How to Send a Condolence Email
In our digital age, it is much more common to read about a death on Facebook than it is in the obituary section of the newspaper. It naturally follows that your response to this news might be to write an email expressing your condolences rather than a letter or card.
While traditionalists might hold that a hand written note is the only way to properly show your regard, many people find that a condolence email is more than enough. Not only is an email faster, but they are often used for relationships that are not especially close. Co-workers, boss/employee relationships, service providers, online acquaintances, and teacher/student relationships are a few of the situations in which it might be easier to send an email than a card. This is also true if you do not have someone’s physical address, if they live far away or across the country (or even world), or if they strongly value their privacy.
Condolence Email Etiquette
If you would like to send a condolence email rather than a card or letter, many of the “rules” remain the same.
- Stick to formal language and short messages.
- Indicate your relationship to the deceased.
- Use religious language only if you are certain that it will be welcome.
- Offer your thoughts and prayers in generic terms.
- Express your willingness to help in the future.
Because email is informal and impersonal, do not be afraid to personalize your message. Although you will want to avoid things like emojis, emoticons, and gifs, you can use a friendly tone. It is also appropriate to ask for a physical address where you can send funeral flowers, condolence gift baskets, or a more formal condolence card.
Other “rules” to follow include:
- Fill out the subject line, but do so in a way that remains respectful. Something like “With Sympathy,” “Our Condolences,” or “Your Loss” is appropriate.
- Use the deceased’s name in the email and include how you knew him/her.
- Include your contact information, including a physical address. The family may wish to send you a thank you card at a later date.
- Double check your signature line for appropriateness. It may include information that is insensitive for this type of email.
Condolence Email Examples
I’m so sorry to hear about _______’s passing. Know that my thoughts are with you and your family.
Please accept my condolences on the loss of your __________. May you find strength and comfort in the days ahead.
We are saddened to hear about ________. I know that this is a difficult and busy time for you, but please feel free to reach out for anything you might need (insert your specific offer of support here, bring food, cleaning help, etc.).
Deepest sympathies from those of us at _________. Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time.
Our condolences to you and yours. Please know that we are thinking of you and are available should you need anything.
We were shocked to hear of ______’s passing. Our hearts go out to you and your family.
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By Amy Johnson