. Note to address the deceased by their given name too.
  • Articulate your condolences in any way you see fit. You can get some ideas from the condolence letter templates written above.
  • You may discuss the person who died and a special memory you have of them. Perhaps an interesting tale or warm memory.
  • You could then go on to indicate some of the deceased’s greatest strengths or personal attributes.
  • If you are able, do offer some assistance. Assist with the memorial service, doing some purchasing or preparing food for them, watching their children, and so on. However, only offer if you intend to assist. Don’t make it a meaningless gesture.
  • Close the letter with a declaration of encouragement or a heartfelt sentiment.

Things to avoid when writing a condolence letter

Here are a few things to avoid when preparing a condolence note;

  • Prevent employing religious phrasing or connotations in your letter unless you are sure the recipient or grieving families had a deep faith or religious side.
  • Some phrases should never be used. ' It was their time', ‘it’s for the best," and so on. These phrases could be extremely disrespectful and set the wrong tone.
  • Allow them to grieve at their own pace and in the manner that suits them best. Don’t push them to move on with their grief any sooner than they are prepared.
  • Do not go into specifics about the reason for death. When the grieving families are attempting to avoid dwelling on the situation, it may be an uninvited reminder.

How do you start a letter of condolence

Starting a condolence letter can be hard, but here are some ways to begin;

Expressing sympathy

    • Simple and sincere: “I felt really sad when I heard about [name]’s passing.”
    • Acknowledge feelings: “I’m really sorry for your loss.”
    • Offer support: “I’m thinking of you during this tough time.”

Adding a personal touch

    • If you knew the person who passed: “I was fortunate to know [name] for [number] years. They had [positive qualities].” Share a memory if you can.
    • If you only knew the person receiving the letter: “I understand how much [name] meant to you, and I can imagine it’s really tough for you.”

Combining elements in a letter

  • “Dear [Name], I was really sad to hear about your [relation to recipient]’s passing. [Name] was such a kind and [positive quality] person, and we’ll miss them a lot.”
  • “I’m so sorry for your loss. Although I never met [name], I know they meant a lot to you, and I’m here for you during this difficult time.”

What is the appropriate tone to use when expressing condolences in a letter

The right way to write a condolence letter involves finding a balance between being sincere, respectful, and warm;

  1. Sincerity: Say things that truly show you’re sorry and understand the person’s pain. Don’t use overly formal or generic words.
  2. Respect: Be careful not to say anything that might hurt or seem like you don’t care about their feelings.
  3. Warmth: Avoid being too happy, but add a bit of warmth to show you care and want to comfort them.

Consider these things;

  • Language: Use simple and clear words. Don’t make things complicated or use words that might be hard to understand.
  • Focus: Talk about the person who’s feeling sad, not about yourself. Let them know you understand their loss and want to help.
  • Positive memories: If it’s right, share a good memory of the person who passed away. But don’t talk too much about the past.
  • Religious references: If you’re not sure about their beliefs, it’s safer not to talk about religion.
  • Personal anecdotes: If you have a personal story about the person or the one who’s sad, share it briefly. But make sure it fits and doesn’t take away from the main message of support.

Remember, the main thing is to be genuine and respectful. Here are some examples of good phrases:

Instead of: “This must be a terrible time for you.”

    • Try: “I know how much [name] meant to you, and I can only imagine how difficult this is.”

Instead of: “They’re in a better place now.”

    • Try: “May your memories of [name] bring you comfort during this time.”

How can you convey genuine empathy and support in a condolence letter

Sending a heartfelt condolence letter means more than just expressing sadness. It involves acknowledging the person’s pain and offering real ways to help. Here are some tips;

  1. Acknowledge the loss: Don’t avoid mentioning the death directly. For example, you can say, “I was really sad to hear about [name]’s passing.”
  2. Express your feelings: Instead of just saying sorry, share how their loss affects you. For instance, say, “I can imagine how much you must be hurting right now.”
  3. Focus on their emotions: Recognize their specific feelings, like saying, “This must be a really tough time for you” or “It’s okay to feel sad, angry, or confused.”
  4. Share personal memories: Tell a good memory about the person who passed away. But don’t dwell on the past if it might be too emotional for them.
  5. Offer specific and genuine support: Instead of vague offers like “Let me know if you need anything,” suggest practical actions like helping with groceries or just being there to talk. Be sincere and ready to follow through.
  6. Respect their boundaries: When offering support, be sensitive and avoid being intrusive. Let them know you’re available when they’re ready, respecting their need for privacy.
  7. Maintain a respectful and sincere tone: Use simple, heartfelt language in the letter. Avoid clichés or overly sentimental expressions that might sound insincere.

