Very often we find ourselves stuck for words when someone has died. But people who have lost someone they love get comfort from knowing that their loved one was a part of the lives of others, so it will help them if you can write a few words.
You don’t have to write a long letter, as long as it is sincere. Try to post it as soon as possible after the death. The letters below are simply a guide and may help you get started.
To the family of someone at work who has died
I am writing on behalf of all [name’s] friends at [name of organisation] to express our sympathy at your sad loss. [Name] was a valued member of the team and contributed to the organisation in many ways. Besides being an excellent worker, [he or she] was always good-humoured and considerate towards [his or her] colleagues.
[He or she] often spoke of [his or her] family with affection. [Name] will be sadly missed by everyone at work. Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time.
To the family of someone you did not know very well
I was sorry to hear of your recent bereavement. Although I did not know [name] well, on the occasions when we met, [he or she] was always kind and considerate. Please accept my sympathy for your sad loss.
To the family who have lost a child
I was very upset to hear of your loss. [Name] was such a lovely [child or person] and will be dreadfully missed. If there is anything [I or we] can do, [I am or we are] only a phone call away.
To a neighbour or close friend
Although we have spoken recently, I wanted to write and tell you how sorry I am for your loss. [Name] was such a special person that no words are really adequate. [He or she] brought pleasure to everyone [he or she] met and will be sadly missed. People tell me how much they valued [name’s] friendship. I am always here to talk if you would like. I’ll get in touch soon to see if I can make myself useful in any way.
To someone who has experienced a sudden loss
I was so sorry to hear about the tragic circumstances surrounding [name’s] death. The shock and sense of disbelief must be immense. [Name] was such a special person and it must be so difficult to come to terms with the fact [he or she] died so suddenly. If there is anything I can do to help, such as [offer practical help such as looking after the children, doing some shopping, collecting the pension], please let me know.
Visit our Helpful organisations page if you would like further advice on how to help someone who has suffered a loss.