Guidelines For Notes of Condolence

                           girl writing a sympathy letter

Sample letter of sympathy...

It's an easy thing to write a letter of congratulations for a happy event, like a wedding, graduation or birthday. But writing a sympathy letter or note of condolence is totally different!

You probably feel uncomfortable and awkward when faced with a bereaved friend or acquaintance, and just don't know what to say in a letter. So you might just keep putting it off until the proper time to write has elapsed.

Although you might feel relief at not having to deal with the situation, your friend will know that you didn't acknowledge their great loss. They may feel hurt or abandoned, just because you were afraid of saying the wrong thing.

The mere act of writing a sympathy letter, even if it isn't perfect, shows that you care, and can provide more comfort than you realize. The one thing newly bereaved people need more than anything else is the support and understanding of other people. And they can also be disheartened and depressed if they feel abandoned by friends and acquaintances.

You may find an "appropriate" sympathy card to send, but still you are stuck with finding the right message to end it with. If you feel a sympathy card would fit your situation better than a letter, then check out our collection of beautifully crafted sympathy cards.

Actually, writing a letter or note of condolence should be easy if you just speak from your heart and avoid the dreaded "sympathy platitudes". Just write out your genuine thoughts and feelings. You might be able to express what you want in in a few sentences, or it might be appropriate for you to write an entire page in order to lend proper support.



Sample letter of sympathy...

Try to keep it fairly short. Bereaved people are often too distraught to deal with a long narrative.

Try some of the following sentences to see if they "fit":

  • "We were so terribly sorry to hear that Mike has died".
  • "We will miss June very much; she touched our lives".
  • "I am so saddened by the news, I hardly know what to say to you".
  • " He was such a (sweet) (thoughtful) (funny) (creative) person, and we will miss him very much".

Then add a few sentences about times you spent with the deceased, or how you treasured your relationship with them.

You might tell a short story of something that happened or an occasion you shared together that reveals something new about them their loved one might not even know. Exposing some new talent or a thoughtful gesture the deceased made will become a treasured memory for them. It will help promote the healing process.

How to end your letter:

  • "With much love and sympathy for your great loss".
  • "I will call you next week to check on you".
  • "I will check in on you soon to see how I can help".
  • "I will keep you in my prayers" (only if sincere).

                           man writing letter of condolence to his friend



Sample letter of sympathy...

Here is an example of an effective and comforting sympathy letter:

Dear Gary,

Kevin and I were so very saddened and devastated by the news that Susan died last week. I know words cannot really help you right now, but please know how very much we care and feel for you in your loss.

Susan was such a caring and talented person, and she truly touched our lives. I will never forget the trip she and I took to the Grand Canyon. She was so afraid of heights, yet she bravely accompanied me while I hiked the rim of the canyon. She even managed to smile and act like nothing was wrong!

Such a sweet and inspiring soul, I will miss that smile very much. We are so saddened by losing her from our lives.

Please, Gary, let us know if there is any way we can help you and the kids out. Kevin can lend a hand by mowing your grass this Saturday, and I would love to take the kids for an outing sometime next week. We will be in touch by phone soon to see if this would be convenient and helpful for you.

Our love and support will always be here for you in your time of need. Once again, we are so sorry for your loss.

Our love to you and the kids,


As hard as you might find it to write a letter of condolence, please do so. Just give it your best effort. Your friend will appreciate the show of support, even if you didn't use "just the right words". When it comes to expressing sympathy, it truly is "the thought that counts".

Would a sympathy card be more appropriate for your situation? Check out our collection of truly beautiful and comforting sympathy cards.


Return From Sample Letter of Sympathy to Expressing Sympathy



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