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Words of Condolence to Write in a Letter for a Long-time Spouse

All losses are hard to bear, but it can be particularly difficult when it is someone to whom you have been married for many years. It can also make it harder for you to know how to express your sympathy if you have never been in such a situation. Below you can read a letter of a condolence letter for a long-time spouse. Following the sample, we have provided a section-by-section breakdown of how to compose words of condolence letters for long-time spouses so you can put together your own personal message.

Dear Janet,

I just received word that Bob passed away the other night. I'm glad to hear that his passing was peaceful with no suffering. That is an appropriate ending for a man of his caliber and character who devoted his life to others.

Bob touched so many lives with his warm smile and kind words. I remember last year when we celebrated your 50th anniversary how happy the two of you looked together. You were even more in love than when you got married. Both of those days are times that I was proud to be part of and I will treasure the memories always.

I know the coming days will be hard for you. You have lost your life partner, the person with whom you faced every challenge and celebrated every triumph. However, his love for you will give you the strength to face whatever comes your way. You have your precious memories to bring you comfort and joy and even a tear or two.

While I cannot replace the dear husband you have had for so many years, I want you to know you are not alone. Any time you need to talk, to cry, or to reminisce about special memories, know that I am just a phone call away.

With love and prayers for you,


Before You Begin - Rules of Etiquette to Consider

  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. Your role in this situation is to provide comfort, not to extol your religious beliefs. The grieving person needs comfort and sympathy at this time from friends and family.
  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.

Begin With an Appropriate Greeting

Letters of sympathy and condolences are meant to be a personal expression of your sympathy, and so you should first mention the name of the person you are addressing. Depending on how close you are with the surviving spouse some of the ways you can do that are:

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

* Condolence Letter Writing Tip: If you knew the deceased, but not the spouse, you can address the letter to the entire family or just the spouse. Also, if you did not know the deceased, address the card or letter to your friend, co-worker, or acquaintance.

What to Say First in Words of Condolence Letters for a Long-time Spouse

Choosing the right words to include in your own letter can be a challenging task, especially if you have never been in a similar situation. Just use words that show your heart so that your letter reflects the nature of your relationship with the surviving spouse.

In our letter we began with:

I just received word that Bob passed away the other night. I'm glad to hear that his passing was peaceful with no suffering. That is an appropriate ending for a man of his caliber and character who devoted his life to others.

Other appropriate opening sentiments for such a letter are:

My deepest condolences to you. So sorry to hear of the passing of dear _______. Please remember that you are in my prayers.

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

My deepest condolences on the loss of your beloved spouse. May your beautiful memories sustain and bring comfort during this unhappy season.

May you soon be able to enjoy the wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.

Please accept our deepest sympathies. Our prayers are with you in your grief.

Mention a Wonderful Memory of the Deceased

When writing words of condolence letters for a long-time spouse, it can be hard to know the right words to say. You may be concerned about saying something that will cause more pain. However, mentioning a fond memory of the deceased as we did on our example letter can help the survivors to better deal with the pain of losing their long-time spouse. Here are some other ways to do so:

  • I was saddened to hear about ________'s passing. He and I were friends for so many years. I remember when both of you attended the work Christmas parties. He loved to show you off and often teased the rest of the guys that he had found the best woman so we might as well quit looking. His devotion to you deepened over the years and I'm sure yours did the same.
  • I never knew ___________, but I can understand the depth of pain you must be feeling right now. When I lost my spouse, it was such a shock. For the first few days, I had a hard time remembering that she was gone. I'd get up and expect her to be cooking breakfast or doing some other routine thing. I know that your grieving will last long after the final well-wishers have returned to their daily lives, but my prayer for you is that your happy memories will be far greater than the number of tears you cry.
  • I can't believe ___________ is gone. I'm sure you must be feeling some of the same shock even though she had been sick for some time. We've been friends for such a long time that I hope you don't need to hear the words to know that you are in my thoughts. The four of us were quite the group with our Saturday night date nights through the years. When I lost my wife, you were there for me. Now, I'd like to return the favor if you ever need someone to listen to your favorite stories.

If You Like You Can Offer Help in a Words of Condolences Letter for a Long-time Spouse

Some appropriate ways to offer help are:

  • I’ll prepare several 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'll call you next week to invite you to dinner one evening.
  • 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 go with me.
  • I have _____ and _____ off, so I’ll pick you up and we can go out to lunch on whichever day suits you.
  • I will water your plants and check your mail while you are at your daughter's. Don't come back home until you feel up to it. I'll take care of everything until your return.
  • I'm planning to go to _______ next week on ________. I'll stop by to see if you feel like going with me.

Close with an Appropriate Sentiment

We closed our letter with:

With love and prayers for you,

These final words of sympathy end the letter in a comforting way. Other phrases you can use to end words of condolence letters for a long-time spouse are:

  • With hope that it helps you to know we care more than words can say.
  • With warm and heartfelt sympathy.
  • With blessings, love and prayers.
  • May these flowers express what our words never will.
  • Know that you are remembered in our thoughts and prayers.
  • With our deepest and heartfelt condolences.

Don’t Make These Common Spelling Mistakes

Makes sure you avoid these common spelling mistakes if you plan to use your own words for any in our sample words of condolence letters for a long-time spouse.

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

Condolence Messages for a Long-time Spouse

If you just heard about the passing of a long-time spouse, you may want to offer immediate sympathies to the survivor. You can send a quick text message or email to let the person know you are thinking of him or her. If you choose to send a text or email message rather than a letter of condolence for a long-time spouse, you can compose a shorter version of what you would put in a letter. It is appropriate to leave it at just a few sentences, especially for a text or social media message. Here are some examples that you can use.

I just heard about ______'s death. Please know you and your family are in my thoughts.

I heard from ______ that you lost your spouse. I want to extend my sympathies to you and the family.

I just heard about the death of ______. I want to offer my sincere condolences. I'll call you in a few days after the family has left to check up on you.

You can send one of these messages to provide immediate comfort and then send a traditional letter at a later time if you feel it is appropriate.

Condolence Cards for a Long-time Spouse

If you are sending flowers or another gift to the spouse, you may wonder what to put on a card to offer sympathy. Here are a few ideas that you can use for your own condolence cards for someone's spouse:

  • May these flowers serve as an expression of my sympathy for you and your family.
  • Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers during this time.
  • May these flowers let you know that we care.
  • You are in our thoughts during this time.
  • May God's grace sustain you in your grief.

Words of Condolence Quotes

"Men fear death, as if unquestionably the greatest evil, and yet no man knows that it may not be the greatest good." William Mitford

"Anything that is of value in life only multiplies when it is given." Deepak Chopra

"Cowards die many times before their deaths: The valiant never taste of death but once." William Shakespeare

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