How do you write a condolence card?

How do you write a condolence card?

After a lifetime of writing and receiving condolence notes, I’ve noticed a pattern in them. It comforts me to know that by using this template, I won’t ever add to my friend’s pain at her time of loss, because helping her feel loved and supported is the main goal.

Many of the notes I send or have received consist of five, simple parts:

SalutationDear __________,

 1. I’m/We’re so sorry to hear of ___________ passing/dying/transitioning.

2a. (If you knew the person who died.) I/We always loved _____________.

2b. (If you didn’t know the person who died.) I/We know how much you loved _____________.

3+. (If you have a story to share about the person who died, share it here. Something that I would caution you to never write, though, is an embarrassing story about the deceased that your friend may or may not be familiar with. If you have an entertaining, but possibly edgy story that you’d like to share, do it on the phone or in person where you can decide if proceeding is a good idea based on your friend’s reaction. You don’t want to add to her misery by tarnishing the memory of her loved one.) I remember when…

4. I/We hope you have loved ones around you for support through this challenging time.

5. I/We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

SignatureLove/Your Friend/Sincerely/With Sympathy, _____________

This pattern can be overlaid to use for corporate condolence cards.

Obviously, the better you know someone, the more you can add or share.

If you’d like more specific suggestions and ideas, here is a great article by Keely Chace at Hallmark:

If you feel like you need to write something long in order to show the depth of your love, believe me, sometimes short and to the point is exactly what a grieving person needs. The more you know that your friends are around you, the better loved and supported you feel.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Narve

    Simply, adding a gift certificate or meal delivery can be immensely helpful. You could in a few minutes send a Seamless gift card. Here are few other ideas of simple items that can be used to create a custom sympathy basket. Diane P. Brennan, grief counselor at Life Loss Mental Health Counseling says these “gifts of time” are ideal for “giving the person time to do the things that they need to do to support their grief.” There are often responsibilities that come with the death of a family member, like settling their estate or cleaning out their home. These practical things can seem overwhelming to the bereaved.

  2. Darrance

    Much of the difficulty in writing words of condolence is the fear of unwittingly saying something wrong, careless, or possibly even hurtful. Grief is powerful, heavy, complex but also delicate and unique to each individual. That is why the words you choose to put in your card are so important.

    1. Kirsten Fox

      Well said, Darrance. Totally agree with your assessment. Thanks for getting involved in the discussion. ~Kirsten Fox

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