7 min read

How to Write a Condolence Message

When someone is grieving over the death of a loved one it can be difficult to know what to say. You might be so anxious about saying the wrong thing, that avoiding the conversation entirely seems easier than finding the right words. For a grieving family however, a condolence message can be an important way to feel supported through grief. In this blog, we outline various options for expressing heartfelt sympathy- outlining some example condolence messages to help you along the way.

Branch bending in the wind

Communicating Heartfelt Condolences

If you aren't comfortable expressing condolences face-to-face, you don't have to. Expressing your deepest sympathy can be done over a phone call, through a text message, via social media.

To create more of a personal note at this sad time, you can even support a grieving friend through a handwritten condolence card or flowers. From meaningful words to sympathy gifts- there's endless options for expressing condolences to a bereaved person. Read on to find out how.

How to Communicate A Condolence Message

There are many different ways you can express your sympathies when someone dies. Supporting a bereaved person with heartfelt condolences and the right words and method, can help the grieving person feel loved.

The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement recommends contacting the person as soon as possible. The method of communication you choose is completely up to you, and will depend on your comfort level and relationship with the person mourning.

Face to Face

The most intimate way to pass on your condolences is by having a conversation in person. Meeting face-to-face can make it easier to gauge how to act around the bereaved and what might be an appropriate way to comfort them at this sad time.

In this situation the mourner's body language will tell you a lot about the way they are feeling. If their arms and legs are crossed or they are facing away from you and avoiding eye contact it could indicate, they might not be ready to have a conversation about the loss. Bringing up good memories, or commenting on what an amazing person the deceased was may not be the best option in this scenario.

On the other hand, if they are visibly upset it's important to offer comfort throughout their grief journey. Even just some form of physical comfort like a hand on their shoulder or a hug can be immensely meaningful for the person grieving.

Over the phone

A phone call can be just as personal as a face-to-face encounter when it comes to expressing a condolence message. These days, most people communicate through other means so it can be rare to receive a phone call that isn't a reminder to attend an appointment or pay a bill.

If you decide to send your condolence message over the phone, choose an appropriate time and think about writing a script or jotting down some prompts before dialling. This can help you to focus on just the right words- navigating the conversation with thoughtful messages, and avoiding coming across insensitively.

Similarly, a text message or voice recording expressing your heartfelt sympathy can allow you to plan out what you are going to say in advance. This also gives the grieving person a chance to respond in their own time, and give them space in this challenging time.

Social media

Rather than publishing official obituaries or death notices people often notify friends about the loss of their loved ones online. This can offer a quick and easy opportunity to pass short condolence messages, by responding publicly to the social media post or by reaching out through a private message.

A sympathy card and flowers

Sending a handwritten card and a bunch of flowers or a potted plant can be a good way to express your condolence message from a distance. Cards are widely available at newsagents and supermarkets which already contain a message expressing sympathies, but a handmade card can add a more personal touch.

How to write a condolence message

While there is no official structure to create the perfect condolence message you can use a basic formula to construct a message which is heartfelt and genuine.

1. Acknowledge the loss

Begin by letting the bereaved know you are aware of the death, making sure to refer to the deceased by name. If you like you can include a note to say how you found out about the loss to provide some context for the message.

E.g I was sorry to hear about the loss of Sarah from your father.

2. Express your feelings

Include a brief statement to share how you felt when you heard the news to show you sympathise with the emotions they may be feeling.

E.g I was deeply saddened when I heard the news so I can imagine you are feeling a lot of sadness and hurt right now.

3. Note the deceased's special qualities

Reflect on the deceased's positive attributes and personality traits. This could be sharing fond memories or a thoughtful message on the incredible life the deceased lived.

E.g Sarah was always thinking about others. Her passion for the environment and animal welfare was an inspiration to everyone around her.

4. Share memories

Personalise your message by including an anecdote or a fond memory you have of the deceased. Cherished memories can be a more positive way to express your deepest sympathy of someone's passing.

E.g I will always remember the amazing fruit pies Sarah made every Christmas, and when she didn't have time to make one her very obvious attempts to disguise store-bought pies as homemade creations.

5. Offer support

Let the bereaved know you are available if they need anything. This can relieve the pressure of them having to ask for help if they are struggling. Offer to help with funeral arrangements or provide assistance with chores or other responsibilities. Practical support can be a more meaningful way than just a phone call or sympathy messages. Especially if the bereaved is not ready to have emotional conversations at this sad time, practical support can be a more impactful way to express caring sympathy.

E.g Please know I am here if you need support. I can bring over home cooked meals or walk the dog so you don't need to stress about menial chores while you are grieving.

What to avoid saying

There are certain things which you should probably avoid saying when you are writing a condolence message as they can seem insensitive and make the situation worse.

  1. Do not mention money or inheritance

  2. Do not express relief

  3. Do not tell them things will get better or ‘It was god's plan'

  4. Do not make the situation about yourself

Example Condolence Messages

We recommend writing a personalised message with reference to the deceased and their impact on society. The below examples can be used as a basis to construct your message.

  • I am sorry for your loss;

  • They will be sorely missed;

  • My thoughts are with you and your family;

  • Please accept my deepest condolences;

  • Sending thoughts and well wishes your way;

  • Words can't express how sorry I am;

  • Thinking of you during this difficult time;

  • My heart breaks with you;

  • You have my sympathies.

The messages below can be used to accompany a floral arrangement:

  • Rest in peace;

  • In loving memory;

  • Vale ____ (name);

  • Gone but not forgotten;

  • Always in my heart.

I had this on my to-do list for too long… highly recommended.

To Wrap Up

When thinking about communicating a condolence message, there are several options on how to express your deepest sympathy. Whether its a personal note or sharing of wonderful memories- there are many more options than generic sympathy card condolence messages, which can support the person suffering to a greater degree.

Safewill Can Help

Safewill Cremations offer a meaningful and affordable way to plan a meaningful farewell. Prepaid cremations offer to alleviate the financial and emotional burden at this time, offering constant support at every step of the way. Contact us today on1300 730 639, or via livechat now.

Last updated 12th March 2022
Louise Ayling
Copywriter & Content Developer
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