Here’s an example that follows these tips;

“Dear [Name],

I was really sad to hear about [name of deceased]. They were a [positive quality], and I have fond memories of [a specific memory].

Please know that you’re in my thoughts, and I’m here for you in any way I can be. Whether you need someone to talk to, help with errands, or just a shoulder to cry on, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

With deepest sympathy,

[Your Name]”

Remember, being genuine and sincere is the most important thing in offering condolences.

Should a condolence letter be handwritten or typed

Expressing condolences can be done through both handwritten and typed letters, but each has its advantages and drawbacks. Handwritten notes are often seen as more personal and traditional, carrying a stronger emotional impact. Here’s a breakdown;



  1. Personal touch: Shows extra thought and care.
  2. Warmer and sincere: Convey’s humanity and emotion.
  3. Keepsake value: Can become a cherished memento.


  1. May take longer: Writing by hand requires more time and effort.
  2. Legibility concerns: If handwriting is hard to read, it might not be the best choice.
  3. May not be accessible for everyone: People with disabilities may find writing challenging.



  1. Clear and easy to read: Ensures clarity, especially if handwriting isn’t neat.
  2. More convenient: Quicker and easier, especially for multiple letters.
  3. Accessible for everyone: Allows everyone to express condolences, regardless of physical limitations.


  1. Can feel impersonal: May lack the warmth of a handwritten note.
  2. Less keepsake value: Feels less personal and may not be treasured as much.

The decision depends on your preference, your relationship with the recipient, and the situation. Consider the following;

  • Your relationship: A handwritten note may be more meaningful for a close relationship.
  • Your handwriting: If it’s neat, it might be more appropriate to handwrite.
  • Recipient’s preferences: If they prefer typed communication, that might be the better option.

What are the common elements to include in a letter of condolence

To write a caring condolence letter, include these important points to show sympathy and offer help;

Expressing Sympathy: Start by directly acknowledging the loss to show you’re genuinely sorry. For example:

    • “I felt really sad to hear about [name]’s passing.”
    • “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
    • “My heart goes out to you during this tough time.”

Personalization: If you knew the person who passed away, share a positive memory or something you admired about them. This lets the recipient know you care too. For instance:

  • “I fondly remember how [name] always had a kind word and a smile for everyone.”

Acknowledging Emotions: Let them know you understand it’s a tough time and validate their feelings. You could say;

    • “I can imagine how much pain you must be feeling right now.”
    • “It’s okay to feel sad, angry, or confused during this time.”

Offer of Support: Instead of generic offers, be specific and genuine. Offer practical help like;

    • “If you need anything, I’m here. I can [offer specific help, like running errands or picking up groceries].”
    • “I’m always here to listen if you need someone to talk to.”
    • Be sincere and ready to help if they accept.

Closing and Signature: End the letter with a closing phrase expressing sympathy and support. For example;

    • “With deepest sympathy,”
    • “Thinking of you during this tough time,”
    • “Sending you love and strength.”
    • Sign your name warmly or with love.

Writing with these elements shows you care and are ready to offer real support during a difficult time.

How can you personalize a condolence letter to make it more meaningful

Making a condolence letter personal means going beyond a standard message and creating a heartfelt note that truly connects with the person who receives it. Here are ways to add a personal touch;

