What would you do in a situation when a friend is faced with a very painful loss? In a world where even a temporary distance from dear ones feels like a sore burden, imagining a permanent loss or bereavement instills intense pain in people’s hearts. And it is the thought of this pain that makes consoling people so difficult. We all know and realise the importance of being there for friends in such tough times but our busy world, at times, makes it highly difficult for us to be physically there. At such times, condolence letters come to our rescue; they let people know that, no matter how far we are physically, we still feel their pain and mourn their loss. Such letters are usually addressed to the lead mourner and start with expressing the deep regret felt at the loss; this basic condolence is then followed by a general discussion of the deceased’s life and actions, including some specific memories that enhance the richness of their character. These letters must be written genuinely; it’s the heartfelt emotions that matter here.
Tips On Writing A Good Condolence Letter
- Condolence letters score over condolence cards. Cards are easy to send but they involve shorter messages and may not convey your feelings to the right extent. Besides, your own words are any day better than the borrowed ones of such cards. If however, you insist on a card then choose a blank card with just basic designs and write the matter yourself. Condolence cards are good options for addressing not-so-close acquaintances.
- Let the condolence letter be brief and precise; nobody at the receiving end would be interested in reading pages and pages of how sorry you are. Just tell the family that you mourn their loss and keep your message to the point.
- You cannot change what has happened; however, you can do your bit in healing the family’s suffering with your words and your presence. Steer clear away from statements like ‘that was his fate’ or ‘maybe s/he was God’s favourite’; these clichés do more harm than help.
- Pen down your true emotions and say exactly what you feel about the person who has passed on and how much the loss has affected you; again, keep it precise.
- If the death was a shock to you, say you were shocked to hear about the death. However, if the person was bed-ridden and/or was suffering for a really long time then say that howsoever sorry you are, in a way you are at peace that the person isn’t suffering anymore.
- Share such memories of the deceased that touched your heart. Do not write stories, just short lines that convey your feelings. Also, offer your support and help to those who are undergoing the pain of the loss. Tell them that you are with them in this tough time. Do not show any pity in your letter; just empathise.
- It’s better not to simply fill your letter with advice such as ‘move on’ or ‘time will heal you’ or ‘get over it’. It certainly does not help them.
- Do not say that ‘you know the pain’. You can never know the pain that the bereaved are going through. Each loss is huge and the pain, unique. Understand this and stand by them. Also, avoid telling tales of how you felt when someone close to you died. They are not in a state to hear all that.
- A condolence letter should be sent within 2 weeks after the death. Sending delayed letters is not recommended. Also, such letters must be duly hand-written; typed condolence letters are looked down upon by almost all etiquette experts.
- Write the letter is a friendly manner. Also, make sure that if you, in your letter, promise to meet the family then see to it that you fulfill your promise.
- It is easier to write a condolence letter to a person who is not so close to you however, it is still difficult to comfort them. Keep your words nice and simple and your letter will be worth reading by even a stranger who has lost his loved one. What should matter to you is that you are there when they are in need of support.
A good condolence letter gives strength to the bereaved. To write one that does just that, keep in mind what the deceased meant to the family and pen down your words based on your understanding of the nature of loss. Always remember, if what you feel is true and it reflects in the letter, the strength you’d provide to the mourning family would be beyond words.