Writing in a condolence book can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before. But jotting down a short and heartfelt message can go a long way towards helping the family feel supported.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What to Consider Before You Write Your Message
- What to Write in a Condolence Book for a Deceased Family Member
- What to Write in a Condolence Book for a Deceased Friend
- What to Write in a Condolence Book for a Colleague or Acquaintance
- What to Write in a Condolence Book for Someone You Didn’t Know
If you’re planning to attend a funeral or memorial, it’s a great idea to prepare what you’ll condolence book. Not all funerals have condolence books, but if there is one, you’ll be well-prepared. And if there’s not, you can always deliver your sympathy message as a personal note or card, instead. So how do you go about crafting a condolence book message?
What to Consider Before You Write Your Message
Before you set pen to paper and write your condolence book message, consider these key tips:
Keep it brief. After a funeral, a condolence book is typically full of messages for the family to read through. Your message shouldn’t be too long-winded or drawn-out, and sometimes, it’s best to keep it short-and-sweet. Just a couple of sentences is long enough for a meaningful condolence book message.
Personalize it. It’s perfectly fine to get some inspiration from example condolence book messages, like those included below. But you should also try to include some personal touches that relate specifically to the deceased.
Don’t make it about yourself. When you’re personalizing your condolence message, make sure you’re personalizing it about the person who passed away and their family. Try to steer clear of messages that are mostly about yourself. It’s all right to express your own feelings of grief but always bring it back to your compassion for the family’s loss.
Avoid cliches. Try to stay away from sympathy cliches like: “They’re in a better place,” “I’m sorry for your loss,” “You’ll get through this,” and “My thoughts and prayers are with you.” Preparing your condolence book message ahead of time gives you the opportunity to rework some of these tired phrases.
Instead of, “They’re in a better place,” you can make the sentiment about the deceased. For example, “I don’t know where we go after this life. But I like to imagine that wherever he is, Dave is riffing on the Stratocaster of his dreams.”
Speak from the heart. The family doesn’t expect everyone’s condolences to be Shakespeare. Instead, you should try to write your message from the heart and be as sympathetic as you can.
What to Write in a Condolence Book for a Deceased Family Member
Whether you spent a lot of time together or hadn’t seen each other in years, you might want to write a message in a family member’s condolence book. If you’re not sure how to get started with a condolence book message for a family member, here are some ideas.
1. I deeply admired Aunt Leanne’s character and heart, and I’ll always remember her with love.
Let the immediate family know what you loved most about the deceased and that you’ll never forget them.
2. I wish I could have spent more time with Gary in his final years, but I’m honored to have known him.
You can phrase your message this way if you (sincerely) loved the time you spent with the person who passed away.
3. My heart aches for your loss, and I want you to know how much you all mean to me.
If you didn’t know the deceased very well, but they were a member of your extended family, you can focus on expressing condolences for the immediate family.
4. It’s in moments like these that words fall short. But I hope you know how much love I have in my heart for James, and that you’re in my thoughts.
When you’re at a loss for words, sometimes expressing that is the most honest message you can give. But it’s still important to include some brief words of support, too.
5. I’ll never forget the time we spent together every summer, gardening, and shopping yard sales. I know how much she loved you and how much she’ll be missed.
You can personalize the condolence book message by including a treasured memory you shared with the deceased.
What to Write in a Condolence Book for a Deceased Friend
Writing a condolence book message for a deceased family member is just as difficult. It can be hard to know what you should include in a condolence book message for a friend and what to leave out. Here are some ideas to get you started if you want to express your sympathies to a deceased friend’s family in a condolence book.
6. Kaitlin was the funniest, kindest, and wisest friend I could have ever had. I’m so sorry she’s gone.
Describe exactly what made your friend so special, and express your sympathy for the family’s loss.
7. I know Sebastian was a wonderful son and brother. And I want you to know how wonderful he was as a friend, too. Thank you for raising such an amazing man.
You have a unique viewpoint of the deceased as their friend. The family would likely enjoy knowing how great a friend their brother, son, or husband was.
8. I’m so sorry you’re going through this, and you have my full support, whatever you need. Your husband was an incredible man.
You can add a few words in your condolence book message to let the family know they can rely on you for support.
9. Jenny had a beautiful soul, and she’ll be with me every day of my life. Please accept my sincerest condolences for your loss.
Your friend’s family be comforted to know that her spirit lives on in your memory.
10. Ella, wherever you are now, I hope you can still feel how much I love and miss you.
You can address your condolence book message directly to the deceased as a way to communicate your love for them.
What to Write in a Condolence Book for a Colleague or Acquaintance
If you’re attending the funeral of a colleague or acquaintance who you didn’t know very well, you don’t necessarily need to write in the condolence book. But leaving a note of sympathy for the family is still a thoughtful gesture. Here are some ideas for condolence book messages for an acquaintance or colleague.
11. From my short time spent with him, I could tell Dave was an amazing man. Please accept my sincere condolences.
You might have spent a short time with the person, and you can express how much those few moments meant to you.
12. Becca and I met a college, and she made a lasting impression on me, as I’m sure she did on many people.
If you don’t know the family well, you might want to begin your condolence book message by briefly explaining how you know the deceased.
13. Thank you for including me in mourning Greg’s loss. I know he was a special person.
It means a lot that the family invited you to the memorial, even though you didn’t know the deceased very well.
14. Your family has been in my thoughts every day, and I want you to know you have my sincere condolences.
You can briefly let the immediate family know that they’re always in your thoughts.
15. It was a joy working with Merideth, and everyone will miss her dearly.
You might phrase your condolence book message this way if the person was your co-worker.
What to Write in a Condolence Book for Someone You Didn’t Know
You may find yourself standing in front of a condolence book for someone you didn’t really know at all. If this ever happens to you, and you still want to write a thoughtful message, consider the ideas below.
16. I’m honored to attend your beautiful memorial for Joseph. I can tell that he was truly loved.
You may be able to tell, just from the guests at the funeral, how loved and appreciated the departed really was.
17. Please accept my condolences for your loss. I didn’t have the honor to know Cynthia, but I can tell she was an incredible person.
Consider letting the family know that you didn’t have the chance to know the deceased, but that you think of them fondly.
18. I’m so saddened to know the hardship your family is going through, and I want to offer my condolences and support.
You might not have known the deceased very well, but you might still be close to the family. If so, it’s a good idea to sincerely express your sympathy and support to them.
19. I know he will be dearly missed, and I’m sorry I didn’t have the chance to know him better.
If you wish you’d had the chance to know the person, you can briefly mention that in your note.
20. I love you all, and you’re always in my thoughts. Please know how sorry I am for your loss.
If you truly love the family of the deceased, let them know how much they mean to you in your condolence book message.
How to Express Your Sympathy at a Funeral
Writing in the condolence book or memorial service guest book is one way to show your sincere sympathies. But if you want to go even further to show the family how much you care, consider sending funeral flowers or making a charitable donation in the deceased’s name. Whenever you give a gift to express sympathy, check for an in lieu of flowers notice to determine whether or not the family is accepting flowers and other gifts.
And even if you write a condolence book message and give flowers or a donation, it’s always a good idea to express your sympathies in-person, too. Before you attend the funeral, decide what you’d like to say to the family members to let them know they have your care and support.