How to Write a Condolence Letter

By: Amanda Winstead

If you want to show someone that you care about their loss, send them a condolence letter. It’s how you can be there for them through this tough ordeal. However, before you start writing, it’s essential to think about the particular situation and what you can say to really make an impact. Below, we’ll discuss a process you can go through to send a thoughtful letter in the best way.

Understand What You’re Going Through

You’re likely writing a condolence letter to someone because the person who passed away was also near and dear to you. With that in mind, it’s essential that you get the right thoughts in order so you can convey the feelings in your heart. So, the first step is to understand your grief. Speak to your family and friends and try to grasp what that person meant to you. 

If you don’t have someone to talk to, you can use online resources, including social media and the metaverse; these types of resources emerged during the pandemic and may be helpful if you are unable to connect with others in your area. The virtual reality experience can be just like meeting in real life. It can do wonders to help you sort through your emotions. To join the metaverse, you’ll need a VR headset and a computer or gaming console, and if you don’t typically use social media, you may need to create an account. Once there, you can log into different programs.

For instance, there are groups there that you can join to talk to people dealing with similar issues, including Death Q&A. This is a place where you can attend each week and talk about grieving and mortality, and seek out other support. 

Considerations Before You Start Writing

Next, think about the medium you’ll use to send the message. Modern technology has become such a major part of our lives that it’s easy to communicate in this way, but a hand-written message is usually perceived as more intimate.

When you send your physical letter, you want it to be legible and well-written. So sit down at a table, find a good pen, and take your time. If you have the option, try to find suitable stationery that will show the recipient that you put a lot of thought into this. There are many different options at a stationary store, including sending the letter on recycled paper. Using it shows that you care about them and the planet, as recycled paper often saves oil, water, and energy. 

Sometimes, you may not know the physical address of the recipient. That’s often in the case of a co-worker or someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. If all you have is an email, they’ll still be touched that you thought of them, and communicating in this way can also be seen as more personal. 

Many condolence messages are sent over Facebook because it is a more common social media platform. If you go this route, avoid addressing the individual in a public post and instead, send them a private message – remember that the grieving process is also a private one. Take time to write out your thoughts and review them before you send them, and remember that the message can be as simple as “Our deepest condolences. We are thinking of you and your family.”

What To Say

Your words will depend on your feelings, and your relationship with the deceased or their loved one. Stay away from asking how the person died. Tell them you’re thinking of them and that you’re there if they ever want to reach out and talk. You may be tempted to offer assistance with whatever they need, but those can be somewhat empty words, especially if the individual is dealing with grief. Instead, say directly how you can provide assistance, such as helping to make funeral arrangements or offering to help them buy groceries or run errands.

It can be tough to find the words when you’re writing to someone who’s lost a friend to suicide, but you can do it with tact. You can ask how the recipient of the letter is coping. This may also be a good time to tell a story about the person who has passed that meant a lot to you. It may bring the reader some joy. End the letter by offering your support.

You may feel the urge to say what’s on your mind, but you must also consider the recipient’s culture. For instance, Catholics may believe that the loved one is going to heaven. In contrast, a Hindu friend may believe in reincarnation, so think about that when you choose your words. Some cultures also have a burial immediately after the death, so you wouldn’t want to ask when the burial will be occurring if you know the letter will arrive days after the fact.

In the end, you write your condolence letter the best you can. Sending multiple pages might be too much, but you don’t want to be too abrupt either, so find a happy medium. Also, if the idea strikes you, you can send flowers or another gift based on how well you know the recipient. No matter how you send the letter, know that the reader will be grateful that you took the time to do so. 

Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. Follow her on Twitter

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