How to write a letter informing of a death
Sending a letter announcing a death is a traditional practice that ensures everyone is aware of a person's passing.
You should typically send this type of letter to friends, family and former colleagues of the deceased, particularly those who live a significant distance away and may not find out through word of mouth or newspaper obituaries. Writing a death announcement can be emotional, but the letters are fairly standard, and therefore easy to write.
Locate the contact details for everyone to whom you need to send the letters. If the deceased kept an address book, consider writing to people within this, alongside family members and friends, and possibly co-workers.
Use easy-to-understand, friendly language to pass on the news. "I am writing to inform you of the passing of ..." is a common way to begin these letters. If you wish to provide details of the cause of death, you could include this here, but this is not necessary.
Inform the recipient of how the family is coping. If the person was married, it is courteous to mention that his wife is coping well, and is grateful for everyone's well wishes. The same applies for any children of the deceased.
Invite the letter recipient to the funeral arrangements if you believe he'll receive your letter in time. Give the date, time and location of the funeral, a quick summary of what will happen, and whether flowers are appreciated. If you do not want flowers, state that flowers are acceptable from family only, and that instead you would prefer a donation to a charity. Include the charity's name and contact information.
End the letter by wishing the recipient well. A simple "I hope that you are well. Yours Sincerely" is suitable for this type of letter. If you sign the letter, print your name underneath, so the recipient can easily tell who wrote the letter.
- "The Art of Letter Writing"; Georgina Harris; 2009
- "Everyday Letters for Busy People: Hundreds of Samples You Can Adapt at a Moment's Notice"; Debra Hart May and Regina McAloney; 2004
- If the funeral has already taken place, include details of when and where, and if there is a grave or memorial to visit, where these are. Recipients may wish to visit to pay their respects.
- You can modify this letter to send to formal recipients such as creditors. Remove the private information, such as details of the funeral and how the family is, and include a copy of the death certificate. If possible, also include details of the executor of the estate.
- Do not mention wills in the letter. The executor should contact people mentioned in the will separately.