Death is a difficult subject and most people find it uncomfortable to talk about it, or even write a condolence message. It is especially difficult to console a friend/colleague when their loved one dies. If you find yourself in such a situation, you should take the initiative to send the bereaved person a condolence note. Most people find it difficult to write such a note and it can help to first review this guide on how to write a condolence message.
Keep the message brief. Avoid writing a message that runs into several pages; a few lines will do. A bereaved person may find it difficult to concentrate when reading a long condolence message. Keep in mind that your aim here is to acknowledge the loss and express your sympathy, rather than to erase the grief.
If you wish to offer help, be specific. Mention any tasks you are willing to handle. A bereaved person may find it difficult to dictate what they want done. It is therefore important to express your desire explicitly so that they remain informed and make the necessary arrangements.
If you knew the deceased person, you may share a happy moment in your condolence message. The greatest fear that most bereaved parties hold is that their loved one will be forgotten once the funeral is over. Even if you did not know the person well, you may still express sincere compassion to console the bereaved. You can also enclose a picture if you have one.
Your message should respect the uniqueness of the loss in consideration. All mourners have the belief that their loss is the worst that could possibly happen to them and no one else could possibly share their sentiments. This is the plain truth – it is difficult for a third party to feel their pain and anguish. Avoid telling the bereaved of your knowledge of their pain and loss.
You should also avoid sharing accounts of any losses you may have had. This shifts focus from consoling the bereaved that at the moment deserves your attention and empathy. Pay tribute to the deceased instead.
A condolence message should follow the format of a normal friendly letter, the difference being its brevity. If your relation with the bereaved is a formal one, you may change the tone so that the message is passed across accordingly.
The following is a simple illustration of how to write a condolence message:
I am completely shocked at the sudden demise of your brother. Please accept my sincere condolence. His memory is in the heart of my family and myself. May God grant him eternal peace and may he also give you strength in this time of sorrow.
All my sympathy is with you.
The timing of your message also determines its length. If you are sending it within a week of the passing, keep it brief and simple. You may send a longer letter if you send the condolence later than two weeks to one month. The longer the time after the passing, the more time the person will have had to deal with the grief. They will be more prepared to read a longer condolence message.
There are numerous examples on this website that will help teach you how to write a condolence message. Remember when composing the condolence that you should keep the message straightforward, rather than overly complicated or long. Write the condolence message from your heart.
Updated: March 21, 2012