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How to Convey What You Really Want to in a Condolence Card in Three Steps


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By reading this article you'll learn that there is a proper way to structure a condolence letter, note or card.

All of us dread having to write any form of condolence letter or card. They can be the hardest and saddest things you'll ever have to write.

It is always difficult to know what to write in a condolence letter; what should be said and what thoughts should be conveyed.

By structuring what you have to say, and by ensuring that the structure follows our easy steps, you'll be sure to convey all your sentiments in a clear way.

Condolence messages mean a great deal to people but we often hesitate to send cards of sympathy for fear that by expressing our sadness we will hurt the bereaved even more.

However, the grieving person takes enormous comfort in the fact that their grief is acknowledged. People can often feel very isolated if their sorrow is ignored, and there is nothing more encouraging than receiving words of support in times of distress. It validates their feelings to be told, “I know what has happened. " “I understand that you are hurting. "

We can be reluctant to send a card of condolence and be intimidated about what to write.

While the choice of any appropriate card and a simple “Thinking of you at this difficult time", “With sincere sympathy" or “Our prayers are with you" will always be much appreciated, you may wish to express a more personal message to touch and soothe the heart of the bereaved.

Even two or three lines can be intensely meaningful and bring an immense amount of comfort.

The tone and content of any message will be determined by the relationship between you and the bereaved as well as your own relationship with the deceased.

Try to imagine what the bereaved person would most like to hear. Above all your message should sound natural, sincere and written from the heart.

Here are our three steps to writing a condolence card which you may find it helpful.

Step One: Acknowledge that the sad event has occurred.

Whilst the exact nature of the death need not be dwelt upon especially if it was of a particularly shocking or untimely nature, it will to some extent dictate the tone of your card. Recognition of the death recognises the mourners’ grief and is a kindness.

Step two: Remembering the loved one.

Above all, a condolence card should be a tribute to the deceased. Mourners want to hear about their loved ones. Recounting any warm personal memories can be extremely powerful to the healing process.

Remembering any particular positive attribute gives meaning to and honours the deceased's life.

Step Three: Hope for the future.

If the loss is profound as with the death of a spouse, often one of the most difficult aspects is the feeling of profound loneliness.

By reassuring the bereaved person that your thoughts are with them helps to lessen their feelings of isolation.

If the loss is particularly tragic, such as that of a child, the magnitude of the loss can be so overwhelming that it can scarcely be comprehended. In cases such as these it is particularly important to weave into your message words of warmth and comfort and to mention any qualities you admire in the bereaved to give them the confidence they need to move forward.

Of course, what you write, or how you convey your message is entirely up to you, but a condolence card is very easy to get wrong and they are one of a few types of cards that tend to be kept the longest. They are also one of the few cards that people genuinely are never sure what to write and are agonised over for the longest. It is so easy to struggle with and make mistakes on. It s very easy to feel intimidated and to hold back on what you want to say for fear that the words you write may not help, or actually make the recipient feel sadder. With everything else you may have on your mind, don't let having to write a message of condolence be one of them.

Juan Muino is the founder of which supplies design-led greeting cards to customers who appreciate style and elegance. You'll find a host of free services such as a reminder service and card personalisation and a resource centre at


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