Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Writing Notes of Sympathy

Jennifer Rova
Sending a store-bought sympathy card when someone dies is better than not acknowledging a death at all. A sincerely written note or letter of condolence is infinitely better. It is more personal and tells the recipient that you are thinking of them more deeply then just a “Hallmark moment.”  Because I am a writer, people expect me to express my thoughts on the death of someone with perfectly chosen, heart-felt sentiments and so may acquaintances of yours.

Writing a letter or note of condolence is not difficult. Express your thoughts conveying what you feel. It need not be long. The words can be written on the left hand side of a card or on plain stationery enclosed in a card or in a plain envelope. If you knew the person who died, you have things to say that you remember about him. If you did not know the deceased, you know the person to whom you are sending the letter. 

If you knew the deceased, you will have memories, a nice story or an overall impression of the person. Focus not on how she died but how she lived.
      “Your dad always kept your cars sparkling. I can still see him washing and vacuuming them       every Saturday in the summers.”

     “I loved going to your brother’s baseball games with you and your father. He explained the finer points of the game which I am passing on to my children.”

     “Your Aunt Ruth was glad to see me when she visited. Her smile was lovely. I  liked her.”

     “Brian helped to teach my boys how to act around adults with his happy greeting and stated interest in what I was doing."

     “I knew Jesse only a short time but I remember fondly how he taught your dog, Dudley, tricks.”

     “Your grandmother was such a picture of good grooming. She displayed a caring nature I wanted to 
        emulate when I grew up.”

Refer to the deceased by name. 

If you did not know the person, say something about your friend’s relationship with him.
            “I remember you talking often about how positively your mom influenced your choices in life.”

            “Your grandfather played such a big part in your life when you were a child. The funny stories you told about going to the farm every summer still make me smile. I am sorry I never met  him.”

           " Dan deployed to Iraq just before we moved here. Your family is rightly proud of his service to keep our country safe as are we. John and I cannot imagine your loss. May your many memories bring you happier thoughts."

1.   Do not mention how they are feeling. Nobody has been in the exact situation even if you have experienced a similar loss. You do not know how they are feeling.

“The loss of your infant son, Chase, is so sad. No one understands your grief but John and I send our heartfelt condolences. We want to donate to a cancer facility of your choice in his name. I will contact you in a few weeks to discuss which one you and David prefer.”

“ Tom spoke often of his grandfather. What a tragic situation to lose him so suddenly.”

“Mary Jane told me of the passing of your daughter-in-law. Beth’s death leaves a heartache nothing can heal but may your memories of her live in your hearts always."

2.    Refrain saying they will get over it, their grief will pass, it was for the best, or you are sure he is in a better place now, or it was God's will.

3.    Avoid bringing in religion unless you know you both share the same feelings. If you are religious and say something like he is better because he is with the Lord now, even though that is what you believe, the recipient may not.

 Signing a card is tricky. Some people use the term “Warmly,” or “With warm thoughts.” For some reason I always think versus “Coldly"? 

            We are thinking of you,
            With caring thoughts,
            May the blessings of peace be with you,
            With loving thoughts,
            Our prayers and thoughts are with you,

 Here are two samples of letters of condolence.

June 30, 2014

Dear Mary and Jake,
            Bill and I were so sad to hear of the death of Mary’s mother. Although we did not know Evelyn, we feel as we did because of the many nice and funny stories you told us. I still smile when I think of Evelyn stuck in the tree trying to rescue your cat. Or the time the four of you went crabbing in Maine and it snowed. The obituary in yesterday’s paper was lovely.
            We are thinking of you with deepest sympathy and caring thoughts. I understand the funeral is this Saturday and we will be there.

With heartfelt condolences,
Sheri and Bill

July 7, 2014

Dear John,
     It is with a breaking heart that I express my condolences on the loss of Jeannie. Her prolonged illness was a terrible ordeal for both of you. We share comfort in knowing that she is no longer in pain.
     Your marriage was a long and charming one that many of us tried to emulate. During my extended friendship with Jeannie, we shared so many fun activities. Picking peaches, trying to solve the world’s problems over a glass of wine, volunteering together at the food bank and exchanging solutions for problems at work will be forever instilled in my memory bank of happy thoughts.
     It is difficult to see past Jeannie’s death. May looking back at your lifetime of memories help you. I keep a picture of the two of us laughing over something I have now forgotten but I will not forget how much joy Jeannie brought to life.

With caring thoughts,


internetexplorer said...

Been browsing for some nice condolence card messages or just any words to uplift and comfort people who are downhearted. I felt happy to have found this inspirational page of yours. These words are very nice. Thanks and keep sharing :)

Jennifer Rova said...

You are welcome. This writing blog offers a lot of writing tips for all occasions and writing endeavors. We hope we can be of further help.