How to Write a Sympathy Letter

By: Anderson Funeral Home
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How to Write a Sympathy Letter

It can be tough finding the right words to convey your own feelings to someone who has experienced a death in the family. Taking the time to write a sympathy letter will be appreciated by those who have lost a loved one. The letter does not have to be long, but it should be personal and express your heart.

Following a few simple tips will help you with writing a sympathy letter.

  • Put the focus on the other person from the start. The first sentence in the letter should begin with them. “You have been in my thoughts.” Strong correspondence lets the reader know that they are the focus and not the writer.
  • Remember that you will never know how another person feels. Each person walks through grief with different emotions and reactions. You can let the recipient know you empathize with their situation, especially if you have walked a similar path.
  • Express your concern for the loss the person is going through. “Loss can be a challenge for us, but especially when it is the loss of someone so close.”
  • Share a fond memory. Adding an “I remember when” moment can help you connect with the reader in a more personal way.
  • Be open and real with the one who has suffered the loss. This is the time to make a personal connection with the reader.
  • Keep it focused on sympathy and empathy – leave the drama for another time. The best sympathy letter you can write is one that is simple, hopeful, and to the point.
  • Offer help – practical and specific assistance. If you know of needs, such as rides or child care, then make an offer to help in one of those areas. Avoid being too general by just saying, “Let me know if I can help.” Although it lets the reader know that you are willing, a specific offer is more likely to make them feel comfortable accepting your assistance.

Write the letter as soon as possible. Struggling for the right words can make it easy to put off writing the sympathy letter. Before too long, it seems that it is too late, so don’t put off writing.

Each person will move through the grieving process in a personal and unique way, and therefore each sympathy letter should have a personal and unique feel. It is one heart sharing and comforting another heart.

It is okay to be uncomfortable when writing a sympathy letter. We often struggle with what we should do and say after a loss. The effort that you choose to put into writing a sympathy letter will say as much as the letter itself.

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