Sending a condolence message isn’t always easy. With bereavement being such a sensitive matter, it can be a challenge to find the right words to express your feelings. For this reason, we’ve put together an expert guide on how to write and respond to condolence messages, answering any questions you may have.
Sending a condolence message is a way of expressing your sympathy and offering support to someone who is going through grief. Above all else, simply reaching out and showing that you care can provide great comfort to someone experiencing loss.
Deciding what to write within a condolence message is often a challenge, from word choices to formats, there’s lots to consider.
Most importantly, your condolence message should show empathy and offer support. Many people begin by acknowledging their feelings of sympathy and sadness, recognising the difficulty that the person is going through.
You can then build on this by offering your support in a meaningful way. You could let the person know that they’re always welcome to call you if they would like to talk, or maybe you could offer to help them with other aspects of their life. Knowing that your support is there if needed can really help to comfort someone going through a loss.
If you had a close relationship with the person who has passed, adding a favourite memory or short story can be a nice touch. This can help to bring a little positivity to the message and help everyone to reflect on the good times.
It’s worth noting that there are no strict rules as to what should be included within a message, the best messages are genuine and come from the heart. Feel free to say things in your own way rather than relying on generalised statements.
When writing a condolence message, try to avoid being too specific with any details relating to the death. For example, don’t include any reference to how the person died as this will most likely be too upsetting for someone to read.
Also, avoid mentioning anything particularly negative that may have occurred during the person’s life, this should be a time to focus on happier memories.
A condolence message doesn’t need to be long. Someone going through grief will likely be receiving a number of different condolences, so try not to make yours too extensive. Usually a few sentences is enough, but it all comes down to your own personal judgement.
Before signing off with your name, many people choose to end a condolence message with a closing line of support or short memorial quote. This could be something like “sending my deepest condolences” or “with loving thoughts”.
It’s always best to include your name, rather than leaving the message anonymous, as the person will want to know who this show of support has come from.
If you’re still feeling a little unsure of where to start, we’ve put together some examples of condolence messages suited for different situations.
“Dear… I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I’m thinking of you and your family at this difficult time. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if there is anything I can do to help.
“Sending my deepest condolences,
“Dear… I’m so sorry to hear about your dad’s/mum’s passing. Your dad/mum was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, and I was so lucky to be able to get to know them. If you need to talk to someone, I’ll be here for you.
“Please extend my condolences to your family.
“Dear… I am deeply sorry to hear about the passing of your partner/husband/wife. Their memory will forever live on in our hearts. Please remember that you are not alone and I’m here if you need any support.
“With loving thoughts
If you’ve received a condolence message, it can often be hard to know how to respond.
Replying to a condolence message can be an emotional process. It may only require a short text back, but even that can be hard to face when you’re experiencing grief. You may also be feeling a lack of energy and motivation and trying to figure out how to word your response may simply feel too overwhelming.
To help make the process easier, it’s important that you take things one step at a time. You don’t need to rush to respond on the day you receive a condolence message, the person will understand if you need time to reply. Wait until the time feels right and you feel ready to write your response.
There are many different ways to respond to a condolence message. You could choose to do it by card, in person or even over text — the choice is yours.
If the condolence was delivered to you face-to-face, the best way to reply is with a simple “thank you” or “I appreciate that”. You may not feel ready to hold a long conversation, which is perfectly fine.
A small expression of gratitude will be enough to show the person that you have acknowledged and are grateful for their words.
Sending and replying to condolence messages with a card is the more traditional method. If you’re struggling to decide what to write in your thank you card, you could consider buying a card that already has a message written inside.
Or, if you’d like to write some words of your own, try starting off with a “thank you for thinking of me.” You could then go on to show your gratitude for the support they may have offered or the kind words they shared.
In today’s modern society, condolences are often sent over text. When you’re ready to reply, it’s often best to start your response with a thank you. If the person has been more specific and offered their support, you can go on to show your appreciation for this too.
If you feel comfortable, you could explain how you’re feeling such as, “it’s been a difficult few weeks”. This statement can also help explain why it may have taken you a while to reply.
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