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The Architecture of a Sympathy Note, Heart to Heart Communication

Your preference is a short note rather than a letter.  You may wish to write a brief note on a commercial condolence card.

Dear Keith,

  1. Acknowledge the loss.

Our family was deeply saddened today when we heard from Bill that you had lost your mother.

  1. Express your sympathy.

We are all thinking of you and send our heartfelt sympathy.

  1. Note special qualities of the deceased or the bereaved or recount a memory about the deceased.

In the years we lived next door, your mother was a wonderful neighbor!  She was always warm, gracious and ready to lend a hand.  We feel fortunate to have known her.

  1. Close with a thoughtful word or phrase

With affection and deepest condolence.

Just a few words..samples of expressions that might capture your feelings

  • In this time of your deep loss, we extend to you our sorrow and tender understanding.
  • What a terrible shock.  It is difficult to convey our deep sadness but our thoughts and love are with you.
  • Feeling very close to you and sharing your sorrow.  Will call soon, once your heart has had a little rest.
  • Grief is a heartache that slowly heals.  Your lovely daughter will be sadly missed, but she will always be in our/your heart.
  • Our sympathies.  May the gentle sunshine of memories be a light in this hour of darkness.
  • Your dear grandfather is gone from our touch, but never our hearts.  The loss is more ours than his.  Let us remember him through the echo of his laughter.
  • Please accept deepest sympathies.  The healing will require courage and patience.  Our prayers/love/thought are with you in this time of grief.
  • We have just learned with profound sorrow of the death of your mother and send sincere condolences.
  • Our thoughts and love are with you.  We have so many wonderful memories of times with your brother.  He was a very precious gift to us all.
  • You are remembered with warmth, sympathy, and understanding in this time of sorrow.
  • I am so sorry to hear of the death of your father.  Please accept my profound sympathy and my prayers.  God bless you.
  • Thinking of you at this time and extending our heartfelt understanding and sympathy.  We have lost a wonderful friend.
  • We are saddened by the news of Ronald’s passing.  Please accept our sincere sympathies.  Our professional/business community has lost a valuable and respected member and we have lost a cherished friend.  We will miss him deeply.

“The Art of Condolence, what to write, what to say, what to do at a time of loss” by Leonard Zunin, MD and Hilary Stanton Zunin, Harper Collins Publishers, 1991.

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