Expressing condolences is an extremely important part of the grieving process, both for the bereaved and the person sending their sympathies. How to express those condolences depends on the sender’s relationship with both the deceased and the bereaved. For instance, one wouldn’t normally be as familiar with the family of a co-worker as they would the family of a close friend when sending condolences. Choosing the right words to convey your sympathies while following proper etiquette can prove difficult. The following questions and answers should help you to follow correct etiquette when sending your condolences to different parties.

To Whom Should I Send Condolences?

The short answer is that you should send condolences to anyone you know who has suffered a loss. There are circumstances however when you may wish to send condolences to people you don’t know, such as the family of a friend or co-worker. In such cases, because you don’t know them, your condolence message should be fairly formal and short. Simply stating that you’re sorry for their loss and how you knew their deceased relative is adequate. You may also communicate what you thought of their relative, but avoid getting too personal. Other people you may consider sending condolences to are the family of employers, and sports team or social club members

What Should I Say in My Condolence Letter?

The mood of your condolence letter should express your sadness at the person’s loss, no matter who you are sending a condolence letter to.  The content and overall sentiment of your message will depend on your relationship with the person. Avoid being overly familiar with people you don’t know while retaining a sense of compassion and tact, and make certain that you speak from the heart. Simply expressing your sympathies towards a person’s loss can help them to deal with the grief they’re experiencing.

When Should I Send My Letter of Condolence?

A letter of condolence should be sent as soon as possible after learning of a person’s death. Letters sent more than two weeks after the funeral can cause feelings of grief that had begun to subside to resurface, delaying an individual’s emotional recovery.

How Long Should My Condolence Letter be?

A condolence letter should give respect to the deceased, express your sadness towards a person’s loss, acknowledge their loss, and offer specific support. How much of each you communicate will depend on your relationship with the people involved, but generally those are the basic feelings you want to convey. A simple rule to follow is the KISS principle: Keep It Short and Sincere.

Can I Express My Condolences in Other Ways?

The simple answer is; yes you can, but however you choose to share your feelings, a short handwritten note, about fifty words in length, should always be included. Many people are deeply touched by condolence letters or cards, and retain them as keepsakes for years after the passing of their loved one. Other ways you can express your condolences are by sending a small gift, cooking something for the family if you live nearby (make sure it is done without asking, unless specific food allergies or dietary considerations need be made), or helping them with chores. Please note that if sending a financial gift, wait till after the funeral when it will be greatly needed, and send it anonymously if that suits you.

Auhor Bio: Suzie Kolber is a writer at obituarieshelp.org. The site is a complete guide for someone seeking help for writing words of condolences, sympathy messages, condolence letters and funeral planning resources.

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Expressing condolences is an extremely important part of the grieving process, both for the bereaved and the person sending their sympathies. How to express those condolences depends on the sender’s relationship with both the deceased and the bereaved. For instance, one wouldn’t normally be as familiar with the family...