It’s hard to write condolence letters. After all, you’re dealing with death and most of us want to avoid the topic. Death makes us feel vulnerable and sad and in that state of mind, we face the formidable task of reaching out to someone who feels much worse than we do.
But condolence letters are really important. Personal messages of sympathy go a long way in helping the bereaved navigate the painful and difficult process of grief. And wouldn’t you want to take the time to do something that you know will bring someone comfort?
That said, I’ll confess; I also find condolence letters tough to write. But I’ve learned some strategies over the years and I’ll share them with you.
1. Always write a draft. When you are satisfied with what you’ve written, copy it word for word on your chosen stationery or note card, or if sending electronically, enter your message into an online guest book or e-mail.
2. Begin by expressing how you feel. If you are sad to hear the news, state that: “I was saddened to hear that your dad died.”
3. Find some recollection or memory to share: “I remember the day he surprised you at work and I really enjoyed meeting him.”
4. Add any additional reminiscences: “It was so apparent how close you were and I’m hoping those good times and wonderful memories will bring you comfort in the days and months ahead.”
5. Find a way to close that’s comfortable for you: “My thoughts are with you during this difficult time.”
Condolence notes are often saved and read multiple times. When someone is feeling blue, it’s comforting to re-read sympathy messages. These letters remind the bereaved that their loved ones are remembered and, they’re not alone in their grief.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store. Click here to order.
Image Source: Flickr Creative Commons/redspotted