  1. Share a specific memory: If you knew the person who passed away, tell a specific story or memory that shows their good qualities. This can bring a moment of happiness to the person receiving the letter, reminding them of the joy their loved one brought.
  2. Mention shared interests or experiences: If you and the person receiving the letter had a connection with the one who passed away through hobbies or shared experiences, talk about it. This can make them feel understood and strengthen the emotional impact of your message.
  3. Acknowledge their specific relationship: Recognize the unique bond between the person receiving the letter and the one who passed away. Whether they were close siblings, best friends, or a beloved parent, acknowledging this shows you understand their pain.
  4. Offer specific support: Instead of general offers, think about their situation and suggest specific ways you can help. It could be going with them to services, assisting with childcare, or being available for a phone call when they need it.
  5. Use a nickname or term of endearment: If it’s appropriate, use a special nickname or term of endearment that the person who passed away was known by. Be sure it won’t be seen as disrespectful or hurtful.
  6. Express admiration for their strength: Let them know you admire their strength and resilience during this tough time. This small gesture can acknowledge their emotional struggles and encourage them.
  7. Highlight positive qualities of the deceased: Mention specific positive qualities or contributions of the person who passed away that the recipient would appreciate being reminded of. This can bring comfort and focus on the good memories.
  8. End with a personalized closing: Instead of a standard closing, use a phrase that reflects your unique relationship with the person receiving the letter or the one who passed away. It could be a shared joke, a favorite saying, or just a heartfelt sentiment.

Is it appropriate to share specific memories or anecdotes in a condolence letter

Including specific memories or stories in a condolence letter can be a good idea, but it’s important to be careful and respectful of the recipient’s feelings. Here’s why;


  1. Personalizes the message: Sharing a special memory shows that you care about the person who passed away.
  2. Offers comfort: Reminding the person of positive experiences can bring a moment of happiness during a tough time.
  3. Strengthens the bond: Sharing personal stories can make the emotional connection with the recipient stronger.

Things to consider before sharing

  1. Relationship with the deceased: If you don’t know the person well, it’s usually better not to share personal stories.
  2. Content of the memory: Choose a positive and uplifting memory, avoiding anything that might be upsetting.
  3. Focus on the recipient: Make sure the memory relates to the person receiving the letter and their connection to the one who passed away.

Examples of appropriate ways to share memories

  1. Positive and lighthearted: “I fondly remember how [name] always made everyone laugh. They will be dearly missed.”
  2. Highlighting a shared interest: “I know how much [name] loved [shared interest]. I remember we both enjoyed [specific memory related to the interest] together.”
  3. Focusing on the recipient’s connection: “I know [name] meant a lot to you, and I can only imagine how much you’ll miss their [positive quality].”

Key points

  1. Err on the side of caution: If you’re not sure if a memory is appropriate, it’s better to leave it out.
  2. Focus on bringing comfort: The main goal is to offer support and comfort, not to dwell too much on the past.
  3. Read the letter carefully before sending it: Make sure it expresses sympathy and support respectfully and sensitively.

What length is suitable for a condolence letter, and how detailed should it be

There’s no strict rule for the “perfect” length of a condolence letter. It depends on your relationship with the person receiving the letter and the one who passed away, as well as how much you’re comfortable sharing. However, here’s a general guide;

Short but heartfelt

  • Aim for a length that feels sincere and effectively conveys your condolences.
  • A paragraph or two is often enough for most situations, especially if you don’t know the person who passed away well.

Longer, more detailed

  • If you had a close relationship with the person who passed away or the recipient, you might choose to write a longer letter, up to a page, sharing more specific memories.


  • Quality is more important than quantity. Focus on genuinely expressing condolences and offering support, not on reaching a specific word count.
  • Respect the recipient’s preferences; if they prefer shorter messages, keep them brief.
  • Make your letter readable by avoiding overly long paragraphs.

Here’s a helpful analogy

Think of your condolence letter like a flower. A single, beautiful blossom can convey just as much sympathy and support as a large bouquet, as long as it’s presented with genuine care.

Regarding details

  • Focus on expressing sympathy and offering support; this is more important than providing extensive details.
  • Choose details that are relevant and comforting, focusing on positive and uplifting memories.
  • Avoid dwelling on negative details, as this could be insensitive and make the recipient’s grief worse.

Should a condolence letter include religious or spiritual sentiments

Including religious or spiritual sentiments in a condolence letter can be appropriate, but it’s essential to be sensitive and respectful of the recipient’s beliefs. Here’s why;


  1. Offers comfort for believers: Religious or spiritual references can bring comfort and a sense of peace to those who find solace in their faith during difficult times.
  2. Strengthens bond with religious recipients: Sharing your beliefs can strengthen the connection, especially if you and the recipient follow the same faith tradition, providing a sense of support.

