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Letters of condolence - find the right words to express your condolences

A loved one has passed away and you would like to send a letter of condolence to their loved ones to express your condolences. Even if this does not take away the pain of the loss, you can offer comfort with honest words and show your sympathy to the grieving. However, many people find it difficult to find the right words to express their condolences. Here you will find tips for the formulation and structure of letters of condolence with many text examples and formulation aids to show you how to write a letter of condolence correctly.

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Expression of sympathy - express condolences to those who mourn

There are many ways to express condolences:

  • verbally (during the funeral service, during a visit or by telephone),
  • in writing (through a letter of condolence or a card), with an obituary notice,
  • with an entry in the condolence book at the funeral service

Above all, it is essential that the condolences are meant honestly and come from the heart. Empty phrases like "Don't take it so hard!" or "Life goes on!" the mourner does not want to hear. If you know the relatives well or have known the deceased better, a personal condolence visit or a telephone call is recommended. It can be very helpful to think about a few words and formulations beforehand, as one is often inhibited towards those who mourn. Please use our subsequent formulations and condolence samples - these can also help you with verbal expressions of condolence.

What is a letter of condolence?

A letter of condolence is a personalized letter used to express your condolences and condolences to the closest relatives of a deceased person. A letter of condolence can be a small card or a long letter. The decisive factor is the length of the letter, but the message. When expressing condolences, it is ultimately important that the letter of condolence is worded personally, is meant honestly and offers consolation to the mourners.

You should consider the following points when writing your condolences:

  • Respond to the death news as soon as possible. Especially in the first few days after the loss, the relatives need condolences and consolation
  • Write by hand, because a handwritten letter - unlike a letter created on a computer - always has a personal touch.
  • Use high-quality paper as an expression of appreciation
  • Avoid phrases and empty phrases
  • You can use funeral poetry as an introduction or as a conclusion. However, you should also always use some personal, self-formulated words.

Structure of the letter of condolence

It is best to think in advance how you would like to structure your letter of condolence. As an introduction to your condolences, you can use a quote or a mourning message, for example. The saying can just as well be used to conclude the letter. The quote should be carefully selected and appropriate to the addressee. For example, if the grieving family is a believer, it may be a quote from the Bible.

In addition to the mourning speech, be sure to offer a few personal words of condolences and condolences to the bereaved. Bring good character traits of the deceased and common experiences in your condolence letter. Mention what made him stand out or what you especially valued about him. Show your compassion to loved ones and offer your support during the time of grief. Below, we'll show you how to build your condolence letter. For each section you will find many wording examples and samples for your condolence letter.

1. The salutation - to whom are you addressing the letter of condolence?

As with every letter, start the letter of condolence with the salutation. Which form of salutation you use always depends on your relationship with the grieving person or the grieving family. If you are unsure and the person who is grieving is not close to you, be more formal.

There are the following options for addressing a letter of condolence:

  • Dear [first name],
  • Dear [first name] and family,
  • Dear Ms / Mr [family name],
  • Dear family [family name],
  • Dear Ms / Mr [Name],
  • Dear family [name],
  • Dear relatives

The phrase “to the house of mourning” looks old-fashioned and is no longer used these days.

2. Introductory words for your condolences

The introduction is the hardest part of writing condolences for many. We therefore recommend that you ask yourself the following question as an aid:

How, when or from whom did you find out about the death?
What did the message trigger for you?

The answer to these questions now forms the opening sentence and can look like this:

