Writing a Condolence Letter to a Friend [with Sample]

Writing condolences to a friend can also be referred to as a sympathy letter. This style of letter is meant to comfort someone during a time of grief and loss, usually over the death of a loved one. It seems that during these times, it is hard to know what to say in person.

Writing a letter allows a friend to pour out their heart without generating an overflow of emotion. It is a way to let a friend know that they are being thought about and that if they need anything through this difficult process, they have a support 

system.While this letter is not difficult to write, it is not always easy coming up with the right things to say to someone in pain. However, friends and loved ones will appreciate the time and energy that one puts into writing a letter to comfort them. 

While every drugstore across the country has sympathy cards, it takes a little more effort and creative thinking to come up with a letter to help ease the hurting soul. Sometimes, a personal and heartfelt word from a dear friend, can act as a source of comfort for a bereaved person.

rule of thumb

A condolence letter should be sent out shortly after a friend loses a loved one. The rule of thumb is to send the letter out within two weeks of the loss. It is also a nice gesture to hand write the letter, rather than using email or a typing it. 

There are pretty stationary sets and handwriting just makes it seem more appealing and appear as if someone has spent a great deal of time and effort in this writing. It is acceptable to purchase a card from the store and then include a personal letter on the inside too.

When writing this letter, be sure to use words that are common to everyday vernacular. Don’t try to use big words or fancy sayings, just keep it to the point and be real. The letter should be in the same tone that a conversation would be. 

just talk from the heart

So many people try to come up with a poem or recite some fancy verse, it is better to just talk from the heart. The only exception to this rule would be if the friend writing is a writer or does poetry for a living, then it would be acceptable.

Things to keep in mind when drafting this letter is to always acknowledge the person that passed by name. Don’t just refer to them as grandma or grandpa, call them their name. Express sympathy, but don’t be overly emotional. This letter is meant to encourage not cause the recipient to have a breakdown. 

If there was a personal relationship to the deceased, write some special things about them. A funny story is appropriate, as “laughter is good medicine for the soul.” Anything that could be used as a source of encouragement should be brought up.

offer help

Be sure to offer help if needed. There are often times when people are going through these difficult times; they just may need a shoulder to cry on. Offer to take them to church, dinner or a movie. 

Anything that can be done to help the grieving process go smoothly should be offered. When it comes to the closing part be sure to use a salutation like “In my thoughts and prayers.” This sounds better than the traditional “Sincerely.” Here is a sample condolence letter.

sample condolence letter to a friend

Dear Caroline,

I am so sorry to hear about hear about the death of your grandmother, Virginia. She was such a wonderful lady and loved by everyone who knew her. How I will miss seeing her at our Sunday services with her bag of candy and big smile on her face.

I know this must be so difficult for you to lose someone you love so much. You will continually be in my thoughts and my prayers during this tough time. Virginia was such a wonderful person and heaven has gained another angel. I can remember those big pots of chicken and noodles she would make for the church dinner. Boy, she could cook!

During this time of sorrow, we must lean on each other and the members of our congregation to get through this. I have some pictures I would love to share with you that were taken with her and several other friends and family. 

These pictures you don’t have but they could be a great source of comfort to your during this time. If you need anything, please be sure to call me.

Always In My Thoughts and Prayers,

Linda Stemple