Condolence & Sympathy Letter: Format & Sample

A sympathy letter can also be referred to as a condolence letter. The letter aims at honoring the dead and expressing support and comfort to the reader. Besides condoling with bereaved individuals, you can write such a letter to comfort a person who has undergone a divorce or miscarriage lately. Though most people prefer purchasing sympathy cards, writing a letter is a more personalized way of expressing your sympathy.

Finding the right words to comfort a friend, colleague or family member can be difficult. Death or any personal loss in life can be inconsolable, a template or a sample will be of great help to assist in choosing the words and the format.

What to include in a sympathy letter/ note

  • Start by acknowledging the loss. Start the letter by highlighting your reaction to the news of the loss. If possible, refer the dead individual by their name.
  • Be personal. You can speak of specific memories you had with the dead person. Talking of the deceased achievements or unique traits is an excellent way of honoring them.
  • If you can offer any help to the bereaved at this trying moment, mention in the letter. You can offer to shop for them or assist with household chores.
  • Express empathy. If the loss happened to you who word would you like to hear at that moment? Use these words to speak to the bereaved.
  • End the letter with a prayer

What not to include in a sympathy letter or note

  • Allow the bereaved to mourn the loss. Avoid pushing them to move on with life. People take different periods to mourn their beloved depending on the relationship they had and their personality.
  • Avoid a religious tone in the letter unless you are sure of the bereaved religious standing.
  • Avoid phrases that express death or the loss as a normal occurrence
  • Do not arouse wounds or deep memories of what caused the death/loss
  • Avoid being too wordy

Sympathy Letter Format

Dear [bereaved’s name]

I am personally saddened by the sudden death of [deceased name]. He/she was [your relationship with the dead].

[Name of the deceased] was [share personal experiences and traits of the person.

[Mention positive attributes of the deceased]

If you need any assistance in [say how you can help], kindly let me know.

[Deceased name] will be missed profoundly by all of us.

[Your name]

Sample Sympathy Letter/Email

Dear Cathy,

It was with much sadness I came to know of the death of your sister Joyce. She was a darling of many including friends and the community at St Luis chapel.

Joyce was a very compassionate lady. Her work in helping the needy in society is evident to all. Many children in our neighborhood have achieved their academic dreams through her. The family friends and colleagues will greatly miss her.

If John has not been picked from college, I will lend help in that.

It’s my prayer you will find the strength to overcome the loss.

Kindly pass my condolence to the rest of the family, I will visit soon.

Types of sympathy letters

Letter of sympathy and encouragement

The letter is written to offer comfort and encouragement to the recipient. You are writing the letter to respond to different losses in the person’s life, from death, loss of a job, miscarriage, loss of a house or business through fire, etc. In the letter these details should be present;

  • Acknowledgment of the loss
  • Words of comfort and encouragement
  • Wiliness to support the individual

Business condolence letter

A business condolence letter expresses the condolences from a company to the family of an employee or a relative of an employee’s following their demise. In the letter include;

  • Sympathy for the loss
  • The contribution of the individual to the company/business
  • How you can help the family

Sympathy letter for loss of mother/ father

The letter expresses sympathy, comfort, and encouragement to an individual who has lost their father or mother. When writing the letter highlight the following details;

  • An account of the deceased
  • Empathy for the loss
  • A prayer for the individual
  • Extending help to the bereaved

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