Writing a letter of condolence

The bereaved gain comfort from knowing that their loved one was a part of the lives of others, so although you may feel as though you don’t know what to say, it will help them if you can put pen to paper and write a few sentences. You don’t have to write a long letter, as long as it is sincere. You should try to post it as soon as possible after the death.

The examples below may help you get started but if you are really stuck, a sympathy card with a printed message would also be greatly appreciated.


To a close friend or neighbour
Although we have spoken recently, I wanted to write and tell you how sorry I am for your loss. [Name] was such a special person that no words are really adequate. [He or she] will be sadly missed. I am always here to talk if you would like. I’ll get in touch soon to see if I can make myself useful in any way, but in the meantime if there is anything I can do to help I am only a phone call away.

To someone who has experienced a sudden loss
I was so sorry to hear about the tragic circumstances surrounding [name’s] death. The shock and sense of disbelief must be immense. [Name] was such a special person and it must be so difficult to come to terms with the fact [he or she] died so suddenly. If there is anything I can do to help I am only a phone call away.

To the family of someone at work who has died
I am writing on behalf of all [name’s] friends at [name of organisation] to express our sympathy at your sad loss. [Name] was a valued member of the team and contributed to the organisation in many ways. Besides being an excellent worker, [he or she] was always good-humoured and considerate towards [his or her] colleagues.

[He or she] often spoke of [his or her] family with affection. [Name] will be sadly missed by everyone at work. Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time.

To the family of someone you did not know very well
I was sorry to hear of your recent bereavement. Although I did not know [name] well, on the occasions when we met, [he or she] was always kind and considerate. Please accept my sympathy for your sad loss.