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How to Write a Letter Of Condolence

Too personal to follow a formula, intimate letters of condolence must come from the heart. Here are some tips to consider when writing them.


  • Step 1: Send a handwritten letter Follow up any earlier e-mail or telephone expressions of sympathy with handwritten correspondence.
  • Step 2: Address the letter appropriately Address the letter to the closest relative if you knew the deceased or to the relative to whom you are closest if you did not.
  • Step 3: Express your feelings Put your feelings on paper. Be sincere. Flowery language in itself is of little value.
  • Step 4: Share a memory Share a fond memory of the deceased when you begin the letter. Rather than saying you know how the surviving relative feels, simply say that you are thinking of that person.
  • TIP: Be honest. Don’t try to make the deceased sound like a better person than they actually were.
  • Step 5: Express your sorrow Express your sorrow at the person’s loss rather than saying that the deceased is now in a better place. Avoid cliche phrases such as "time will heal all wounds."
  • Step 6: Avoid the cause of death Avoid dwelling on the details of the illness or cause of death.
  • TIP: Offer assistance only if you were close to the deceased and you know the deceased’s close family needs help.
  • Step 7: Send the letter promptly Send the letter within one week of the death. And remember, the worst condolence letter is the one that is never written.
  • FACT: Did you know? The word condolence comes from Latin, meaning to suffer together.

You Will Need

  • A pen
  • Stationery
  • Sincerity
  • Promptness

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