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Sympathy Note and Condolence Letter Etiquette

Published April 10, 2010        by Rae Ann

sympathy gift Sympathy Note and Condolence Letter EtiquetteYou can either use a note card or a blank piece of paper for your condolences, remember it is the thought that you put into your words that really counts.

Always put a lot of thought into what you write in a sympathy note. It doesn't have to be long (no more than a page), and the words can be simple.  Below are a few things to keep in mind.

Make sure you know what religion the person who has passed away was, so that you do not write anything that would be against their religion in the personal note to the members of the family.

A good format for a condolence note is:
1.  Give a tribute to the deceased: pay your respects and provide a tribute to the dead.
2.  Offer the grieving your condolences: say to the bereaved how sorry you are for their loss. Be yourself and write as if you were speaking the condolences to them.
3.  Acknowledge their grief: you can acknowledge the grief has happened by offering whatever support you can and personally expressing your own deepest sympathy.

If you knew the person who has passed away, write about a memory you have about them, or an act of kindness that they did for you. If you have some photos, you could include those in the note too. Photos can help the grieving process, as it helps people remember the good times.

If you did not know the person who passed away, talk about the importance of that person to the person who the sympathy note is intended for.

Be genuine and write from the heart. Let them know that you are there for them, if they need you for any support or help. But make this expression of help in real terms, like they can phone you day or night, or you can come and stay with them for a couple weeks. If this is the case include your home number and cell phone on the note.

Always sign the condolence note with your full name, as you don't want your sympathy note to be confused with someone else if you share the same name.

Always hand write a condolence note, as this shows the recipient that you are expressing your deepest sympathies in a personal manner. This means no e-mails.

To add a little something special with your note, check out our selection of thoughtful sympathy gifts.