A Condolence Letter is an informal letter aimed to express your sympathy towards an acquaintance who has lost their loved one as a way of comforting them for their loss.
It may be hard to find the right words to say or write when an acquaintance loses their loved one. That is why it is essential to know what a condolence letter is and how you can write it.
In case you know the acquaintance’s loved one, then writing this letter would be simple. This is because you will be able to write the letter from the experience you shared with them. However, if you do not know their loved one, it is still appropriate to find a way and add a personal touch in the letter to show sympathy.
A condolence letter entails having a written message for your acquaintance, and this is what a written message does:
- Indicates that you have recognized the loss your acquaintance is experiencing
- Honors and respects the deceased person
- Acknowledges your acquaintance’s grief as valid
Samples & Examples
Reasons to Write a Condolence Letter
There are reasons why you should write a condolence letter to an acquaintance that has lost their loved one.
Here are three crucial reasons for you to write a condolence letter.
To offer them help
Your acquaintance is experiencing loss and might need help with lots of different things. Offering them help, like bringing food to them, is a way of being empathetic and polite. It would be best if you were specific about your help to make your letter more personalized.
To remain in contact
Choosing to write a condolence letter will make you remember that you need to remain in contact with your acquaintance and to let them know that you are there for them by continuing to be in contact. You should mark your calendar to remind yourself to reach out to your acquaintance after a while.
This can be done after either 3 or 6 months. People grieve differently; that means, having someone to comfort them even after all the friends and family are back to live their lives is helpful and an important reason for writing a condolence letter.
To comfort them
A condolence letter is an appropriate way of showing your concern, especially if you were close to the deceased person. Your acquaintance will be comforted by the thoughts of your concern, care, and sympathy.
Note: If you are not closely related or properly acquainted with the person you are writing a condolence letter to, it is best to avoid writing the letter as it will not help to comfort them or display your concern and care.
Condolence Letter Vs a Sympathy Note
Although both a condolence letter and sympathy note aim to show concern and care towards your acquaintance who has just lost their loved one(s), however, these two are different. A condolence letter is longer than a sympathy note.
A condolence letter includes about two paragraphs, while a sympathy note includes a few sentences. Also, you can choose to include a sympathy note when sending a condolence letter.
Note: It is vital to write a condolence letter but not immediately after the loss. It is also essential for you to send a sympathy note a few months down the line to check on your acquaintance’s welfare.
When, Where and How to Use a Condolence Letter
The answer to the when, where, and how to properly use a condolence letter;
consider the following:
As mentioned, sending your condolence letter immediately after the loss does not sound or seem sincere. Being late is also not an option. It is best to send the condolence letter within the first two weeks of the loss. If you are late, you need to send them a note to indicate your concern and sympathy. The best thing is to ensure that you reach out to your acquaintance, even though you might be late.
It is also necessary to understand where to deliver the condolence letter after writing it. For example, you can drop your condolence letter during the funeral services. Most services have a basket or collection box for this purpose.
You can also choose to mail your condolence letter. However, keep in mind that they may not open the mail soon and discover your letter later while encompassed by the deceased loss, sadness, and exercises.
Your condolence letter should be handwritten on paper using a nice pen instead of typed as it would seem uncaring. It is also appropriate to write your message on a card by hand. The letter should sound sympathetic, and this can be achieved by writing the same way you usually talk.
Consider the recipient’s emotions and express your feelings without being too fancy, like writing a poem or a song verse.
Writing a Condolence Letter
Writing a sincere and sympathetic condolence letter to your acquaintance who has lost their loved one(s) can be challenging.
However, here is a guide on how you can craft and write such a condolence letter :
Acknowledge loss/refer the deceased by name
When writing a condolence letter, it is not a good idea to avoid the subject of death due to discomfort. You need to mention the loss openly and address the deceased by their name to personalize the letter. It is also not a good idea to use euphemism when addressing the loss your acquaintance is experiencing.
I am sorry to hear about the death of Albert.
It would be best to express your sympathy intensely as that is the main aim of writing the letter. Express your sympathy towards their loss as a way of comforting them.
I cannot imagine what you are going through, but I am always here for you.
Mention the deceased in specific terms
When addressing the deceased, you should highlight their attributes and positive traits. This kind of information should be provided in detail as it helps to comfort the family.
Albert was outgoing and creative, which made him friendly with many people.
Include a favorite memory
If you know the deceased person, you can also add a favorite memory that you share with them to bring positivity to the grieving family.
I remember how Albert and I met at the fishing camp back in 2011. He was polite and friendly towards me.
Remind the bereaved of their loved one’s strength
In your condolence letter, you also need to remind the bereaved about their loved one’s strength while they were alive. This will help ease your acquaintance’s pain by giving them something positive to think about.
Albert was a selfless person who constantly aimed to bring out the good in people.
Offer help to the bereaved
Your letter should also include your offer to help and comfort them through the hard time they are experiencing. You should not use the general statement, “Please let me know if you need anything.” Try to be more specific about the kind of help you are offering the bereaved.
