By: Lauren Beth Kelly
When you’re writing any condolence message, keep in mind that your reader will usually be emotional, so you want to avoid sounding insensitive or using too many clichés. Here are some tips on what to say when expressing condolences in any sympathy message.
With any form of sympathy message, you should first use a salutation that shows sincerity. For example, “My Dear Friend,” or “Dear Uncle,” etc.
Carefully think about what you want to say, and write down your thoughts. Be sure to refer to the person who the note is about by name. Also, note one or more of the subject’s special qualities that come to mind. For example, “She was a great listener, I always knew I could go to her when I needed advice.” Be careful not to offend the receiver and do not try to explain the loss or compare your loss with theirs.
Within the body of your message, express your sadness at hearing about the situation. The best condolence messages are those that come from the heart and that include personal memories which are simply expressed and kept fairly short. Certain standard condolence messages can be used as a basis for your personal message. For example, “Deepest sympathies from the management and staff of _____. Words are never enough in moments like these. We will say though, that our hearts go out to you, and we will always remember the joyous memories that we are privileged to have in knowing your _____.
Finally, close by offering your future help or assistance, while including contact information. For example, “I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there in person to convey my condolences. I’ll give you a call next week to talk.”
If you can’t contact the person otherwise, or know the person only casually, then sending a sympathy email may be appropriate. In a condolence email, compose the subject line before the message itself. Standard subject line examples that can be used include phrases like, “Condolences,” “With Sympathy,” or “So Sorry.”
To begin the email, be sure to include a salutation. Then, within the body of your email, let the recipient know how you feel about what happened. You want to be direct and to the point. However, you’d also like for the person to accept your sympathy and condolences. So it’s important that you sound real and sincere. Say what you want to say, but keep it short. Do not include inappropriate topics and remarks.
Finally, end by giving a proper and thoughtful closing remark to your email. Such appropriate endings might include, “my condolences,” “with deepest sympathy,” or ,if the recipient is religious, “you’re in my prayers.”
And, as always, proofread before sending. Make sure you get rid of any errors or unnecessary remarks.