Cautions to consider

  1. Unsure of recipient’s beliefs: If you’re not sure about the person’s religious or spiritual practices, it’s usually better to avoid using religious language.
  2. Respectful and inclusive: If you choose to include such references, make sure they are respectful and inclusive, avoiding language that might be seen as exclusive or offensive to other faith traditions.
  3. Focus on offering support: The main goal is to express condolences and offer support, not to promote religious beliefs.

Examples of respectful inclusions

  1. General references: Phrases like “May they rest in peace” or “May their memory be a blessing” are generally considered respectful and inclusive.
  2. Shared faith: If you share the same faith, you might say something like “I will keep you in my prayers” or “May God grant you strength during this difficult time.”
  3. Acknowledge their faith: You can recognize their faith without specific references, such as “I know your faith is a source of strength for you, and I hope it brings you comfort.”


When in doubt, it’s best to be cautious and avoid anything that could be seen as insensitive or disrespectful. The primary focus should be on expressing sincere condolences and offering support, regardless of specific religious or spiritual beliefs.

How do you express condolences in a professional setting, such as in a business context

Offering condolences in a work setting requires a different approach than in personal situations, but it’s still important to be genuine and respectful. Here are some guidelines to follow;

Acknowledge the loss: Begin by directly recognizing the loss. For instance:

    • “I heard about the passing of [name], and I’m truly sorry for your loss.”
    • “Please accept my sincere condolences.”

Keep it concise and focused: In a professional setting, keep your message brief and respectful. Avoid going into personal details or sharing long stories.

Focus on the recipient: Center your message on the person and their feelings. Recognize their grief and show empathy.

    • “I can only imagine how difficult this is for you.”
    • “My thoughts are with you during this tough time.”

Offer support: If your relationship allows, offer specific help with caution and respect for professional boundaries.

  • “If there’s anything I can do to assist, please don’t hesitate to ask.” (Only offer if you genuinely mean it.)

Maintain a professional tone: While being sincere, use a respectful and professional tone. Avoid overly casual language or humor.

Examples of professional condolences

To a colleague

“Dear [Colleague’s name],

I heard about the passing of your [relation to colleague]. Please accept my sincere condolences. My thoughts are with you during this difficult time.”

To a client

“Dear [Client’s name],

I’m sorry to learn about the recent loss of [relation to client]. Please accept our deepest sympathies from the entire team at [Company name]. We understand this is a challenging time for you, and our thoughts are with you.”

Are there cultural considerations to keep in mind when writing a letter of condolence

Yes, when writing a condolence letter, it’s important to consider cultural differences, as customs and practices related to death and grief can vary widely across cultures. Here are some key points to keep in mind;

1. Expressions of Sympathy

  • Language and phrases: The way people express greetings, condolences, and well wishes may differ in various languages and cultures.
  • Non-verbal communication: Consider cultural norms about physical touch, gestures, and appropriate attire when offering condolences in person.

2. Timing and Etiquette

  • Timing of condolences: Some cultures prioritize immediate expressions of condolences, while others respect the family’s need for privacy in the initial days after the loss.
  • Gift-giving: Certain cultures may find gifts like flowers or food customary, while others may see them as unnecessary or inappropriate. It’s wise to research or discreetly inquire about expectations if unsure.

3. Religious and Spiritual Beliefs

  • Be mindful of the recipient’s faith and beliefs. If uncertain, avoid using religious references that might be insensitive.
  • If you share the same faith, express shared beliefs respectfully and inclusively.

4. Cultural Practices

  • Be aware of any specific rituals or practices observed by the deceased’s cultural group.
  • Avoid making assumptions or judgments about their customs and offer support without interfering with their cultural practices related to grief and mourning.

Resources for Learning More

  • Online resources: Cultural information websites and embassy websites of the deceased’s country of origin.
  • Community leaders or religious figures: Seek guidance from individuals familiar with the specific cultural practices, approaching them with respect and sensitivity.

Should a condolence letter be sent by mail, email, or delivered in person

There isn’t one “best” way to send a condolence letter, and the preferred method depends on a few factors;

1. Your Relationship with the Recipient

  • Close relationship: If you’re very close, delivering the letter in person could be the most personal and meaningful way.
  • Less close relationship: For less close relationships, sending a handwritten letter or a well-crafted email can be appropriate.

