Writing a Compassionate Condolence

funeral homes

Before or after funerals at funeral homes, we should express condolences to people we know, however peripherally, who have lost loved ones. While some people believe that simply expressing their sympathy to the grieving family during the visitation suffices as condolences, the reality is that the visitation, funeral service, and burial are often a blur to the family.

They don’t remember everyone who came to the visitation or the funeral service (which is why the funeral home provides a guest book for mourners to sign as they enter the room), and they certainly don’t remember what everyone said to them.

The bereaved family is still in the fog of grief. This is a combination of shock and numbness that, in turn, means that they are autopilot as they go through the funeral process. This is completely normal – and really the only way to cope in the initial days after the loss of a loved one. However, this coping mechanism means that the grieving family misses a lot of the details that are meant to provide comfort and support.

That’s why it’s important that we take the time to sit down and write a card or a letter to the family to express our condolences to them on the loss of their loved one.

But, what do you say that will be compassionate and comforting to a family that is grieving? How do you find the right words that will offer them support and sympathy?

It may not be easy, but it can be done.

There are some guidelines to help you as you make this very meaningful gesture toward a bereaved family.

When you’re choosing a card or type of stationary for your condolences, simple is better.

There are many sympathy cards at stationary stores or online, filled with missives that, frankly, can be quite glib and very syrupy. People sometimes choose these because they think sending someone else’s words is better than writing their own.

However, the impression that these kinds of sympathy cards can have on the grieving family is that the person didn’t care enough to take the time to write their own words to express condolence for their loss.

If you choose to send a card, then choose one that has a plain outside with words like “With Sympathy,” and is blank inside. Write your note to the bereaved family inside. It doesn’t have to be long.

You don’t have to say anything more than “I’m sorry for your loss.” and sign your full name if you didn’t know their deceased loved one personally. If you did know their loved one personally, then it’s nice to share a good memory of them with the family when you are writing your condolences.

If you choose to write a condolence letter, use plain nice stationary (ivory or white are common choices) for your letter and envelope.

Send the condolence card or letter to the grieving family as soon as you are able after you hear the news of their loved one’s death, no matter when that is. Sometimes, we get disconnected and then reconnected with people and they lose loved ones in between. No matter how much time has passed, the family will appreciate hearing that someone cared about their loved one and cares about them.

If you need guidance about sending compassionate condolences from funeral homes, our empathetic and knowledgeable staff at Hopler & Eschbach Funeral Home can assist you. You can stop by our funeral home at 483 Chenango St., Binghamton, NY 13901, or you can contact us today at (607) 722-4023.