Grieving From Afar: How to Write a Heartfelt Condolence Letter

It is terrible when death sneaks up on a friend, family member, or even office mate. The loved ones left behind will certainly feel grief and insurmountable pain. This is a feeling that most people understand because, though dying is a tragedy, it is a normal part of the life cycle. As a good friend, you want to do your best and be there for the bereaved. 

But what are the right words to say when someone passes away? Whether you’re attending the funeral home cremation services or condoling from thousands of miles away, a condolence letter is an excellent gesture. It shows the grieving family that you acknowledge their loss, empathize with their pain and keep them in your thoughts. 

Though the right words may be hard to find, a heartfelt effort is always appreciated. Penning your thoughts into a few simple sentences for someone who lost their beloved is better than silence. Need help drafting your condolence letter? Keep on reading for inspirational ideas.  


Reasons You Ought to Send a Condolence Letter 

A letter expressing your condolences is more than a simple sympathy card. Though they may covey the same sentiments, a letter is usually longer. As such, it also provides a little more sentimental value. Though you may not be the best writer, expressing your sincerest sympathies provides those who are mourning a measure of comfort in the midst of trying times. Sending a letter exhibits that your thoughts are with the family. 

Instead of buying a Hallmark mass-produced card at your local bookstore, a condolence letter written with your hands adds a personal touch. Your penmanship shows that you are heartfelt in your desire to express your sorrows for the passing of the deceased. 

Besides, bereaved family members appreciate these thoughtful gestures as your personal words carry more weight unlike a generic card with typical funeral poems. When you take the time to write things down, you show how important they are to you. 


Details You Can Include in Your Letter 

Keep in mind, you must write your letter as soon as you hear the news. You can mail it with funeral flowers if you’re far away. Alternatively, you can hand-deliver it to the family with a tribute like a mass card or small monetary assistance. The key to a good letter is writing from the heart. Nothing can go wrong when you stick with this rule. You can include the following:

1. Acknowledgement of the Deceased

In the opening lines, you must acknowledge the death of the person. Refer to the deceased by name and make sure you get the spelling right. You don’t have to pay attention to the cause of death. A simple acknowledgement of the passing will suffice

2. Express Heartfelt Sympathies

Convey your sorrow for their sufferings. You can start with: “I’m so sorry for your loss.” You can also try something longer like: “I can only imagine the pain in your heart, but I want you to know you are in my thoughts and prayers during these difficult times.”

These lines may be simple and commonly used, but it effectively shows that you care about them. These classic words of sympathy offer a great source of comfort for anyone who is mourning the death of a loved one. 

3. Include Personal Details 

You must include personal details to make your condolence letter genuine. You can highlight some of the deceased’s strengths and how these impacted your life. Moreover, you can also share a favorite memory you have with the person, even funny anecdotes. 

However, if you are not close to the deceased but feel close to a family member, you can phrase your letter by saying: “I remember how you always talked about your husband with a smile. I can tell you have a truly great relationship.” 

For best results, focus on retelling how the deceased live a beautiful life instead of merely zeroing in on the death. Your purpose is to honor the memory of the deceased while providing comfort for the ones left behind.

4. Offer Assistance On Practical Tasks

There are certainly a million thoughts going through the mind of the bereaved. From planning the funeral to worrying about insurance matters, they may feel overwhelmed. Instead of asking them “let me know how can I help,” offer concrete assistance on practical matters. 

With this approach, you take away the burden of them asking you to do an errand. Instead, you can write down what you are willing to do like:

  • Offering to cook a meal
  • Picking up drying cleaning
  • Babysitting children
  • Taking out pets
  • Picking up groceries
  • Running other errands

5. Include a Good Ending

The ending of your letter must have a closing line akin to a conclusion for essays. Restate your sympathies and shower them with good intentions. Make sure the last few lines are as meaningful as the rest of the body. Anything that shows your love, care, concern, and support for the recipients is a great closing. 


Every Letter Will Be Different

A heartfelt condolence letter is definitely different from a standard greeting card. Your letter will vary based on the situation. It may be as unique as your relationship with the deceased or the bereaved family member. 

Noteworthy, the key to a good letter is not how flowery your words are or how highfalutin the jargon you use. Instead, a good letter contains loving expressions of sympathies coming from your heart. Though it may seem like a simple gesture, you must remember that soothing words are always appreciated during times of emotional upheaval. Your condolence letter serves as a ray of light and hope during the darkest of times.