  • It was with great dismay that I learned from the newspaper today that [Name] passed away unexpectedly. Since then I just have to cry.
  • I heard today that your wife / husband has passed away and I am deeply shaken.
  • I am stunned since I found out that your dear wife / husband has now passed away.
  • The news of the death of your mother / father made me extremely sad.
  • I still can't believe [Name] didn't survive the operation. I am infinitely sad and I have no words.
  • The news of the death of your wife / husband hit me very hard.
  • The neighbor just told me that [name] passed away yesterday. I still can't believe it.
  • It was with great dismay that we learned of the death of your sister / brother today.
  • I can't believe [Name] is no longer with us.
  • The fact that your mother passed away so suddenly made me very upset.
  • I just found out that [Name] passed away all of a sudden. I still can't believe it.
  • I have been very sad since I heard about your sister / brother's sudden death in the newspaper yesterday and I can't believe it.
  • We only got the news today that [Name] died suddenly. We have no words for the incomprehensible.
  • Ever since we learned that [Name] was suddenly gone, we've been helpless and in pain.
  • I am deeply upset that your mother / father passed away so suddenly.
  • I've been so sad since I found out that [Name] passed away last week.
  • It was with great dismay that my husband and I learned of the death of your beloved mother / father today. We can't believe it and we are infinitely sad.
  • We heard that [Name] did not survive the operation and we quietly mourn for you.
  • Today I received the news of the death of your dear wife / husband, deeply saddened

3. Show sympathy and condolences

In this section of the letter of condolence, you express your sympathy and show your own feelings of sadness. The relatives learn that they are not alone with their pain and loss. Formulations for expressions of condolence text can look like this, for example:

  • I would like to express my sincere condolences to you for your grave loss.
  • I am deeply saddened and I feel connected to you.
  • My thoughts are with you in these difficult hours.
  • It's hard to find the right words, but we want you to know that we are close to you in our minds.
  • Much strength for you! We understand that these words can offer little comfort. Only time teaches us to live with the incomprehensible.
  • Life is fleeting, but the traces of his / her life and the time spent together will always be alive in us.
  • In this time of darkness and pain, the only consolation is the gratitude that we were allowed to spend so many years with him / her. Never forget: the light of love is stronger than the shadow of death.
  • We are deeply shaken. May the hope give you strength and consolation that after this dark time there are again warm rays of life.
  • I share your grief over this heavy loss.
  • In this way we would like to convey our deeply felt condolences to your painful loss.
  • The shocking news struck me deeply. My thoughts are with you and I mourn with you.
  • We are deeply affected and mourn silently with you.
  • I cannot find words for what happened and I am so sad.

4. Personal - nice memories and shared experiences

Try to relate yourself to the person who has passed away. Mention shared experiences or memories that you associate with the deceased. This is how you can personalize your letter of condolence. You can also include qualities that you particularly valued in the deceased in your letter of condolence in the text. It is always comforting for the relatives to know that the deceased was valued by other people and remains part of their memory. To help you, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What did the deceased mean to you?
  • What did you appreciate or admire about him?
  • What will you be missing?
  • How has he enriched your life?

The sentences for the next paragraph can be formulated from the answers. The following formulation examples show you what this can look like:

  • We have known each other since school and have never lost sight of each other. After so many years of connectedness, I can't believe we'll never see each other again.
  • He has always been a loyal friend and has been at my side with advice and action so often. I will miss him sorely.
  • We still remember the first meeting with you as new neighbors. Over the years, an intimate friendship full of helpfulness and familiarity has developed. Now your dear wife / your dear husband has passed away. We will keep her / him in fond memories forever.
  • She / he has left many traces of love and care, and the memory of all the beautiful things with him / her will always be alive in us.
  • When someone like [Name] dies, he is not really dead, but lives on in our hearts.
  • We have lost a valuable person who has always stood up reliably and wholeheartedly for our association. We will keep him in good memory.
  • She / he has contributed a lot to the positive climate in our company with her / his loving manner. We will remember her / him as a committed and reliable colleague
  • I will never forget her / his smile and his cheerful manner.
  • She / he has always done so for our church. We will miss him / her sorely.
  • She / he was a very special person. I am infinitely grateful that I was allowed to be his girlfriend / boyfriend
  • She / he had the heart in the right place and always looked after his fellow human beings. We will miss her / he.
  • She / he was one of the loveliest people I got to know. I will keep him / her in my heart forever

5. Offer support to the grieving

People in a grief situation are often overwhelmed with the tasks and errands that are now pending. Sometimes they just need someone to listen to them. Offer your support in your condolence letter. In the following you will find the appropriate formulations for expressing your condolence:

