How to write a sympathy note when you never met the deceased

A friend’s mother dies or a colleague’s daughter is killed in a car accident. You’re touched by the loss, but you’ve never met the deceased. We all know it’s important to reach out to the bereaved and extend comfort, but how do you write a condolence letter for someone you don’t know?

When someone dies, all the bereaved have left are their memories. Sympathy notes that express your condolences bring needed comfort to the bereaved. The most meaningful ones include your thoughts, personal memories, and if possible, a treasured story. Photographs are especially appreciated.

You do need to dig a little deeper to write a meaningful condolence note for someone you don’t know. Here is an example of a letter you might write to a friend on the death of a parent you’ve never met.

Dear Jeff,

I was so sorry to hear about the death of your dad. I’m sure your dad had a hand in modeling behaviors that shaped the special person that you are – your wonderful medical skills, compassion, and patience. And your keen sense of humor. You have shared lots of stories about your family and I’m hoping that the good memories will be a comfort to you while you grieve this loss. Know that I’m keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

Much love to you and Sandy.

Barbara

 

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 StoreClick here to order.

 

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