How To Write A Meaningful Condolence Letter
Sending Condolences In A Letter Or Calling On The Phone?
After working with children all day, I’m a sucker for a mindless reality show. One of my indulgences is The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. In a recent episode Lisa Vanderpump, who recently lost her brother to suicide, was visibly upset by a condolence note she received from a fellow cast member, Erika Girardi. The handwritten note, written on personalized stationary, expressed the following:
Tom and I were saddened to hear of your brother Mark’s passing. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this difficult time.
Lisa goes on to state, “Erika, when you sent me a couple of lines in a condolence card, I wish that you’d called,” and laments, “It was a little distant…”
Erika, taken aback by Lisa’s criticism of the note, retorts, “If that didn’t work for you, I don’t know what to say.” Later, in the reality style confession interview, Erika added, “I’ve never known of anyone to react this way. ‘Your condolence note wasn’t good enough.’ Are you f—ing kidding me?”
Taking The Time To Show You Care
I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to express condolences; however, I do think there are better ways than others. Regardless of the number of lines and sincerity of thought, Erika did one thing well–she took the time to handwrite a note versus buying a canned sympathy card, and this is meaningful in an age of texts and emails.
How to Write a Meaningful Message
It is easy to fall back on standard phrases for a condolence letter like the ones Erika used. I know I have. Sometimes, we don’t know exactly what to say or how to say it. When writing a meaningful condolence letter, Angela Morrow, RN suggests using these seven components.
- Refer to the deceased by name.
- Express your sympathy.
- Point out something special about the deceased.
- Remind your friend or family member of his or her good qualities.
- Share a memory.
- Offer to help.
- Close with an expression of sympathy.
The next time a friend or family member loses a loved one, consider writing a personal handwritten letter to send your condolences.
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