How to Write a Perfect Condolence Letter

When your family member, friend, associate or co-worker has lost someone dear to them – it’s natural for you to want to reach out to them.  Most people do this through a condolence letter.  It’s the perfect way to let someone know that you’re there for them, without intruding on them in their time of sorrow. 


What is a Condolence Letter?


A condolence letter is something that people cherish as a memento of the friends and family that supported them through a very difficult time.  Typically, it’s a letter or note which expresses your sorrow and offers help and support to the bereaved.  It should be sent out within 2 weeks of you hearing of the recipient’s loss.  Here are some more important tips to help you write a heartfelt, proper condolence letter.


What Should a Condolence Letter Contain?


There are several things which your condolence letter or note should contain, including:


  • How you heard of the loss.
  • How the loss made you feel.
  • Special traits or characteristics of the person who passed.
  • Memories or thoughts of the person deceased.
  • An offering of support and help to the recipient.
  • A heartfelt closing.


You can start by telling the addressee how sorry you are for their loss and how you are affected by the loss as well.  This helps let the person know that he or she is not alone in their suffering – which is very supportive and helpful at a time like this.  Talking about special characteristics and memories of the person that has passed allows you to connect with the recipient and reminds them to think of the good times. 


      When you are mentioning character traits or good memories of the deceased, mention their name often.  This is comforting to the person reading the condolence letter or note and will resonate better with them.  Next, you want to reach out to the recipient in their time of need and let them know that you are there for them.  Offer help or support and make sure the offer is specific.  Keeping things general, like, “Please let me know if you need anything,” makes it more difficult for the recipient to actually contact you and ask for help. 


            However, if you specifically offer something, they can take you up on it much easier.  You may offer to baby-sit their children if they need some private time, or you could offer to prepare food for a few days – anything to help them as they are dealing with other issues concerning the deceased.  Even offering for them to call you if they need to talk is a great idea.


            Finally, a genuine and heartfelt closing is how you should end the letter.  Wish them well and let them know that they are in your thoughts and prayers.  You will find some example closings in the sample condolence letters below.


Quick Tips for Writing Condolence Notes:


  • Don’t write your letter in a formal or stiff manner.  A great way to determine if your letter sounds natural and genuine is to read it out loud.  It should sound as if you are simply speaking to the recipient. 


  • Avoid mentioning anything other than the deceased and wishing the recipient well.  For instance, adding details about your family or asking questions unrelated to the loss is not a good idea.


  • Follow through with any offer you make to the recipient.  If you offer to call them in a few days to check in with them, make sure you do so.  If you offer to baby-sit their children, make sure you follow up with a phone call in a few days and reiterate the offer.  If you can’t follow through with something, don’t offer it in the letter.


  • Write your condolence letter or note on pretty stationary or paper.  You can even opt for a sympathy card, but insert your letter rather than writing the entire thing on the card.



Sample Condolence Letter 1 – For a Co-Worker Who Has Lost a Loved One


Dear Martha,


            I am so terribly sorry to hear of the loss of your beloved husband.  I read about it in the office memo as everyone was asked to observe a moment of silence.  I cannot imagine how you must feel at this time. 


John was a wonderful husband and it showed every time he visited you at the office.  I will never forget the time he surprised you with flowers and balloons for your birthday!  You were so happy and he enjoyed showing how much he cared about you.


            I wanted to extend my deepest sympathies for you and let you know that you have my support.  Please call me at anytime if you need to talk.  I will handle things at work for you so that you can take care of things at home. 


We are all thinking about you and keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.  I know you’re a very strong woman and we admire you very much for that.  I hope that strength serves you now in your time of need.

We send you our prayers in this time of grief,


Elaine Dorsey



Sample Condolence Letter 2 – For a Family Member’s Loss of a Loved One


Dear Jack,


            I am so extremely sorry to hear about Uncle Keith’s passing.  Your mother called to inform the family and I was absolutely shocked to know that we lost such a wonderful man so soon.  I know that you are devastated and I am heartbroken for you.  Uncle Keith was one of the most magnificent men I have ever had the pleasure to know.


            I remember the time we came to visit and he bought us all of that chocolate candy and made Aunt Fay angry!  It was hilarious – he was always doing things like that to make us smile and laugh.  He will be very sorely missed. 


            I’d like to help you in any way possible and if you need some quiet time in order to help plan things, please let me know.  I will pick up the kids and they can spend a few days here while you and Aunt Fay take care of things.  If you need anything else at all, please call me at any time. 


            My heart goes out to you and you and Aunt Fay are in my thoughts and prayers.  The two of you are so amazing and I know that you will pull through this and be alright – just as Uncle Keith would want you to.  I share in your grief and will be praying for you.


With all of my sympathy and love,




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Posted by Samantha

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  1. Robert Collazo Jr., May 4, 2009:

    Great site! I really liked your condolence letter examples; wish I would have seen this a couple of months ago when we had a love one passed away. Keep up the great work.

    If you get a chance, please check out my web site; and if you like it, please link it on your site.

    Robert Collazo Jr.

  2. Mady, August 12, 2011:

    I want a letter that reminds a friend you care about them! Not just a letter about someone who lost a person in their life!

  3. The Priceless Team, August 12, 2011:

    Hi Mady,

    Maybe our latest post on letter writing – “How to Write Informal Letters” – will give you a little more direction for your letter
    You can find it here –

    You can also contact us at admin (at) for additional help with your letter writing project!

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