Even a decade ago, the act of sending condolences via text message would probably have been considered rude. As culture evolves, the rules of etiquette frequently change as well. Texting may seem like an impersonal way to convey condolences but it can actually be a great gift to people in mourning.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Can You Send Condolences Via Text?
- Condolence Text Messages for a Friend or Acquaintance
- Condolence Text Messages for a Family Member
- Condolence Text Messages for a Colleague
- Follow-Up Condolence Text Messages to Send
It allows you to say “sorry for your loss” in a way that lets them respond in their own time. Here’s how to offer condolences via text. We’ve also provided examples to help you start a text-based conversation when friends are in mourning.
Can You Send Condolences Via Text?
Before you send a condolence text, first consider your audience. If your grandmother’s close friend passed away, she may prefer a handwritten note to a text message. Older people often feel a handwritten note is more personal and appreciated.
But if an acquaintance from school misses class because her dad died, a text might be appropriate. In that case, it will be seen as a nice gesture of support. Condolence texts are definitely more widely accepted than they used to be, but they aren’t for everyone.
If you do decide to send online condolences or condolences through text messages, there are some rules to keep in mind. You don’t have to include all of these elements in a single message, but they are generally good guidelines to follow.
- Keep it simple. Some people assume that condolences need to be lengthy and flowery to be appreciated. But keeping it sweet and simple is really the way to go. People who are mourning don’t always have the attention span for reading long, drawn-out messages. A shorter message will have a lot more impact.
- Mention the deceased by name. If you know the name of the person who died, be sure to incorporate it into your text. A lot of people tiptoe around saying the name of the deceased as much as they worry about causing unnecessary pain. But not using the name of the deceased can actually make your loved ones feel more isolated. Using a name makes the message feel a lot more personalized.
- Share a memory of the deceased. Even if you didn't know the deceased, you may have heard stories. It can bring loved ones comfort to hear a positive memory. It will remind them of happier times. If they’ve never heard the story before, it can help the person in mourning feel even closer to a lost loved one.
- Offer concrete and specific help. When someone dies, people often tell their loved ones, “Let me know if I can do anything to help.” On the surface, this seems like a kind thing to say. But it puts a burden on people in mourning. First of all, not everyone who says this sentence actually means it. They’re saying it to be polite, and not out of a genuine desire to help. Identifying which people actually want to help can be difficult for someone who is grieving. Additionally, someone who is mourning a death may be overwhelmed with funeral planning. Figuring out in what ways a person can help you might be more than they can handle. Offering specific help means all they have to is say “Yes” or “No.”
Let’s move on to some sample text messages you can send.
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Condolence Text Messages for a Friend or Acquaintance
You may communicate with friends and acquaintances almost exclusively through text messages. If that’s the case, that’s the most obvious avenue for you to send your condolences. Here, we include messages you can send to close friends or casual acquaintances.
1. “I’ve been thinking about you all week. When you get back to town I’ve got a glass of wine and a shoulder to lean on, anytime you need it.”
If a close friend has to travel out of town for a funeral, you can still be there. Let your friend know she’s on your mind and talk about specific, concrete plans for the future. This will help your friend feel cared for and will remind her that normalcy will eventually return to her life.
2. “I heard that your mother passed away. I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my own mother a few years ago. If you ever want to talk, I’m here for you.”
It can be a touchy subject to bring up your own losses when expressing condolences. You don’t want to try and compare your losses or center your own grief. But a quick mention of similar circumstances is okay. This lets a mourning person know you’re a safe person to approach if that person needs help processing her grief.
3. “Your dad was such a special person. After my dad left, he always tried to teach me things he thought a boy should learn from a father figure. I’ll always be grateful to him for that. I’m so sorry to learn of his passing.”
Hearing positive things about a deceased family member can bring great comfort to someone in mourning.
Condolence Text Messages for a Family Member
If a family member is experiencing a loss, a text message is a great way to show your support. It lets you open the door to a phone conversation when you’re ready. If you’re generally worried that text message condolences are too casual, texting a family member is a great way to test the waters. If you can’t be informal with your family, who can you be informal with?
4. “Mikey was such a great kid. He was always so sweet to his cousins even though they were so much younger than him. We’ll all miss him so much.”
If you’ve lost a family member, you are grieving as well. But take care not to supplant someone’s immediate family’s grieving with your own. It’s okay to acknowledge your own grief, just don’t make it all about you.
5. “I’m so sorry to hear about your friend’s death. I’m leaving my phone on tonight. If you need to talk, I don’t care what time it is. Just pick up the phone and reach out. I'll be there on the other end of the line.”
Let your family member know that he isn’t an imposition in his time of grief. Make your support for him clear.
6. “I know you have a lot on your plate right now, so I just wanted to send you a quick text to say I’m sorry for your loss. If you need help putting together a program or writing an obituary, I’m more than happy to help you out.”
Offering specific help is a boon to people who are mourning. If you have funeral planning skills, donating your time is an excellent gesture of support.
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Condolence Text Messages for a Colleague
It can feel awkward to send condolences to a colleague. Handwriting a note may feel too formal. Making a phone call may feel intrusive, especially if you don’t often speak to them after work. Sending a quick text is a great way to show your support.
7. “I was so sorry to hear about your wife’s passing. I just wanted to let you know you don’t need to worry about the Jones project. Please, take as much time as you need to be with your family.”
One of the best things you can do is to help out when a fellow employee is having a hard time. When you send condolences, offer to help cover any responsibilities.
8. “I met your husband at the last company picnic. He was so proud of the work you do. I’m sorry for your loss.”
Even if you only had a passing acquaintance with the deceased, you can still say something kind.
Follow-Up Condolence Text Messages to Send
You may not get a response to your text-based condolences. You may wonder if the recipient received it. It’s probably safe to assume he has. He may be too overwhelmed to respond to every message he receives. If you’re worried, you can always send follow-up condolences after a few weeks. Things will have probably settled down enough that the recipient has more time to respond.
It can also be challenging for people in mourning to get flooded with texts of support, only to receive no messages a week or two later. Follow-up condolences give you a chance to step up for them when a lot of support seems to have fallen away.
9. “I just wanted to check in with you now that Tyler’s funeral has passed. I’m sure you’re tired of casseroles by now. If you’re up for it, I’d love to take you out to dinner. If you’re not up for it, no worries. I know you’re coping with a tremendous loss.”
Sometimes people need a little nudge to re-enter the world after the death of a loved one. You can gently give a friend the option to regain some normalcy and give him space to say no.
10. “I was so sorry I wasn’t able to attend your mother’s funeral. I just wanted to let you know that I’m back in town now and I’m happy to help you with anything you need.”
A follow-up text is a great way to let people know that even if you weren’t available to support them before, you are now.
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Offering Condolences by Text Message
When a friend or family member loses a loved one, you might not know how to reassure them. Should you send a card or will it take too long? Should you call them, or will answering calls be too stressful for them? Sending condolences via text is a great compromise.
You get to communicate your condolences instantaneously. But you’re giving space to recipients to respond when and if they are ready.