What you don't say in a condolence letter is almost more important than what you do say. All the same, even if you only write a line or two, you'll show the family your support.
Condolence Letter Tips/Notes
1. Keep condolence letters short. The family may have a mountain of cards and letters to read and answer. Don't add to their burden.
2. Never say you know how they feel. Simply put, you don't. Even if you have endured a similar situation, grief is a very intimate series of feelings that are unique to each individual. Don't intrude on them.
3. When my son passed away, a well-meaning friend said, "At least he didn't leave any children behind." Her well-meaning words rattled me to the bone. I would have gladly given my life to hold his son in my arms just one time. Especially in cases where death was a long-suffering ordeal, you may be tempted to write that it was a "blessing" or "relief". Don't. Some words are best left unsaid.
4. Do share a fond memory of the departed in the body (second paragraph) of your letter.
The passing of a loved one leaves a big hole in our lives. A well-written condolence letter helps fill the hole with friendship and love.
Also see: Sample Condolence Letter
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