2. Urgency and Timing

  • Urgent situations: If you need to offer immediate condolences, like in a sudden loss, a heartfelt email might be the quickest way.
  • More time available: If there’s more flexibility, a handwritten letter or a personal phone call might be more fitting.

3. Recipient’s Preferences

  • Knowing preferences: If you know how the recipient prefers communication (email, mail, etc.), respect their wishes.
  • Unsure of preferences: If unsure, a handwritten letter or in-person delivery generally adds a more personal touch unless the person usually prefers email.

Summary of Delivery Methods

  • Handwritten letter: This is the most traditional and personal option, showing extra effort and care.
  • Email: A quick and convenient option, especially for long distances or urgent situations.
  • In-person delivery: Especially meaningful for close relationships, but it requires being mindful of the recipient’s privacy and availability.
  • Phone call: A personal way to connect and offer immediate support, but might not be as suitable for lengthy messages.

How soon after a loss should a condolence letter be sent

It’s usually a good idea to send a condolence letter within two weeks of hearing about the loss. However, there’s no strict rule for the “perfect” timing, and it’s completely okay to send condolences later than two weeks. Here’s a breakdown;


  • Within two weeks: Sending the letter within this timeframe shows that you are thinking of the recipient during the early days of their grief.


  • Later than two weeks: Life circumstances might cause a delay, and it’s never too late to express your condolences.
  • Even months later: The recipient might still appreciate your kind words long after the initial loss.


  • Urgency of the situation: If the loss was sudden, sending the letter sooner shows immediate support.
  • Your relationship with the recipient: For closer relationships, a quicker response might be more suitable.
  • Cultural considerations: Some cultures have specific timelines for offering condolences. Research or discreetly inquire if unsure.


  • Regardless of the timing, the most crucial thing is to be sincere and understanding in your message.
  • Focus on offering support and expressing condolences respectfully, even if it’s months after the loss.
  • It’s always better to send a heartfelt message later than not at all.

Additional Points

  • If unsure about when to send the letter, it’s better to send it sooner rather than later.
  • Avoid sending the letter right after the loss when the recipient might be overwhelmed with funeral arrangements and grief.
  • If sending a handwritten letter, consider allowing extra time for postal delivery.

How can you offer practical assistance or support in a condolence letter

The main goal of a condolence letter is to express sympathy, but offering practical help can show genuine support and ease the burden for the recipient during a tough period. Here’s how to effectively offer practical assistance in your letter;

1. Be Specific: Instead of generic offers like “Let me know if you need anything,” suggest specific ways you can help. Tailor your offer to the recipient’s situation.


    • “Would you like me to help with [a specific task, like picking up groceries, running errands, or preparing meals]?”
    • “I’m available to assist with [a specific task, such as childcare, transportation, or housecleaning] if that would be helpful.”
    • “If you need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to reach out.”

2. Be Genuine and Prepared to Follow Through: Only offer what you genuinely mean and can do. Avoid overcommitting to prevent disappointment if you’re unable to fulfill your promise.

3. Be Respectful of Privacy and Boundaries

  • While offering help, be considerate of the recipient’s privacy and emotional state.
  • Avoid being intrusive or overwhelming.
  • Phrase your offer delicately, making it clear they can decline your help if needed.

4. Consider Their Needs: If you knew the deceased well, think about their role in the household and offer to help with specific tasks they might have handled.


    • Offering to help with yard work if the deceased was responsible for it.
    • Picking up prescriptions or handling paperwork if needed.

5. Offer Emotional Support

  • Remember, while practical assistance is valuable, emotional support is equally important.
  • Combine your offer of help with expressions of sympathy and empathy.
  • Let them know you are there for them, even if it’s just to listen or offer a shoulder to cry on.


“Dear [Name],

I am really sorry to learn about the demise of [name of deceased]. Please accept my sincerest condolences.

I know this is an incredibly difficult time for you, and I want you to know that I’m here for you in any way I can be. If you need help with errands, meals, or simply someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m available to [offer specific help, e.g., run errands, provide emotional support].

My thoughts are with you during this difficult time.

