The Art of Writing A Condolence Card

In a digital age where it’s far too easy to rely on social media, texting, or email to communicate, the art of a well written letter or note seems to be fading away.  But when someone does take the time to put pen to paper, give thought to the words they choose and mail a card or letter, it’s value is unparalleled.   Certain life moments demand a hand-written note and the death of a loved-one in particular is one of those times when an electronic message is not sufficient, especially for a close friend or family member.

A condolence card can be saved and when the flurry of activity that surrounds a loss settles down to quiet, can be read again, the words offering a tremendous source of comfort and love.  Taking time to really think about what you say can make all the difference between a generic sympathy note and something much more personal and supportive.  Rather than saying, “We are here for you,”  try suggesting something concrete you can offer, a favorite meal prepared, a little pampering or simply a long walk and a talk. 

It’s always appreciated when friends and family share a treasured memory of the deceased or observations about the relationships they had with those who loved them.  Even if you weren’t very close to the departed, a note of sincere sympathy is always valued.  Flowers fade and meals are finished but words on a page can last a lifetime.

In grief we often feel alone and many adults struggle with what’s appropriate when someone loses a loved-one, especially a spouse, a parent, a child or a sibling. And too often people will tell themselves that the bereaved need time alone to process their loss when if fact usually the opposite is true.  It’s the people that show up, with a bottle of wine and homemade pasta, or send a card a month later showing continued love and support that give mourners a sense of community and hope.

Next time you are at the store, perhaps picking out a Valentine’s Card, think about someone who has suffered a loss this year and grab one more card to let them know they are in your hearts always.

For more advice on writing sympathy notes and letters follow this link to The Emily Post Institute website.