Friends are some of the most precious people in our lives. Some people even say that they are the family we’ve chosen for ourselves. With this type of bond, it’s excruciating to see a friend go through pain. How are you supposed to craft a condolence message to someone so close to you? There’s no professional facade to fall back on like there would be if you were writing a message to a coworker.
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There are only years of memories, friendship, and the pain they’re experiencing right now. Yet, picking the right message isn’t as hard as it might seem. All it takes is a little forethought.
Choosing the right condolence message takes a few components into account. Combining them all into one heartfelt note creates a condolence message to treasure.
There are a few overarching 'rules'. To start, you shouldn't fall back on cliches placed on every 'With Sympathy' card in the supermarket. This can make it seem like you couldn’t bother to think of something original. It can also make you seem flippant as if their loss wasn’t that important to you. Both things are only insult to injury.
Another rule is to not leave your note as a useless piece of paper, or a digital message. A note is only a start.
Can you offer to call them on the phone, or come in person to listen to them talk or share memories? Can you pick up their kids from school or help with funeral arrangements? Being there for a friend takes much more than a simple note.
Make sure it’s heartfelt
When you’re trying to empathize with someone else, we usually fall back on recycled phrases. Rather than expressing your real emotions, they’re a safety zone.
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, and to break beyond sayings such as “he’s in a better place now.”
Get a grasp on the situation
Tact and sensitivity are key to the success of your note. For instance, if you know your friend had a bad parental relationship, don't pretend.
In this case, it's best to skip on "I hope your great memories comfort you during this difficult time."
If you’ve never lost someone very close to you, saying you know how it feels is often infuriating. Even if you’ve experienced painful loss, it’s still best to not assume that you know it all. It’s impossible.
Is your friend religious? Do they have cultural traditions that are important to them? Do they believe in everything or nothing?
Being knowledgeable about your friend’s beliefs and culture is crucial. Saying that someone is in a better place now is very insensitive if your friend doesn't believe in that.
Consider the medium
Are you sending a quick message, or are you calling them over the phone? If you’re sending funeral flowers or a text message, a shorter message will work. Alternately, a phone call would be the best place to offer a listening ear.
Share a few memories
If you’ve been friends for a long time, chances are that you may have met the deceased. You may even have memories with them if they were a parent or a spouse.
Sharing a few of these memories is a great way to show the deceased’s impact on your life.
When writing a condolence message for a friend, consider who they’ve lost and how close you are to them. What level of emotion and what memories would be appropriate to show that you care?
If you’re having a hard time deciding, you can use, tweak, or get inspiration from theses sample messages below.
For a friend who lost their wife, husband, or partner
- I’m heartbroken to hear about the loss of your spouse or partner. Please accept my heartfelt sympathies, and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.
- I can’t imagine the pain you’re going through during this difficult time. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this loss. You’re in my heart, and my thoughts and prayers are with you.
- Words can’t express how sorry I am to hear about the loss of your partner. I’m heartbroken that you’re going through such unimaginable pain. If you need someone to talk to, I’m here to listen whenever you need it.
- I’m so sad to hear about your partner’s passing. Please let me do something to help you during this difficult time.
- I hope you feel loved and comforted by the great memories you made with your spouse. I never met anyone like them and was so happy for your great marriage.
For a friend who lost their mother or father
- I’m so sorry to hear about your dad’s passing. I never met anyone who had anything bad to say about him. He left a great legacy, and I was lucky to get to meet him. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
- Your dad was such a kind man. I always loved being around him and seeing the legacy he left with his kids. Keeping you in my thoughts during this difficult time. I was so sorry to hear about your loss.
- Please accept my sympathies for your mom’s death. She was so kind and looked out for all her children’s friends. She left a legacy of compassion and kindness, and I’m glad I got to meet her.
- I’m so shocked and heartbroken to hear about your mom’s death. If you need someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on, I’m here for you. Whatever you need, give me a call.
- Your mother was a kind, beautiful woman, and I’ll never forget her. I know you have a lot of great memories with her, and I hope they comfort you during this difficult time.
For a friend who lost a brother or sister
- Please accept my heartfelt condolences for your brother’s death. He was always so fun to hang out with and loved you so much. I’m glad I got the chance to meet him and will miss him. Keeping you in my thoughts right now.
- Your sister was such a smart, fun person to be around, and I’ll never forget the time I spent with her. I know you have a lot of great childhood memories with her, and I’ll miss her too. Please give me a call if you need anything.
- I hope you feel comforted by the great memories you have with your sister. I never met any siblings like you two and was so happy for your great relationship. Please accept my condolences, and let me know if you need anything.
- I’m sorry to hear about your brother’s passing. Please let me do something to help you during this difficult time, even if you need a shoulder to cry on. Keeping you in my heart right now.
- I can’t express how sad I am to hear about your sibling’s death. I’m so heartbroken that you’re going through this pain.
For a friend who lost a child
- I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now. Please let me know if I can help with funeral arrangements, bring a meal over, or anything else.
- I hope you feel comforted and loved by what a great kid they were. I never met another kid like them and was so happy for you. Please accept my condolences, and let me know if you need a shoulder to cry on or someone to talk to.
- I’m so heartbroken to hear about your child’s death. Please let me do something to help you right now. If you need help babysitting other children, or help with food after the funeral, or anything else, I’m here for you.
- Words can’t express how heartbroken I am right now. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your child, and my thoughts and prayers are with you right now.
- I can’t imagine the pain you’re trying to deal with right now. I’m glad you have such great memories with your kid and I am so sorry about their loss.
For a friend who lost another friend
- Please accept my sincere condolences for the loss of your friend. If you need someone to talk to, I’d love to call you or meet up in person.
- I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. If you need someone to talk to or someone to help with anything, I’m here for you.
- I heard about the death of your friend. Please accept my heartfelt sympathies during this painful time.
- I’d like to offer my heartfelt condolences for the loss of your friend. Keeping you in my mind and heart while you deal with this loss.
- I’m so sad to hear about the loss of your friend. I know you made a lot of great memories with them and enjoyed their company when I got to meet them.
Sending the Perfect Note to Your Friend
Coming up with the perfect condolence note or note for funeral flowers is difficult. Yet, with a little heart and vulnerability, you’re well on your way to crafting a great one.