  • You can call me anytime. I am always there for you and listen to you.
  • If I can help you prepare for the funeral, please let me know.
  • Let me know if I can help you with anything.
  • Let me know if you feel lonely and need someone to listen!
  • Whenever you need help - we are there for you.
  • I will ask you regularly whether you need my support

6. Good wishes at the end of the letter of condolence

Well-worded wishes at the end of the letter support the grieving emotionally and give strength. At the end of your letter, give the recipient a few words of hope. Always show understanding for the grief and pain. You can formulate the good wishes as follows:

  • I wish you a lot of strength for the coming time
  • Take the time you need to say goodbye so that you can look hopefully into the future again afterwards.
  • I wish you a lot of strength and confidence despite the painful loss.
  • We wish you much comfort, strength and confidence for the difficult times ahead
  • May the many beautiful memories of the time together give you strength and hope
  • Take the time you need to be able to look hopefully into the future again.
  • May your trust in God lead you through the difficult time of grief
  • Strength, courage and confidence should now be your companions
  • May family and friends stand by your side and give you strength during this difficult time.
  • Draw your strength from the many beautiful memories.

7. Completion of the letter of condolence

End the letter of condolence with compassionate words or encouragement. Final words should be chosen according to your relationship with the bereaved. The greeting at the end of your letter of condolence can look like this:

  • With a quiet greeting
  • Sincere condolences
  • We mourn with you
  • With loving gratitude and sympathy
  • With deep compassion
  • With a silent final greeting
  • All my heart
  • Remember in silent
  • I cry with you
  • With compassionate concern
  • We will always fondly remember [Name]
  • I hug you

Mourning poetry for condolences

Funeral letters can be based on an element from the funeral poetry that fits the deceased. These can be poems, mourning messages, condolences or quotes. Decide whether you want to use a religious or secular mourning text. Secular sayings actually always fit. On the other hand, you should only choose a religious mourning speech if the recipient of the condolence letter is a believer. Here we show you some examples of funeral poetry:

Now we have nothing left of you
than the memory of
Your eyes
Your smile
Your hands
in people's hearts
who love you (unknown)
It's the living
who close the eyes of the dead.
It's the dead
that open the eyes of the living. (Slavic proverb)
There is no kingdom of the living and a kingdom of the dead - there is only one kingdom of God; and alive and dead we are all in HIM (anonymous)
It seems to me as if one does not know the whole of life if one does not, in a sense, include death in the circle (Wilhelm von Humboldt)
It is harder to comfort one tear than to shed a thousand. (anonymous)
He will wipe all the tears from her eyes: there will be no more death, no sorrow,
no complaint, no hardship. Because what was before is gone. (Revelation 21: 4)
One last smile
death breathes
on your dear face
his last gift
the hope
see you again. (anonymous)
It can not be,
that is how it seems to us
the place where you used to be
is empty. (anonymous)

Sample texts

The bonds of love are not severed with death. (Thomas Mann)

Dear Mrs. Schneider,

We have just received the sad news that your dear husband has closed his eyes forever. We are stunned!

After spending so many years together in the sports club, it is very difficult for us to believe that he is no longer with us. We will miss him very much.

We know that there are a lot of things to do and things to do now. If we can help you with anything, please let us know.

We wish you and your family a lot of strength and confidence in these difficult times and we will remain

in deep compassion

Edith & Karl Müller

Dear Schulz family,

We learned from the newspaper that your dear husband, our long-time colleague Herbert Schneider, has now passed away forever.

We are deeply affected and sympathize with you.

Over the years, her husband has been a reliable, hardworking and committed employee. We will always remember his unique sense of humor, with which he was always able to make everyone laugh.

Please just let us know if we can support you in any way.

May your family stand by you and give you strength during this difficult time.

With a silent greeting

The employees of the company Mustermann & Co. KG

Resurrection is our faith
Goodbye our hope
Remember our love.
(Aurelius Augustine)