When You Cannot Attend A Memorial Service Writing A Condolence Letter
Can Help

When You Cannot Attend A Memorial Service Writing A Condolence Letter Can Help



Condolence letters are considered some of​ the​ most difficult letters to​ write and send because of​ their very sensitive nature. Even so,​ when someone close to​ you is​ dealing with the​ loss of​ a​ loved one,​ the​ grief and bereavement,​ writing and sending a​ condolence letter is​ probably one of​ the​ most considerate,​ kind,​ and thoughtful things you can do.

A condolence letter,​ if​ written properly,​ can show that you care about your friend and what they’re going through and that you are sympathetic to​ their loss. Although there are many different ways to​ remember a​ loved one,​ such as​ a​ funeral,​ memorial service,​ online memorials,​ and online obituaries,​ writing and sending condolence letters can also be your way of​ not only expressing sympathy but also in​ remembering a​ loved one and sharing those memories with your grieving friend or​ relative.

The problem is​ that many people have a​ hard time finding the​ right words to​ express themselves in​ writing during such a​ sensitive time. Before you put pen to​ paper or​ start thinking of​ what on​ you are possibly going to​ write,​ keep in​ mind that your letter,​ in​ addition to​ being carefully and well-written,​ should aim to​ achieve three main purposes. the​ first is​ to​ express sympathy and comfort to​ your friend or​ relative experiencing the​ loss of​ a​ loved one. the​ second is​ to​ honor and pay tribute to​ the​ deceased and the​ third is​ to​ let the​ bereaved person know that you are available should they need help. if​ you are able to​ keep these three things in​ mind,​ and put them on​ paper,​ your condolence letter will in​ fact be honest and heartfelt.

Try to​ be personal and heartfelt in​ your condolence letter,​ without being too sentimental and gushing. You can start by acknowledging what happened—the person’s death,​ how you found out about it,​ how it​ made you feel,​ etc. Do not go into detail about how or​ why the​ person died—this is​ completely unnecessary and unhelpful. Move on​ to​ express sympathy and comfort to​ your friend or​ relative in​ bereavement. if​ you don’t know the​ name of​ person who died (for example,​ it​ could be your best friend’s grandmother),​ find out. This will make your condolence letter more personal and meaningful. if​ you’re uncomfortable asking,​ find out at​ the​ funeral or​ memorial service,​ or​ search online - their obituary may be online or​ an​ online memorial may have been set up.

Next,​ include positive statements about the​ relationship between the​ deceased and your friend or​ loved one,​ if​ appropriate,​ as​ well as​ positive statements about your relationship with the​ deceased. Don’t forget to​ include something positive about them in​ general—his or​ her good qualities,​ characteristics,​ personality,​ hobbies,​ interests,​ good memories,​ etc.

In writing your condolence letter,​ avoid clichés like “I know how you feel” or​ “This is​ for the​ best” or​ “This is​ God’s will”—these statements are generally not sincere or​ heartfelt and don’t really serve a​ purpose.
Also,​ avoid writing general statements about your willingness to​ help if​ needed (this is​ unfortunately very common in​ condolence letters). While you likely have a​ desire to​ do something for your friend or​ relative who is​ grieving for the​ loss of​ a​ loved one,​ think of​ something practical that you can specifically do,​ and then offer your services—but only if​ you can follow through.

How do you send a​ condolence letter? First of​ all,​ it’s usually not appropriate to​ type and then print one out using your computer. Secondly,​ avoid e-mailing a​ condolence letter,​ save for special or​ extreme circumstances. the​ best way to​ write and send your letter is​ to​ handwrite it​ using stationery. Remembering a​ loved one and offering support through a​ condolence letter requires a​ personal touch.
When mailing your letter,​ make sure it’s mailed within two weeks or​ so of​ the​ person’s death in​ order to​ properly pay your respects in​ a​ timely manner.

Writing a​ condolence letter is​ not an​ easy task. it​ is​ a​ difficult but necessary thing we​ may all have to​ do in​ our life to​ help aid a​ loved one in​ a​ time of​ need. Take this as​ a​ simple guide to​ get you on​ your way as​ you have to​ take on​ the​ task.

~Ben Anton,​ 2007




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