You may decide to write a shorter version of a condolence letter on note card or on a small piece of stationary tucked inside a commercial card. If I am close enough to the deceased to have photos of them, I especially like to print one of my favorite photos on a card. That can be done from your computer or from a picture program in your local photo developing shop. (Keep in mind, though, that photos may be a reminder of grief as well as a way to recall happy memories.)
When writing a condolence note, pick just a few elements from the example on the first page of this article. Using components #1, 2, 3, and 7 is a good guide.
- Acknowledge the loss and refer to the deceased by name.
- Express your sympathy.
- Note any special qualities of the deceased that come to mind.
- End the letter with a thoughtful word, a hope, a wish, or expression of sympathy e.g. "You are in my thoughts" or “Wishing you God’s peace.” Closing such as "Sincerely," "Love," or "Fondly," aren’t quite as personal.
Remember that this is just a guide. You can use any of the components of a condolence letter in your note or none at all. The most important thing is to write from your heart.
Zunin LM, Zunin HS. 1992. The Art of Condolence: What to Write, What to Say, What to Do at a Time of Loss
How to Write a Condolence Letter 2005. End of Life Care Curriculum. Virginia Commonwealth Universities School of Medicine. www.curriculum.som.vcu.edu/m3/endoflife/Condolence_letter.html