Here are some sample condolence and sympathy letters from which to model your own message of support.

WHEN YOU KNEW THE DECEASED

The following letter illustrates seven components to cover in a typical condolence letter. In this case, the writer knows both the bereaved and the deceased.


Dear Keith,

1. Acknowledge the loss.

My heart ached when Tim called this morning and I heard the news of Ruthís death. Though not unexpected, the final word was still felt as a blow.

2. Express your sympathy.

Words seem so inadequate, but with this letter comes my heart filled with love and sympathy on the loss of your beloved wife. I loved her too.

3. Note special qualities of the deceased.

Ruth was a vibrant, talented, caring woman and dearly loved by everyone whose life she touched. But for me, she was even more. She was a rare and cherished friend. Through our friendship, my vision of the beauty and possibilities of life grew.

4. Recount a memory about the deceased.

As I write, flooded with precious memories, I am recalling the day when Ruth and I were driving to the coast for what we thought would be a lazy afternoon of beachcombing. Instead, we had a flat tire. Youíve never seen a pair of more fumble-fingered, grease-covered, laughing clowns than we were that day, but we did it! And we made it to the beach just in time for a glorious sunset.

5. Note special qualities of the bereaved.

I know you will miss her deeply, but I also know that you recognize the blessings of the beautiful years you shared. You were always a source of strength and courage to Ruth. I recall her once saying that your love of life and enduring optimism brought her closer to God. I trust these same qualities will help support and guide you during this oh-so-difficult time.

6. Offer assistance.

You know you have my sympathy and my friendship, and I would be grateful if you would turn to me for any help I might give. Iíll call this weekend to see if thereís anything I can do.

7. Close with a thoughtful word or phrase.

My prayers and thoughts are with you.