When writing a condolence letter, acknowledge the name and death of the deceased, list the qualities of the deceased that are admired, express sympathy or empathy, and include any memories that were significant about the individual. An offer of help may also be included in the letter.
A letter of condolence typically includes an expression of appreciation for the deceased and examples or anecdotes of how the individual was special or influential in the writer's life. The tone of the letter should be natural and conversational and usually details the type of relationship the writer held with the deceased, such as "He was my mentor in high school and provided me with emotional and academic support." Expressions of gratitude for the deceased's actions or behavior are also common options for a condolence letter, such as "I am appreciative for his influence on my career and credit him with the success I have encountered."
Offers of help or support typically conclude the letter, such as "Please let us know if you need anything at all during this difficult time." In some instances, people opt to send flowers, plants, a financial donation or small gifts to the deceased's family with the condolence letter.
Condolence letters should be handwritten instead of typed or printed from a computer. Store-bought cards are often acceptable, as long as a personal message is written on the card. The letter should be sent promptly following the individual's death.