I am here if you need any help with organizing the wake. In addition, I can help with the guests or any other funeral preparations.
This way, they will not be uncomfortable in case they need help from you and they will not reach out for something that you cannot accomplish.
Close with thoughtful hope or wish
You should end the letter with a thoughtful statement before signing off. Try to end your letter in a way that signifies more involvement in their life. This can be achieved by avoiding using the ordinary words sign off like ‘sincerely’ instead of using thoughtful hopes or wishes such as “Always in my thoughts and prayers.” Such expressions are personal and thoughtful.
Using a Condolence Letter Sample
Through the procedure of writing a condolence letter, a condolence letter sample is necessary to guide for writing. The sample will provide you with the information and examples you need to craft an appropriate and sincere condolence letter. In addition, you will be more comfortable about your letter being comforting and not offensive, if you have a sample that provides you with the knowledge you need to write it.
Condolence letter sample
Dear Robin Dexter,
I am truly sorry to hear about the loss of Becky. I cannot imagine your pain but keep in mind that I am always here for you.
Your sister was a polite and generous soul and will deeply be missed by all of us. Her selfless nature made her loveable and respectable by many.
I still remember how I met Becky at the charity gallery show as she championed for the event to collect funds to help people with cancer. Her nature was what drew me towards her, and she will forever be missed.
You two were very close and the pain you must be experiencing is just beyond imagination. I have no doubt that her death has taken a toll on you and your family. You are a strong person who always sees the best in people.
Perhaps you could use me to help with serving food to the guests who are attending your sister’s burial. I am here to help you out if you need me.
You are in my thoughts and prayers.
I wish you peace,
Condolence Letter Template
Given below is a template for your better understanding:
Dear (Acquaintance’s Name),
I was deeply sorry to hear about the loss of (Name of their deceased loved one).
I cannot imagine the pain that you must be experiencing but always remember that I am here for you. (Add more information expressing your sympathy).
Your (name of the deceased or title like a brother, father, or aunt) was a great and kind person. (Add more information about the deceased person’s attributes and qualities).
I still remember how (Add your favorite memory about the deceased individual)
Your bond with (name or title of the deceased) will never end. You are a strong person who (Mention the strengths of your acquaintance or the bereaved).
In case you need help with (Offer specific help).
I am always here for you, you can always trust that. (End with a thoughtful expression).
Tips for Writing a Condolence Letter
These tips will ensure that you write an appropriate and sympathetic condolence letter; hence, reducing the chances of offending your acquaintance during the sad time.
Following are some tips that you can observe when writing a condolence letter:
Choose a handwritten letter or a text message
Before crafting the letter, you need to decide between either a handwritten letter or a text message. A handwritten letter may be a beautiful gesture but slow when it comes to reaching them; on the other hand, a text message may be a faster way of delivering the information but will not display much concern and care.
You should send them both a handwritten letter and a text message. A text message or email should be simple, indicate your condolence and request their mailing address. A handwritten letter can be accompanied by flowers later. It is an excellent way of showing sympathy since it implies a human touch which is necessary during loss and grief.
Keep your note brief and short
Even though you look sympathetic, your acquaintance’s emotional state does not allow them to read a very long letter.
It is best to keep your note brief and short. Write about two paragraphs and send the letter within two weeks of the loss. Your acquaintance will appreciate a short letter that highlights your care, concern, and sympathy. Always ensure that you send them a follow-up note afterward.
Remain straightforward but restrained
When expressing your condolences, it is best to be straightforward but restrained. Do not be dramatic with the words you use. You can write, “I am sorry for your loss,” instead of, “I am devastated by your loss.” It is also best to avoid expressing your emotions more than the acquaintance and their family experiencing the loss, even if you know the deceased person. Being simple is better and more genuine and sympathetic.
Speak from heart
Sharing your condolence message should be done in a manner that shows that you are speaking from the heart. The whole idea is to personalize the condolence letter in a way that communicates your genuine emotions. This can be done by mentioning the deceased name when writing the letter and offering the bereaved the specific type of help through that difficult time.
Mention the deceased’s qualities
When writing a condolence letter, another tip you should observe is highlighting the deceased person’s qualities to indicate honesty and care. Your letter should include positive qualities and attributes you know or heard about the deceased.
You can mention that the deceased was talented in a particular area.
This is a way of being supportive and showing you care about your friend who is going through a loss. Honesty about your condolence will also be displayed by sharing beautiful memories with your grieving friend or acquaintance about the deceased.
- A condolence letter is crucial as it shows your concern and care by expressing your sympathy towards your acquaintance who has lost their loved ones.
- Sending a condolence letter to your acquaintance is the best way to offer them help, to keep in touch with them, and to comfort them.
- It is best to avoid sending the letter immediately or way later after the loss has happened. Instead, send the letter within two weeks of the loss.
- Following the procedure and tips of writing a condolence letter will help you craft an appropriate condolence letter to comfort your acquaintance during their grief.