Dealing with the Grief of Others
A sympathy letter is a formal and sincere way of sending your condolences to a grieving family member, friend, or colleague. It is usually sent or emailed during the first few days after the death of an individual. Sending a sympathy letter is a great way to empathize and give comfort to a person who has just lost a loved one. Dealing with grief is a challenging journey. Those who grieve are generally very appreciative of the notes of condolences they receive.
How to Begin the Letter
A grief sympathy letter often opens up with the writer acknowledging the death of the person. The writer may do this with lines such as “I am so sorry to hear of your loss,” or “I was shocked to hear about X’s death.” If the writer is writing on behalf of a group or company, he or she may write something like this: “I am writing on behalf of Y company or X’s friends to express our condolences for X’s passing.” These lines not only serve as an appropriate opening for the letter, but also set the tone for the entire sympathetic theme.
Acknowledge the Loss
After acknowledging the death of the person and the loss of the grieving party, the writer then expresses sympathy in the succeeding sentence or paragraph. The writer may say “Please find comfort in the love and good memories we have of X,” or “I want to express my sincerest sympathy for your sad loss.” In this part of the letter, the writer condoles with the grieving party and offers words of comfort to the bereaved family.
Share Wonderful Memories of the Deceased
A sympathy letter should also have a few lines about the deceased person as described by the writer. These lines usually enumerate the good qualities that the writer admires and will miss about the deceased. The writer may say, “X was such a sweet and hardworking colleague, and I will miss him dearly,” if the deceased was a colleague, or “X was a sincere, loyal, and trusting friend,” if the deceased was a friend. In the next line, the writer shares a wonderful memory of the deceased to the grieving party. This is an opportunity to highlight the good qualities of the person who has passed away. The writer may cite how he or she met the deceased, their friendship, working relationship, or how the late person spoke affectionately about his or her family.
How to End the Letter
Grieving families will appreciate hearing words of love from just about anyone, particularly from people they know. This may be as simple as words of encouragement. One rule of thumb, though- never make any offer that you can’t fulfill. Some lines that writers can use for this part are, “If there is anything that I can do, I am just a phone call away,” or “Don’t hesitate to call me up if you need anything from me during these tough times.” As a closing line, writers may end their letter with phrases such as “love,” “truly yours,” and “affectionately yours.”
Here’s a sample of a short but sincere sympathy letter:
“I am saddened by X’s death. No words are adequate to describe just how special a person he was. He always had kind words to say about everyone in the office. He also often told us how he loved you and his children. If there’s anything we can do for you, just give us a call. Our thoughts are with you and your family during these difficult times. Sincerely, John.”
Oftentimes, when one is faced with a friend who is grieving, it is hard to know what to do. Knowing how to write a formal sympathy letter can help one organize one’s thoughts and feelings in a coherent manner. For someone who is mourning the loss of a loved one, reading a simple sympathy letter is sure to make the loss a little easier to bear.
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