With deepest sympathy,

[Your Name]”

Is it appropriate to mention the cause of death in a condolence letter

It’s advisable to avoid mentioning the cause of death in a condolence letter. Here’s why;

Focus on Empathy: The main purpose of the letter is to express sympathy and offer support, not to dwell on the details of the loss.

Sensitivity: You may not be aware of the recipient’s feelings about the cause of death, making it a potentially sensitive topic they’d rather not discuss.

Privacy: The cause of death might be a private matter for the family.


  • Acknowledge the loss without going into specific details, saying something like, “I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of [name].”
  • Optionally, focus on positive memories if appropriate.
  • Express empathy by acknowledging the recipient’s pain with a phrase like, “I know this must be a difficult time for you.”


  • In rare cases, mentioning the cause of death might be appropriate if you know the recipient well and are certain they’d be comfortable discussing it.
  • If the cause of death was a positive event (e.g., passing peacefully in sleep) or if you’re offering specific support related to the cause, it might be acceptable.

When Unsure

  • Err on the side of caution and avoid mentioning the cause of death.


  • Instead of saying, “I can’t believe they died of [cause of death],” try expressing, “I was so sorry to hear about your loss.”
  • Instead of saying, “At least they are no longer suffering,” (which might not be comforting if the cause of death was a long illness), try expressing, “They will be dearly missed.”

Should a condolence letter be formal or informal, depending on the relationship with the recipient

The tone and formality level of a condolence letter can be adjusted based on your relationship with the recipient, but it’s essential to always maintain a respectful and sincere tone. Here’s how to adjust the level of formality;

Close Relationships

  • Use more informal language if you were close friends, family, or colleagues with the deceased and the recipient.
  • It’s appropriate to share specific memories and anecdotes in close relationships.

Example: “Dear [First name], I was heartbroken to hear about [name of deceased]. They were like a [relationship to you] to me, and I’ll never forget [specific memory].”

Less Close Relationships

  • Employ a more formal tone if you had a less close relationship with the deceased or the recipient.
  • Focus primarily on expressing condolences and offering support.

Example: “Dear [Last name], Please accept my deepest condolences on the passing of [name of deceased].”

Regardless of the Relationship

  • Maintain respect and sincerity to convey genuine empathy for the recipient’s grief.
  • Avoid overly casual language, even in close relationships, to prevent coming across as insensitive.
  • Use professional courtesy in professional settings, maintaining a professional tone while expressing sincere condolences.

Additional Tips

  • Use the recipient’s preferred name, whether it’s their first name, last name, or a title (e.g., Mr., Ms., Dr.).
  • Proofread your letter carefully to eliminate typos or grammatical errors.
  • Consider a handwritten note for a more personal gesture, especially in close relationships.

How do you conclude a letter of condolence appropriately

A well-crafted closing in a condolence letter conveys your continued support and brings the message to a respectful end. Here are some options depending on your relationship with the recipient;

Formal Closings: Suitable for less close relationships or professional settings.


    • “With deepest sympathy,”
    • “Sincerely,”
    • “Respectfully yours,”

Warm Closings: Appropriate for closer relationships.


    • “Thinking of you during this difficult time,”
    • “With heartfelt condolences,”
    • “Sending you love and strength,”

Religious Closings: Use with caution and only if you know the recipient shares your religious beliefs.


    • “May God bless you during this time,”
    • “May they rest in peace,”

Key Points

  • Personalize the closing if possible: Include a phrase that reflects your unique relationship with the recipient or the deceased.
  • Avoid overly sentimental or religious closings if unsure about the recipient’s preferences.
  • End on a positive note: While acknowledging the sadness, you can end with a gentle sentiment offering hope or strength.

Here are some complete examples of concluding a condolence letter:


“With deepest sympathy,”

“[Your Name]”


“Thinking of you during this difficult time,”


“[Your Name]”


“I will always cherish the memories I have of [name of deceased]. May they rest in peace,”

“With love,”

“[Your Name]”

Are there specific phrases or expressions to avoid in a condolence letter

To make sure your condolence letter is genuine and comforting, it’s important to avoid certain phrases and expressions that might seem insensitive or dismissive. Here are some examples;

Clichés and Empty Platitudes

    • Instead of using clichés like “everything happens for a reason” or “they are in a better place now,” opt for sincere expressions that acknowledge the pain.
    • Example: Instead of saying, “They are in a better place now,” you can say, “Their memory will live on in all who knew them.”

