Must-Have Components Of A Sympathy Note For A Funeral Service


When someone you love is coping with the death of a loved one, it's easy to feel helpless since you can't take away the pain. However, taking small actions can ultimately be quite comforting to the bereaved. One of the most powerful things you can do is write a heartfelt letter of sympathy. In fact, according to The New York Times, the condolence letter is as deeply personal as any communication could possibly be. These key components are essential to composing an effective, comforting sympathy note.

Sincere Salutation

The opening of the sympathy note should be affectionate, straightforward, and sincere, but not cheerful or even upbeat. It's not the time to get cutesy, but a simple nickname is fine.

Opening Paragraph

A sympathy greeting shouldn't include small talk. Get right to the point at the opening of your greeting. Express your compassion and sympathy. Keep in mind that you don't want to burden the person with your own pain, but simply express your concern for theirs. Be as detailed and specific as possible, letting the person know that you are there for them without talking about your own pain.

Main Body of the Note

The main body of your sympathy note is where you really have a chance to pour your heart out. While you should write this at your pace and include only what feels genuine to you, the body of a sympathy note for a funeral service will often include:

  • Memories that you shared with the deceased.
  • What you personally remember about the relationship your loved one shared with the deceased.
  • How the person who passed away had an impact on an aspect of your life.
  • Words of comfort for your loved one.
  • How you plan to help the bereaved out in their time of need. Some people simply state, "Please let me know if there's anything I can do to help." While you may include that, it's more helpful to immediately offer to do specific chores like arrange for dinners for a week, do the laundry during their time of grief, or offer babysitting so the person can have some time alone.


At the end of your sympathy letter, be sure to let the person know how they can get in touch with you if they don't already have access to your contact information. A number or email where they can quickly reach you is a thoughtful gesture.

When you go to write your signature, some thoughtful closings include the following:

  • With deepest sympathy,
  • In shared sorrow,
  • With love and sympathy,
  • Thinking of you,
  • God bless you and be with you in this difficult time,
  • Wishing you comfort and peace,

Finally, remember that someone's time of grief is deeply personal. Everyone grieves differently, and not everyone will have the wherewithal to immediately thank you for a sympathy note. Some may not be able to even acknowledge it within their grief. Simply leave the sympathy note for the person and express how much you care without having expectations on its outcome.

For more advice on funeral service etiquette, contact a funeral home like Michels & Lundquist Funeral Home.


26 May 2016

Writing an Obituary: Do's and Don'ts

Following the death of my grandfather, I found myself in the awkward position of having to write the obituary. I wanted to capture the spirit of him and list everything he was proud of in his life, including his family and work accomplishments. However, at the same time, I knew that I had a limited amount of space to work with. After spending hours researching obituaries, I finally felt confident in my skills and proceeded to write my grandfather's. In my opinion, it was perfect. Writing an obituary while you are grieving your loss is challenging, but I hope that my website helps you write one for your loved one that helps capture who they were as a person.