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How to express condolence


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When someone you know has suffered the loss of a close friend or family member, it is important to let them know you are thinking of them. If course, it is difficult to know how best to express your condolences to someone who is recently bereaved but bear in mind that simply making contact and showing they are in your thoughts will be some comfort.

What does ‘sending condolences’ mean?

Sending your condolences means contacting someone who is recently bereaved and offering some words of comfort or sympathy for their loss. It is a way of acknowledging that they are grieving and showing that you care about them. There are an infinite number of ways to write a message of condolence.

When is the best time to send your condolences?

This probably depends on the nature of your relationship with the person who is experiencing loss. If you enjoy a close relationship either with the bereaved or the deceased, you should make contact as soon as possible. If you are a casual friend or part of a wider social circle, it’s fine to send condolences within a few days or just after the funeral.

How to send a message of condolence

A hand-written note or card is still the most traditional way to offer a formal message of condolence. You can simply send a letter or chose a blank card and devise your own words. Keeping it simple is probably best so soon after their loved one has passed.

Although many of us frequently communicate via text or email, this is one instance where you should consider if this is the most appropriate choice. Text and email contact has the advantage of speed – as does a telephone call or visit of course. But on the other hand, a card or letter takes more effort and can seem more personal.

A word of warning regarding social media. It would not be right to offer condolences on Facebook or Twitter unless the bereaved person has already used these public platforms to acknowledge their feelings. This is a difficult time so be careful about inadvertently announcing the news by way of condolence on social media – even if your motives are clearly kind. As a general rule, take your lead from their online communication and tone.
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Example condolence messages

Simple and traditional condolence messages


  • My/our condolences on the passing of your father/mother/friend.
  • Please accept our sincerest condolences. We are thinking of you.
  • I was so sad to hear of your loss. My condolences.
  • My heartfelt condolences on your loss. It was a pleasure to know [insert name].
  • [insert name] will never be forgotten. We will treasure our memories of him/her and offer you our condolences.
  • The ones we love are never gone; they live within our hearts.
  • We are sorry beyond words for your loss.
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Religious condolence messages


  • I offer my heartfelt condolences to you and your family. May [insert name]’s soul be at peace with our Heavenly Father.
  • I pray for peace and comfort for you and your loved ones at this difficult time and offer my condolences to you all.
  • His/her gentle soul will always be in our hearts.
  • I will never forget [insert name]. May God give him/her eternal rest.
  • Please accept my sincere condolences. I pray that our Lord blesses and comforts you and your family during this time of grief.
  • I am lost for words at this sad time. Please know that I am thinking of you and praying for peace and comfort.
  • I know that your faith is strong, and I want to encourage you to hold on to it. Even though we may not understand why this has happened, we can have faith that there is a reason in His plan.
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Quotes of condolence

“Life every man holds dear; but the dear man holds honour far more precious dear than life.” Shakespeare
“If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them.” James O’Barr
“Those we love and lose are always connected by heartstrings into infinity.” Terri Guillemets
“God is our refuge and our strength.” Psalm 46:1
“Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.” George Eliot
“Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” William Wallace
“It is not length of life, but depth of life.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“It takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, and a day to love them, but it takes an entire lifetime to forget them.” Anonymous

What NOT to say to someone who has lost a loved one

Even with the very best intentions, we can sometimes say the wrong thing to someone who has recently been bereaved. To stay on the safe side, try to avoid the following:
Don’t compare your feelings with theirs
We all experience grief in our own way, so even if you have also been bereaved, you are unlikely to know exactly how they might be feeling.
Don’t be overtly upbeat or try to find a positive angle.
Give them the space to express their grief openly rather than feel obliged to appear that they are coping.
Don’t say what you would do if your partner/parent/friend died.
Instead focus on what comfort you can offer them rather that thinking about yourself.
Don’t refer to the afterlife
unless you know for sure that the bereaved person and the deceased believed in life after death.