Writing a condolence letter is hard. That’s why you’ll find racks of sympathy cards at the drugstore. But a personal message to someone who has lost a loved one will touch their heart in a way you can’t even imagine if you haven’t experienced it yourself.
Write the letter by hand, on real stationery. That could be a sheet of nice paper or a pre-folded blank card.
Here is a website with a formula that should help you write a letter that is specific, personal and meaningful. It outlines eight steps to construct your letter.
- The salutation. For a very close friend, beginning your letter with “Dearest (first name)” could be very moving.
- Opening phrase. Acknowledge the loss and offer your sympathy.
- Special thoughts. If you knew the deceased, speak of a special connection you had, a memorable incident or shared experiences or comment on their work or accomplishments.
- If you offer help, be specific. Go beyond “Please let me know if there’s anything I can do.”
- Let others speak for you. This website suggests several suitable phrases from poets and philosophers as well as relevant Bible verses.
These days we often learn of someone’s death through social media. The website offers brief statements of condolence suitable for Facebook and similar platforms.