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Using Longer Letters of Sympathy to Express Condolences

Longer letters of sympathy offering support to the family of the deceased can be used to express heartfelt sentiments. Often these letters are treasured and can help to remind the grieving family of happy moments shared with the deceased during their life.

Below you can read an example of a longer letter of sympathy for condolences. Following the example, we have provided a section-by-section breakdown of how to compose such letters so that you can put together your own personal message.

Dear Norman and Meredith,

I am so sorry to hear of your mom's passing. She was a remarkable woman who inspired many and was a delight to talk with. Her family was so important to her. Many admired her efforts to keep everyone together. Your mom will be dearly missed.

Your mom was one of the kindest, wisest, most thoughtful people I've ever known. I'll never forget that time, when she gave me some helpful advice after wrecking the car. I was so upset about what my parents would do. Your mom helped me calm down and deal with the situation like an adult. She taught me to take responsibility for my actions and I still carry that lesson with me today.

Even though you and I are far apart right now, please know that I'm praying for you. I know that you have the strength to move on. I'm here for you. I'd like to spend some time with you as soon as possible; I'll call you to find out when I can visit. If there is anything I can do to ease your pain, please call and let me know, I would be honored to be able to help you while you go through this sad time.

Take care,

Corey Matthews

Begin With an Appropriate Greeting

Condolence letters are very personal, so you should first mention the name of the person you are addressing. Depending on how close you were with them some of the ways you can do that are:

Dear _______,
My Dear Friend _______,
Dearest _______,
Dear Mrs. _______,
Dear Mr. _______,
Dear _______ Family,
Dear Family _______,

If they are a professional person and have a title you can use a salutation such as:

Dear Pastor _______,
Dear Reverend _______,
Dear Rabbi _______,
Dear Father _______,
Dear Reverend and Mrs. _______,
Dear Doctor _______,
Dear Doctor and Mrs. _______,

* Condolence Letter Writing Tip: If you knew the deceased, but not the family, address the letter to the closest family member, such as the spouse or eldest child.

Your First Words

Your first words will set the tone of the letter. Choosing the right words to say can be a challenging task. Just write from the heart so that your words reflect the nature of your relationship with the bereaved.

In our letter we began with:

I am so sorry to hear of your mom's passing.

Other appropriate opening sentiments for such a letter are:

So sorry to hear of the passing of dear _______. I will keep you in my prayers.

We are so sorry for your loss. You have our deepest sympathy and are in our thoughts and prayers.

I am sorry to hear of your loss and extend my sympathy to you and your family..

Please accept my sincere condolences on the loss of _______.

Please accept our deepest sympathies. Our prayers are with you during this time.

I am so sorry for the loss of your loved one.

Mention a Wonderful Memory of the Deceased

If you knew the deceased, mentioning a fond memory of them can help the survivors to better deal with the pain of losing their loved one. Here are some other ways to do so in longer letters of sympathy:

  • Your father was a very special person who would do anything you asked of him. I along with many others will miss his kind sprit. We will never forget his beautiful smile.
  • _______ was a sweet, warm hearted woman and a genuine pleasure to know..
  • Your mom was a special lady and a song bird. All who knew her loved her for her kindness and generosity. We are honored to have known her
  • _______ will be greatly missed at the bridge club, he was a great mentor and friend, and his jokes, though sometimes corny, were great fun.
  • Your mom took care of my infant son back in the early 90's when you lived on Beacon Hill. He enjoyed being with her. I would bump into her over the years and she always enquired about him and was always pleasant.
  • I was saddened to learn of _______'s passing. Some of my fondest memories of her are from when we both worked in the same building and would see each other every day. Often we would have lunch together, and she would always giggle when I suggested we have some cake for dessert. I will miss her deeply; my prayers are with you.

Longer Letters of Sympathy Can Be Used to Offer Help to the Bereaved

Some appropriate ways to do so are:

  • I’ll prepare a bunch of meals that you can keep in the freezer. That way you can just thaw them out and heat them up as you need them.
  • On _____ I’m going into town. I’ll stop by your house first to see if there is anything you need.
  • I’m going shopping on _____ so I’ll pick up a few things for you and drop them by on the way home.
  • I noticed there are a few things that need doing around the house. Don’t worry about them, after the funeral I’ll get a team together to get them done.
  • Since I lost _____ I attend regular support meetings. I have one on _____, I’d really like for you to join me.
  • I have _____ and _____ off, so I’ll pick you up and we can go for a walk on whichever day suits you.
  • Don’t worry about your pets. My kids will come by before and after school to feed them. until
  • I’m going to _____ on _____ night. I’ll pick you up at _____ and we can go together

In Longer Letters of Sympathy Bible Quotes Can Be Added to Further Comfort the Bereaved

  • “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26
  • “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
  • "For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help." Psalm 22:24
  • "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope." 1 Thessalonians 4:13
  • "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." 2 Corinthians 1:3,4
  • "For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men." Lamentations 3:31-33
  • "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave is your destruction?" Hosea 13:14
  • "He will swallow up death forever. The sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken." Isaiah 25:8

Close with an Appropriate Sentiment

These final words of sympathy end the letter in a comforting way.

Our sympathy and thoughts are with you.

Please know that you are in my thoughts and in my prayers.

May the love of friends and family help you through your grief.

Remembering you and your loved one today and always.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

May your many memories of _____ help to sustain you at this most difficult time.

Don’t Make These Common Spelling Mistakes

Makes sure you avoid these common spelling mistakes if substituting your own words for any in our sample letters.

  • Condolense
  • Condolesens
  • Simpathy
  • Simpathie
  • Neihbour
  • Neigbor
  • Neihbour
  • Preyers
  • Blesings
  • Simpothy
  • Simpothie

A Final Note - Rules of Etiquette to Consider When Writing Longer Letters of Sympathy

  1. Keep your letter short but thoughtful
  2. Try to mention a fond or funny memory of the deceased if you have one
  3. Respect religious beliefs. Some people may believe in reincarnation rather than heaven, or could be atheists. Whatever their belief, they still deserve sympathy.
  4. Sign with a full name (first and surname). This is good etiquette as there may be other relatives or friends with the same first name as you.
  5. Do not offer financial help
  6. Don’t mention money the deceased may have owed you. This can be dealt with after the grieving period has passed.
  7. Do offer to help in other ways such as offering to cook a nice meal for the surviving family members, or helping with chores
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