Writing a condolence letter is a thoughtful way to show someone you are thinking of them during this difficult time. Condolence letters can vary in length, formality, as well as intimacy level depending on your relationship with the recipient.
Sending a condolence letter is a supportive and caring way to connect with someone who has recently lost a loved one. Whether you are writing a condolence letter on behalf of an organization, to a friend, to a family member, or to a colleague, know that this is an incredibly meaningful action to take that may help the recipient feel less isolated during this painful time.
How to Write a Condolence Letter
When writing a condolence letter, keep in mind:
- Use the deceased individual's preferred name (nickname) if you had a close relationship with them.
- Refer to the deceased individual in a more formal way if you did not know them well.
- Use the deceased individual's preferred gender pronouns if you know them.
- Be respectful in your message and consider how your message will read to the recipient who may have limited context regarding your relationship with the deceased individual.
- Include thoughtful sympathy messages in your letter opening and again in your letter closing.
- Only offer help if you are willing to actually help.
- If possible, hand write your letter- it comes across as more thoughtful.
- Mention thoughtful anecdotes or observations about the deceased individual if possible.
If you do opt to write a condolence letter, be sure to avoid saying anything religious (unless you know for sure the recipient's belief system), and avoid saying you know how they feel. It's also a good idea to not talk about any of your losses or your feelings and really focus solely on the letter recipient's experience.
Condolence Letter to a Friend
Writing a condolence letter to a friend can feel overwhelming, and you may not know how to begin. Using a template can help you get started. Keep in mind that the template for a friend can also work for a family member who you are close with. Sample letter of condolence for a friend:
Formal Condolence Letter
A formal letter of condolence can be sent to someone you don't know well, a colleague, or someone you work for. Sample formal condolence letter:
Sample Condolence Letter From an Organization
A company may opt to send a condolence letter if the deceased individual worked with the company in some way or for the company. Sample condolence letter from an organization:
How to Write a Condolence Letter for Someone You Didn't Know
If you want to write a condolence letter for someone you didn't know, there are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Keep your letter respectful and use the deceased individual's full first name versus nickname.
- Pass along your condolences.
- If you have snippets of information about the relationship between the letter recipient and the deceased individual, you can add it to the letter to personalize it a bit more (for example: I know how much your sister meant to you, or I know that your dad had the most incredible sense of humor).
- Voice your support for the letter recipient.
Letter of Condolence
Writing a letter of condolence is a thoughtful gesture to make when you know someone who has recently lost a loved one. Whether you have a close relationship with the recipient or not, a condolence letter can mean the world to receive during a painful time.