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Writing a Condolence Note

Finding Words of Sympathy.


Updated June 25, 2014

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.

  1. Acknowledge the loss and refer to the deceased by name.
  2. Express your sympathy.
  3. Note any special qualities of the deceased that come to mind.
  4. 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

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