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Have you had someone close to you lose someone they loved? Finding the right words to convey what your heart is feeling is sometimes difficult. We hope we can help with that in some small way. Words of sympathy and memory can be extremely meaningful and comforting to those in mourning. Condolence letters will often be read by numerous members of a family, and are often saved for years or placed permanently in family albums. For this reason, while condolence letters will surely be personal, they should also remain somewhat formal. Most importantly, remember that the purpose of your words should be to share memories of the deceased and to express sympathy for the family. See our example letter below:

Dear Chloe,

I was so sorry to hear the news of your Aunt Sally’s death. I know that she was important part of your life and she will be missed dearly. My heart is filled with sympathy for you and your family during this difficult time. It’s hard to express my condolences from so far away, but please know that I’m thinking of all of you. Aunt Sally was such a light-hearted and loving woman. She always had a smile and a friendly word for everyone she met, and would always open her home and heart to all of us as if we were family. I remember fondly the summer you and I spent with your Aunt Sally in San Diego. She insisted that I call her “Aunt Sally.” She took us to the beach every day and we ate ice cream for dinner almost every night as if we were all 12 years old. What a joyous and youthful spirit she was. I know how much pain this loss must be causing you. I also know that Aunt Sally left you with so many happy memories to treasure as you heal. The strength of those memories, along with the support of your family and friends, will help you get through the days, weeks and months ahead. I plan on coming to visit before the month is over, or just as soon as you are ready for company.

You are in my thoughts and prayers,

We started off by addressing the letter to the family member or members. This will let them know you are thinking of them. We then acknowledged the loss. Mentioning the deceased by name gives it a more personal touch. Express your sympathy, but do not discuss your own grief. Mentioning the special qualities or characteristics of the deceased or sharing a fond memory you have of the deceased will probably bring a little sunshine when they need it most. Encourage the mourning in their healing process. Offer specific help (don’t just offer to do “whatever they need”). You may wish to end the letter with a word of sympathy or a religious sentiment of your choice.

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