When looking to console a family member or friend it is important that you choose the right words because saying the wrong thing may cause even more grief. The condolences examples given below will help you through the process of writing condolences and showing your concern. Ultimately however, your own personal relationship with the grieving family will determine what best expresses your feelings.
The following condolences examples relate to the three most common scenarios where you should write a condolence message:
Consoling Someone Who Has Lost a Child
This is perhaps the greatest loss that someone may have to deal with. This is especially the case if the child was particularly young. When expressing such a condolence message, it is important to try to help take away the pain they are feeling. You should, for instance, avoid direct references to the loss that they have suffered. You should also avoid cliche’s such as “he or she is in a better place” or statements like “you should feel comfort in knowing that you have other children”. It is also recommended that you do not compare their experience to one that you personally faced. Statements like “I know how you feel” are ineffective because you probably don’t know how they are feeling.
We recommend that you keep the condolence short and to the point:
“We are deeply saddened to hear of your loss. Words cannot express the sorrow we feel for the loss of your (son or daughter).”
“Please accept my heartfelt condolences to you on the death of your (son or daughter). I am truly sorry for your significant loss.”
Consoling Someone Who Has Lost a Parent
Losing a parent can cause your friend or acquaintance considerable grief especially if the death occurred at an early age. If their parent passed away at an elderly age the family likely had more time to prepare for the loss. However, no matter what their age, losing a parent is significant. When it comes to consoling someone who has lost a parent, it is more of making the person concentrate on the times they spent with the parent rather than dwelling on the cruelty of the moment of death.
The following are two condolences examples for the loss of a parent:
“I am very sorry for you loss. I know how close you were to your (mother or father) and what an influence (he or she) had on your life. We will miss (him or her).”
“I would like to express my sincere condolences on the recent passing of your (mother or father). You were truly fortunate to have such a wonderful person in your life.”
Consoling Someone Who Has Lost a Spouse
Dealing with the loss of a spouse can be especially distressing. As with the case of losing a child, if the spouse who passed away was younger, the grieving person may be experiencing even greater distress. The best consolation is giving a message that expresses your sympathies without using phrases like “I know how you feel” or “you poor thing”. Also, f you write a message on a card, it is wise to avoid mentioning the name of the dead spouse directly. If you were a friend of the family and you were using a nickname for the person who is departed, this should be avoided as well. You should also avoid any form of endearments that would directly infer to the person who has departed.
We recommend that your condolence are worded like the following examples:
“I am at a loss for words. I was very surprised to hear about your (husband’s or wife’s) death. Please know that I am praying for you and your family.”
“Please accept my deepest sympathies for the loss of your (husband or wife).”
When expressing condolences to a friend, relative or acquaintance, the most important factor is to ensure you express a sense of sharing in the grief without bringing painful reminders of the person who has just died. The condolences examples given here should enable you to offer consolation in the most effective way possible.
Updated: March 21, 2012