When trying to think of something to say to someone who recently lost a loved one, it can be difficult to think of the right word of condolence to use. This is probably because you have never experienced losing a loved one before or you have never attended a funeral before. People who are grieving for someone they love are very sensitive so you have to be careful not to say anything that might upset the bereaved any further. If you are not good at conversing with people, especially in sensitive situations, then you can express your condolences in a card or letter. If you can’t think of the right words to write in your condolence letter, then check out this list of words and phrases that are most commonly used in a letter of condolence.
Choosing A Word of Condolence
If you can’t think of a word of condolence to use then read this list of the most commonly used words in sympathy messages and condolence letters: Sorry, Thoughts, Pray, Miss, Genuine, Strength, Peace, Saddened, Prayers, Condolences, Loss, Sincerely, Comforted, Memory.
Choose a few of these words and use them in your condolence letter for the bereaved. Here are some examples of phrases that use a word of condolence from the list above:
- “I am sincerely sorry for your loss.”
- “My thoughts and prayers and with you and your family.”
- “I was very saddened to hear that ______ has passed away.”
- “Our warmest condolences to you and your family”
- “We will greatly miss him.”
- “May God’s Grace give you strength during this difficult time.”
- “We pray that your heart and soul will find peace and comfort during this difficult time.”
Make it Personal
Use one or two of these phrases in your condolence letter and then make them personal so that it will look like it was made especially for the family of the deceased. To make your letter more personal, mention the name of the deceased and his/her positive qualities. For example, you can say, “I am sincerely sorry for the loss of your son John. He was the most hardworking person I have ever known and he will be greatly missed. His memory will live on in our hearts for as long as we live.”
We also recommend including a personal memory or story. For example, your condolence could say, “I was very saddened to hear that Michael has passed away. He was such a positive, outgoing and thoughtful person. I will always remember in university when my car broke down and I got stranded 100 miles out of town. He drove 2 hours in the middle of the night to pick me up and was happy to do so. I will miss Michael with all of my heart. God bless you and your family.”
Do Not Be Negative
Be careful not to write something that sounds negative in your letter of condolence. Remember that a grieving person is fragile and very sensitive so a hint of negativity in your letter will make the bereaved feel worse. Avoid using phrases such as “It was her time to go” or “I was worried that his lifestyle would lead to this” You should also avoid saying something negative about the feelings of the bereaved such as “You must be feeling really sad right now” or “You must have been crying yourself to sleep at night”.
You should sound as positive as possible in your condolence letter. Always mention the positive qualities of the deceased and express the pain and sadness that you felt when you learned that he or she passed away. We suggest that you spend some time reading our articles on writing condolences and sympathy messages to learn more about what to say to someone who has lost a loved one.
Updated: May 31, 2012