Are you struggling to write an out-of-office message for your work email? Let us help. We know that every situation is different and that you may not feel comfortable sharing aspects of your personal life with colleagues and clients.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Should You Include in an Out of Office Message for Bereavement or a Funeral?
- Example Out of Office Messages for Bereavement or a Funeral
- How Do You Respond to an Out of Office Message for Bereavement or a Funeral?
Read through some samples to get an idea about an out-of-office message for bereavement when you have to take off work after a death or a family emergency.
Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, the emotional and technical aspects of handling their unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
What Should You Include in an Out of Office Message for Bereavement or a Funeral?
You can create a brief message (voice, text, or email) and include the following information:
- Your name and job title
- Your out of office message
- The anticipated date you will return
- Contact information for who will cover for you while you are away
Remember that you may not be thinking clearly — a common occurrence for anyone in the throes of grief. Because of this, you might want to have a coworker glance at your message to make sure it covers all the bases and makes sense. Some people also tend to overshare personal information right after a loss.
Example Out of Office Messages for Bereavement or a Funeral
Have you contacted your human resources department to learn about your company’s bereavement leave policy? Having this knowledge may help you determine how long you can leave the office after a loved one’s death. This information may help you as you write your out-of-office message.
Some people must write their message quickly and may not know when they will return. Consider including this information in your message so that others know that it is necessary to reach out to others for help.
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Out of office messages for a funeral
First, we will give you ideas on what to say if you plan to leave the office to attend a funeral. Choose the scenario most appropriate for your situation.
1. “Thank you for your message. I will be out of the office today, January 15. Please contact Emily Walrus at (email address) for immediate assistance.”
If you plan to miss work for one day to go to a funeral of an acquaintance, an extended family member, or a friend’s loved one, you may not need to write that you will be out of the office for a funeral.
Disclosing this unnecessary information would force the person responding to your message to ask about the death or offer condolences that may not seem warranted.
2. “I’m sorry, but I will not be able to return your message until the week of Monday, April 3. I am out of town to attend a family funeral. If you need immediate assistance, reach out to my assistant Cathy at (email or phone number).”
This email sends a clear message that nobody should bother you until you return to work. Some people do not disclose that they will leave town through work correspondence or social media posts.
3. “Thank you for reaching out to me. I am out of the office to attend my great-grandma’s funeral. I will return your call tomorrow, January 17.”
You may want others to know that you recently suffered a loss and may feel like you should include that fact in your message.
4. “I am out of the office today, June 17, to attend a funeral. If you need assistance with tech support or sales, contact Bill Lamb at (email address). I will answer all other questions when I return to the office tomorrow.”
If part of your work is time-sensitive, you may need to specify what questions warrant an additional email and which ones don’t.
Out of office messages for a longer bereavement leave
Do you receive a lot of emails from customers and the general public while at work, or is most of your correspondence from people you know? This will certainly determine what kind of out-of-office message for a lengthy bereavement period.
Check out some samples of out-of-office messages if you must miss work for an extended period.
5. “Thank you for contacting me. I am out of the office for a family emergency and plan to return Monday, March 24. I’ll check my emails periodically, but if you need immediate assistance, contact Bruce Miller at (email address or phone number).”
You may not wish to disclose that a death has occurred in your family. If this is the case, you can appropriately label it a “family emergency” — because it is.
6. “I am unexpectedly out of the office due to a death in the family. I am not yet sure of my return date. Please contact Mark Church at (email or phone number) while I am gone.”
A person receiving this message will get a clear picture that you are not available for work-related matters right now.
7. “I am on bereavement leave until May 13. Your email has been automatically forwarded to my supervisor, Marcia Coupe. You may encounter longer-than-usual wait times for a return email. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”
You might find it difficult to ask for bereavement leave. It’s also challenging to know how long you may need before you are ready to return to work following a death. Hopefully, your supervisor will show empathy to your situation when you have to miss work because of a death in your immediate family.
8. “Due to a family matter, I will be gone from the office until further notice. All of my emails have been forwarded to my colleagues Mark Planter and Jill Reece.”
Of course, you do not need to disclose the circumstances behind your family matter.
9. “I will be gone for bereavement leave until spring. While I will have access to my email and voice messages, please understand that it may take time for me to respond. For immediate assistance, talk with Angel Warrant at (phone number).”
You don't even need to give a specific date for your return, especially if you don't know.
How Do You Respond to an Out of Office Message for Bereavement or a Funeral?
You may find yourself on the other end of this form of communication. We've included some ideas on how to respond to an out-of-office message if the recipient is on bereavement leave.
10. “I am so sorry to hear about the death of your great-grandmother. How amazing that you were able to have a relationship with her! Please know that I am thinking of you and the rest of your family. I’ll call you next week to discuss the tech support options for the XJ4-1000.”
You might want to offer condolences to someone you've met casually in business a few times.
11. “I am sorry for your loss. Please disregard the previous message — I was able to resolve the situation on my own.”
Think about how many emails you have in your inbox after missing a week of work. Have empathy for the person on leave for bereavement by using alternative means to answer your question or fix a problem.
12. “I didn’t realize you were on bereavement leave. Please accept my sincerest condolences for your loss.”
You may not know the specifics of the death, but you can respond to the email with genuine words of sympathy.
13. “Thinking of you and your family during this difficult time.”
You may want to send a card, a plant, or donate to the memorial fund for your coworker or work acquaintance.
Be Open to Asking for Help
Those with an independent spirit and can-do attitude have a difficult time giving up control. You may struggle if you recently lost a loved one and have trouble giving up control.
You may have to choose a final resting place for your loved one, plan your loved one’s funeral, and settle the estate, all while dealing with the myriad emotions that come from loss. You may also have to learn to let go of some of your control at work and rely on your colleagues to step up while you assist your family during this tumultuous time.
Grieving a loss can change your life. You may find that your attitude about work and family remains altered after going through this experience.