Condolence letter : Definition and Guidelines for Writing

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When someone is going through a bad time due to the loss of family or is grieving about something majorly terrible, it is not enough to just write a short note or message. Instead, writing a letter is more appropriate as it ascertains that you have taken out some time to be beside the person in his mourning.

Writing a condolence letter compared to writing one or two lines in texts is therefore much appreciated, as it makes it more personal.

But writing such a letter is tough; finding the right words so that your message doesn’t just look like writing for writing’s sake, but looks genuine and heartfelt, is even trickier.

In this article, you will learn how to write a condolence letter properly. 

What is a Condolence letter?

We know that condolence means an expression of sorrow or sympathy which is given during the demise of near and dear ones.

The letter which is written to communicate your feelings and express your condolences to the person who has suffered this loss is called a condolence letter. Generally, the person to whom you write this letter is either a family of the deceased or a friend of the deceased. Usually, a personalized format is used to write such a letter. 

Type of Condolence Letters:

There can be the following type of condolence letters:

  1. Funeral Condolence Letter to an Acquaintance
  2. Condolence Letter to a Coworker
  3. Condolence Letter to Professor
  4. Official Condolence Letter (sample)

Guidelines for Writing a Condolence Letter

Before writing a condolence letter, there are some things that you need to consider:

Firstly, your letter should be written promptly. The first few weeks, at best two weeks should be the right time within which you should send it to the recipient. Writing a letter after that or even later may seem disrespectful and rude.

Secondly, you should try to hand-write the message or letter. This message will show that you have given your effort and taken time and written it in a personal way, as I have mentioned earlier. But if you had typed the letter, it would look less special. Even if you are planning to send a card, and not a letter, write by your hand on the card or include a written piece inside.

Thirdly, hand the letter by yourself if possible. Sometimes what is harder to say is easily written. If you don't feel like it, there are chances there will be a box in the funeral to place sympathy cards in, you can place it there.

Fourthly, the condolence letter should be written from your heart. If you try to make it fancy or something, it will be a big fail and might even offend the recipient. Just speak from your heart. Write how you feel, how terrible it is to hear of the loss. Acknowledge his sufferings and how much the means to you. If you still find it hard, read the steps presented in the next section.

Steps to Write a Condolence Letter:

Follow these steps to write your own condolence letter. All of them are not necessary, but you will get some idea as to how to construct our letter:

  1. Start by acknowledging the loss and be clear with it. You should not want to be insensitive or merciless, but you can not deny the fact that someone has died. Do refer to the deceased by their name.
  2. You can talk about a fond memory that you have of them. A funny instance, a warm, kind instance of how good the person was will make the recipient feel a little better.
  3. Following this, you can mention the best qualities and traits of the deceased that made him stand out.
  4. You can also try and offer some support for the recipient. You can ask them if they need help with cooking or shopping, looking after their kid(s), etc. But offer so only if you can genuinely help with it. Making an empty gesture to which they might ask you to fulfill the offering will put you in a very uncomfortable position.
  5. With a thoughtful sentiment, finish your letter.

Things to Avoid in a Condolence Letter:

  1. Unless you are sure of them having a religious side or a devoted worshipper, avoid using religious overtones in your letter.
  2. Even if death is natural, you don't need to tell them that it was bound to happen or that this has happened for a reason; steer clear of anything that might hurt or strike a wrong tone.
  3. Do not push them to move forward in your letter. Give them time.
  4. Do not discuss the death in detail.
  5. Do not use rhetorics.

Tips to Remember:

These are the things you ought to remember:

  1. The letter should be short.
  2. The tone should be friendly and comforting.
  3. Console the recipient, do not convince him.
  4. Don’t add unnecessary words or emotions to the letter. If you had a pressing question you needed to ask the recipient, don't include it here. It is downright outrageous!

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