10 Best Tips on Sending Thoughtful Message Condolences
When someone in your life is grieving, it's natural to want to say something right away. It's also very natural to be afraid you're going to say the wrong thing.
Not sure how to express your condolences? Here are 10 quick and easy tips to help you send a thoughtful condolence message.
1. Dive right in with a sincere note of sympathy.
When writing a condolence message, it's easy to start with the tired "I'm sorry for your loss", but let's start with a better opening that delivers empathy right away.
Here are a few real examples of how to start empathetic condolence messages:
- "I'm so sorry this is happening to you. This is so hard."
- "I know there aren't any words to make this better right now. I hope knowing you're being thought of and loved by so many brings some comfort."
- "Be gentle with yourself. You've been through so much."
2. Share a Personal Memory or Connection
3. The very best condolence messages use the name or relationship of their loved one in a very personal way:
- I remember the time when your mom...
- I always laugh when I think about how Bob used to....
- I didn't know Steve well, but what I do remember his....
- Do you remember when Alison used to...
- Remember when your dad said....
4. How should I express my condolences?
We get this question often. Our culture has changed so much, it's hard to give an answer that everyone agrees on. Cards and letters in the mail are ALWAYS in good taste. It's nice for the bereaved to have tangible expressions of condolence to read through and hold onto. Here are our general thoughts on how to best send your condolence messages in the day of social media:
Is it ok to message condolences in a text?
The quick answer is, yes, if texting this person is something you generally do. It's also a yes if you know that the person texted the news of their loved one's death.
Should I express my condolences on Social Media?
Posting your condolences on social media is appropriate if you are responding to an original post the bereaved made about their loved one's death. Our opinion is that it's not appropriate to initiate a condolence post without taking your first cue from those who've been directly impacted by the loss.
5. Yes, it's ok to send short condolence messages.
Short and simple condolence messages are better than no condolence message. We particularly like the idea of a "tweet" sized message for no particular reason. Here's a few short condolence messages to copy and paste:
- I can't imagine what you're going through right now. Please know I'm here for you.
- My heart aches for you. I hope you feel the love and support today of all the people who care about you.
- You're not alone (even though it feels like your world is so empty).
6. Is there a time limit for sending condolence messages?
What we've heard from our clients over the years is that they really never stop thinking about their loved ones and that they wish they'd gotten more messages instead of fewer. The year of "firsts" is the hardest and notes and messages are very appreciated. Two months after the loss is often an excruciating time as the bulk of the support has gone home along with their casserole dishes.
7. Is it ok to just send my condolences without sending a sympathy gift?
Yes. Absolutely. While sending a condolence gift is always a nice touch, don't feel like you can't reach out without one.
8. Is there anything I should not say when sending my condolences?
Where do we begin? There are so many things that aren't helpful. Here are a few to avoid:
- Everything happens for a reason.
- God has a plan for this.
- At least it's not....
- Have you tried yoga?
- What doesn't kill you makes stronger.
- God doesn't give you more than you can handle.
9. Is there a "best time" to send my condolences?
There's nothing set in stone, but here are a few considerations. If you have a close relationship to the person, it's best to show up right away. If the person reached out to you to share the news of their loss directly, get in touch right away by phone or text, or if you can manage it, show up personally.
If you are fairly close to the person, we like the idea of getting in touch within the first week. If you can't visit in person, slip a sympathy card in the mail within a few days.
If the person is a social or work friend, it's best to wait a bit. The first few days are hectic and overwhelming. A nice time for you to follow up might be in the few weeks after any kind of service or memorial. This is when the majority of cards, sympathy gifts and people start to slow down and those gentle condolences mean so much.
10. I still don't know what to say to express my condolences! Can you just write it for me?
Yes. We've written a guide with 6 perfect condolence messages you can feel great about sending. CLICK HERE to find one that works for you.