Sympathy Letters

Common Questions Dealing With Grief

September 4th, 2011

A good friend of mine has lost a loved one, should I call or visit right away?

  • Yes. Calling to ask what help is needed is a great way to show sympathy to your friend. Necessary help isn’t always available when it is needed. Visits to the home are usually welcomed if you are close to the bereaved. Call first to inform them of your visit.

Dealing With GriefIs there anything I can say to ‘Make it better’?

  • Grief is a very painful and emotionally draining experience. Words cannot make it better. It is best to help the grieving with support, love and sympathy.

I wasn’t able to go to the funeral or respond right away, is it too late to offer my condolences?

  • It is never too late to share your sympathy. Often, the time after the funeral service is filled with family and friends offering sympathy and love, but as time goes on, the help dwindles. It is never to late to show that you care.

When will my friend get over the grief and go back to her old self?

  • Grief doesn’t have a time line. It is a process that can last years, with ups and downs. It is normal for the grieved to go through stages of fear, shock, pain, anger, guilt, denial, loneliness acceptance and finally recovery. But it takes time and patience. As a friend, the most important thing you can do is be there for them, through their ups and downs.

I feel uncomfortable around my grieving friend. I am trying not to avoid her, but sometimes I feel it’s best. What should I do?

  • Avoiding your friend only adds to their pain. And, can make them feel even worse. Don’t pity your friend, treat them like you normally do. If you can’t find the right words, be open about it and tell them honestly. Sharing a coffee break or a lunch will be a good way to sit and talk about everything.  Once everything is out in the open, your feelings will be easier to express.

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How to Write a Sympathy Letter

June 17th, 2011

Writing a letter of condolence shows the recipient that you have put time and thought into expressing emotions that are not always as easily expressed through a commercial sympathy card. Sympathy letters are better written in hand than typed. Write as if you were speaking directly to the recipient, keeping it from being too formal.

What should a sympathy letter contain?

How you heard of the loss Be personal and acknowledge the name of the deceased, share how you learned of the death, and how it made you feel.

Special traits of the person Write about the positive characteristics that made that person special. How they affected the people they knew, what they did in the community, and what made them shine.

Express your sympathy Share and express your sadness, and sympathy.

Recall a memory Tell a brief story that features the deceased. How they touched your life. Something uplifting or even humorous, to celebrate their life.

Offer words of courage Mentioning the bereaved strength and offering emotional support.

Offer to help Volunteer to help with whatever needs they have, whether it be grocery shopping, cleaning house or watching the kids.

A heartfelt closing Sign with a loving phrase.

“You are in my thoughts and prayers”
“May God comfort you now and the days ahead.”
“With Deepest Sympathy”
“Our love is always with you”

Sympathy Letter Example

Below is an example of a sympathy letter using the steps above.
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