Depending on whether you're writing a message of condolence to a co-worker, a client, a friend or a family member, you may recognise a death in many ways. Your relationship to the person receiving your condolences will help shape your statement. These sentiments can be included in cards, letters and articles.
Other People Are Reading
To a Friend
Condolence statements should be brief, at most a paragraph or two. Focus on what you knew about the deceased. Was she involved in public service? What did people seem to like most about her? Include anecdotes that reflect these characteristics of the deceased. For example: "Janice fostered children and devoted her life to taking care of others. We will always miss her," or "Tony was always there when we needed him. I am sorry for your loss."
To a Co-Worker
A message of condolence to a co-worker might read, "We are sorry for your loss. You will be in our thoughts and prayers," or "We are saddened to hear about Lucy's passing. We are free on Wednesday and would like to bring you lunch. We will call first to make sure that's OK for you."
To a Client
A condolence statement to a business client might read, "We are sorry for your loss and wanted to let you know that we will be here for you in your time of need." If the deceased worked in public service, a condolence statement might indicate that. For example: "Aaron worked hard for his community, and I am sad to hear of his passing."
To a Family Member
Include any memories or stories you have about the deceased. These can be humorous if they don't paint the deceased in a negative light. Did the deceased teach you how to read, about work or some other life lesson? Include this in your message. For example: "Cynthia was patient in tutoring me, and because of her, I was able to graduate from college. She made a huge impact on my life, and I will always love and miss her."
Statements to Avoid
Never tell the bereaved to "get over" the death, make plans without consulting the bereaved first, or make religious statements if you do not know the religion of the bereaved or the deceased. Also avoid statements such as "I understand how you feel" or "you will move on in time." These statements may seem to invalidate the pain of those grieving a loss. Do not offer help in your condolence statement if you don't intend to follow through.
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