Comparisons and Minimizing

    • Avoid making comparisons to other losses or minimizing their grief with phrases like “I know how you feel” or “At least they lived a long life.”
    • Example: Instead of saying, “I know how you feel,” you can say, “There are no words to express the depth of your loss.”

Unsolicited Advice or Religious References

    • Unless you’re sure of the recipient’s beliefs, refrain from offering unsolicited advice or using strong religious references that might not provide comfort.
    • Example: Instead of offering advice, you can simply say, “This is a difficult time, and my thoughts are with you.”

Focusing on the Deceased’s Death

    • While acknowledging the loss is necessary, avoid dwelling on sensitive details of their death. Focus on offering support and expressing sympathy.
    • Example: Instead of discussing the details of their death, you can say, “I’m here for you if you need someone to talk to.”

Overly Personal Inquiries or Intrusive Comments

    • Refrain from asking intrusive questions about the deceased’s illness or funeral arrangements unless the recipient shares such details themselves.
    • Example: Instead of asking about details, you can say, “I’m here to support you in any way you need.”

Remember, using sincere and thoughtful expressions is key to offering comfort and support in a condolence letter.

How can you offer comfort and encouragement without minimizing the grief in a condolence letter

Here are some ways to offer comfort and encouragement in a condolence letter without minimizing the recipient’s grief;

Acknowledge their pain and validate their emotions

    • Start by expressing condolences directly, like “I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of [name].”
    • Use phrases that validate their emotions, such as “I know this must be an incredibly difficult time for you” or “It’s okay to feel sad, angry, or confused during this time.”

Offer specific support without making promises

    • Don’t say “Let me know if you need anything.”
    • Suggest specific ways to help, considering their situation, and avoid making promises like “Don’t worry, things will be okay eventually.”

Share positive memories, but avoid minimizing the loss

    • Share a positive memory about the deceased if appropriate.
    • Ensure the memory focuses on the positive aspects without replacing the recipient’s grief.

Offer hope for the future without diminishing the present

    • Express belief in their strength and healing over time.
    • Use phrases like “You will get through this, one day at a time” or “They will be dearly missed, but their memory will always be cherished.”
    • Avoid suggesting they should “move on” or forget too soon.

Express empathy and offer your presence

    • Confirm that you’re there for them and recognize their pain.

Should you follow up with the bereaved after sending a condolence letter

It’s appropriate to check in with the bereaved after sending a condolence letter, especially after some time has passed. Here’s why;

Benefits of following up

  1. Shows continued support: Following up indicates that you still care and that your support remains ongoing.
  2. Offers an opportunity to connect: It provides a chance to check in and inquire about their well-being without putting any pressure on them.
  3. Respect their privacy: Following up can be done in a non-intrusive manner, allowing them space if they’re not ready to talk.

How to follow up appropriately

  1. Timing: Wait a few weeks after sending the condolence letter to respect their privacy in the initial stages of grief.
  2. Method: Choose a suitable method (phone call, email, or handwritten note) based on your relationship with the recipient and their preferences.
  3. Message: Keep it simple and sincere. Briefly acknowledge their loss and express your ongoing support.

Phrases to use

  • “I just wanted to check in and see how you’re doing.”
  • “My thoughts are still with you during this difficult time.”
  • “Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything at all.”

Respect their boundaries

If they seem overwhelmed or not ready to talk, respect their space, and offer another opportunity to connect later.

Example of a follow-up message

“Dear [Name],

I just wanted to know how you’re doing. Please know that my thoughts are still with you during this difficult time.

If you require anything, please feel free to contact me.

With continued sympathy,”

[Your Name]"


When it comes to conveying your deepest sympathies, the key point to note is to speak honestly. Take a couple of minutes before you start constructing to consider who you are writing about. If you did not know the deceased, consider how their family members talked about them. Think properly you appreciated them or the positive deeds you learned about them. If you knew them, try to communicate a fond memory or moment with them that their loved one may not be aware of. Whatever you write, make sure to share it with sincerity and care. Finally, you would like to bring solace to the grieving families. Being gentle to their loved ones is the most effective way to accomplish that objective.