Mourning

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“You are in our thoughts and prayers” Ideas and tips on compassionate letters of condolence

Death is part of life. When we learnt of Uncle Walter’s death, we knew what deep sadness Auntie Elisabeth would be feeling. Words of sympathy can provide solace. But how do you write a personal and compassionate card or pen a comforting letter? Following these tips will help you find the right tone.

Giving your letter a personal touch – tips on choice of words

  • Put yourself in the place of the grieving family. How are you feeling? Was the death sudden or expected? What would you like to read if you’d lost somebody close?
  • Standard phrases will help you when writing a letter of condolence, but try to express yourself in a personal way. The bereaved family will receive lots of mail. A good letter of condolence stands out in terms of content and tone.
  • Include personal content. There’s no reason why you can’t write about yourself – how do you feel in such situations? What helped you when you lost somebody close? Or recount a personal anecdote that connects you to the deceased.
  • Sometimes people who’ve suffered bereavement are overwhelmed – both emotionally and by all the things they’ve got to organize. Offer support or simply be there to listen if someone wants to talk.
  • Judge the length of the letter by how close you are to the bereaved or how well you knew the deceased. A courtesy letter can be quite short. A more personal and longer letter is more apt for people close to you.

Two examples of support

“Memories”
“Deeply missed”

The swallow with the golden envelope

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Handwritten and personal – design tips

  • Use your best handwriting to pen the letter. Read our tips on handlettering.
  • Design your own stylish card. For example, by using a stunning photo of a hike in nature. This could be black and white, but doesn’t have to be. Or fold paper to make a crane. Instructions can be found online. The envelope with your letter or card can be up to 2 cm thick, including any cardboard or bubble wrap used as protective packaging that may be needed depending on the contents.
  • Opt for a high-quality envelope – strong paper, maybe with lining and a slightly textured surface. Stick a suitable stamp on the envelope.
  • Include something personal as well as a contribution to the grave decoration: for example, a gorgeous photo you took of the deceased years ago or a pressed flower from your garden.