How to write a condolence letter or email – Funeral celebrant

How to write a condolence letter or email | Since the pandemic started, we’ve seen many ways of communication surface. One of them is letter writing. More and more people in the UK are taking to pen and paper to check on their loved ones. It’s a great nod to the past. 

Are you one of those who find it easy to write? Few people are. They find it a bit difficult to find the right words to put their feelings down on paper. Some people buy a card with the words they want to say already in it.

As a funeral celebrant, I’ve seen all of the above used when it comes to condolences. I am not saying they are wrong, but the feeling of the person who has lost a loved one matters. It is essential that the communication you make at that point be the right kind. Especially now with the pandemic, making it impossible to see each other and attend funerals.  

A good and formal condolence letter or email writing tips

So how do you write a good condolence letter or email? I share some great tips on this in the following paragraphs. 

Choosing the Right Words 

We all know that words are powerful. Using the right words can be a source of comfort. It can help change the perspective of the person mourning to positive and can even heal. You don’t have to be a great poet or a literary genius to form the right words. Something as simple as “To live in hearts we live behind is not to die” by Thomas Campbell can make all the difference.

Just try to keep in mind that you want your message to offer help and support. You could also use the opportunity to share some happy memories of the person who has passed.  


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What Should the Message Include? 

There is no set structure for condolence messages. As a funeral celebrant, however, I have seen some really great ones. All good condolence messages contain some typical elements. Knowing what they are, could help you get started on writing yours. 

If you’re literally about to start, please don’t write directly into the card. It is better to have a draft paper that you can use to brainstorm first. When you are happy with the way what you have sounds, you can then transfer it.

This way, you won’t have to use too much Tipp-Ex or have to buy another card. 

  • Address your condolence to every member of the family. If you know their names, use those to make it more personal. 
  • Start your message by telling them how sorry you are for their loss.
  • Next, share with them some great qualities of their loved ones. This will help them know how much their family member was appreciated by others.
  • Share a short story if you want to go further and can remember one. It will help bring the family comfort. 
  • Finish by offering them some kind of support. It could be a listening ear to something much more practical. You could offer to help with grocery shopping for a while for example. 

Things to Avoid in Your Condolence Message

It is very easy for written words to be misinterpreted. We probably already know this from the time someone misread your text message. With written words, there is no facial expression, voice, or tone to show exactly how you mean it. It is best to try to avoid words that could be misinterpreted. 

One of the phrases that could come across as negative quite easily is “You should”. They’re bereaved and probably don’t want to hear what you think they “Should” be doing. “You will” also comes across like you know exactly how they’re feeling and you don’t. No two situations are the same. 

Cliché sentences like “Everything Happens for a reason” are also a strong no. Your intentions may be good, but words like that could cause distress. Instead, try saying things like, “I was so sorry to hear about (The deceased person’s name) passing. It may be cliché, but it is also true, and the bereaved would understand. 

Final Thoughts

One piece of advice that is very important is that you should take your time. Don’t rush over your condolence letter and express your feelings. If you really miss the person and are shocked over their passing, share this with their loved ones. Empathy and understanding can be very helpful when dealing with bereaved people. 

Here at Special Moments Celebrant, I also handle funerals. If you’re looking for a funeral celebrant in the Essex UK, London you should reach out to me. I have many years of experience and would love to help you through these trying times. Why not give me a call on 07838921491 or send me an email at I’d love to hear from you.


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