What to Write in A Condolence Letter
When writing a condolence letter to the family to whom do I write and should I include his or her spouse in my greeting? D.T., Newport
Traditionally, you address the envelope and write the salutation to the deceased’s spouse/partner. When there isn’t one, the closest blood relative that you know best: their brother, sister, grandparent, child, aunt, uncle, cousin, or the person’s best friend. If the spirit moves you, it is fine to write to more than one of the deceased’s survivors.
The places to mention the survivor’s spouse/partner’s name and your spouses name, or both, are in the greeting or/and the closing. The greeting might begin with, “Allison joins me in saying we are deeply sorry for your loss”. Then in closing, you could write, “You and Bill are in our hearts and thoughts (prayers),” before signing your name.
Unless you have a great anecdote to tell about the deceased or feel you have to fill in relationship background (She was the best roommate ever in college.), make the note three short paragraphs. A greeting saying you’re writing about their loss; a sentence complimenting the music, wake, service, ceremony, or speakers; closing with a final descriptive word about the deceased (He was the most honest man I knew. She taught me all about roses and made the best brownies.) followed by your closing sentence, “Kenneth and I send you and Lisa our fondest regards and deepest sympathy.”
The survivor is in the fragile state of mourning, and you don’t want to say anything that belittles their feelings with cliches. Such as, “Time heals all wounds,” “He’s in a better place, “She is no longer suffering” “It will get easier with time.” “It must have been his time.” “It was God’s will.” “At least you still have …..”
Instead, write a closing that is genuine and sincere such as, “John will remain in our hearts forever,” “We will all miss Janet,” “We send you thoughts of peace and courage,” “May you be comforted by the outpouring of support that surrounds you,” “May your heart and soul find peace and comfort,” “Sent with love and remembrance,”