To write a letter of sympathy, begin with quality paper or stationery and write the letter by hand for a personal touch. Be sure to include personal reflections or experiences concerning the loss or situation and how much you empathize, but avoid clichés that minimize the issue, such as "I know how you feel" or "The pain will go away in time."
The best way to start a letter of sympathy is to simply say something such as, "I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your brother." If you knew the deceased person or have a good memory about the situation, share it in the letter. Briefly describe the person in the way that you saw them, as long as it is positive and helpful.
After a short reflection, tell the recipient of the letter that you plan to contact them soon, either in person or by phone if they live in another city. If you are planning to see them in person, give them a date range and call them later to confirm a time and day. If you are going to call, tell them the day and approximate time you plan to make the initial call. If you feel uncomfortable making contact with them, simply state that you are there for the family or the individual or are keeping them in your prayers. Proofread the final letter and be sure it comes across in the best way possible and make any necessary changes before sending it out.