How to Write a Sympathy Letter For Loss of a Mother + Examples

Updated

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Sometimes people prefer to write condolence letters or sympathy letters to someone who recently lost a family member. There are many reasons why.

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Sometimes, people have a difficult time showing their emotions in front of other people. If you feel that you are unable to speak without breaking down into tears, you may consider writing your thoughts in a letter to someone who lost their mom. 

Below are the steps for writing a sympathy letter to a friend who lost their mom. If you want to offer some practical support, consider sharing our post-loss checklist with your friend or family member who's coping with the death of their mother. 

Steps for Writing a Sympathy Letter to a Loved One Who Lost Their Mom

There are no hard and fast rules for writing a sympathy letter. But since this is not something that you write every day, we would like to walk you through the process. 

Keep in mind that the loss of a mother or father is particularly difficult for many people. It brings with it a wide variety of complicated emotions that may include anger, fear, jealousy, and deep grief. It doesn’t matter if the death came after a long illness or if it was unexpected. Losing a mom is hard, no matter the situation. 

Step 1: Consider writing a hand-written note

We know that you may be cringing at the idea of writing a hand-written note, but it shows that you made an extra effort to show support to your friend. 

When someone gives a hand-written note, they also had to go to the trouble of finding stationery, an envelope, the address, and a stamp. Handwritten letters also offer a personal touch that emails and texts don’t have. Finally, people keep handwritten notes. Few people go through the effort to print out email messages to tuck away in a special place.

If you are concerned about writing a note without the benefit of grammar and spell check, first write the message on your computer. Then copy the text from the computer to the stationery or card. 

Step 2: Write the note immediately

Don’t wait around to send a condolence letter to your friend. This gives the impression that you care about them, but you don’t care enough to drop what you are doing to write them a note. 

Of course, this may not be helped if you find out about the death long after the event. In that case, explain this in the first part of your letter. Write, “I am so sorry that I didn’t write sooner, but I just came across your mom’s obituary. Please accept my sincerest sympathies. She was a great lady.”

Step 3: Offer your sympathy

Most people begin a condolence letter by offering sympathy. Consider writing, “I was sorry to hear about . . .” or “Please accept my sincerest sympathy . . .” You may even include the ubiquitous phrase, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Step 4: Get the relationship right

Sometimes people are tasked with writing a sympathy note to someone they don’t know well, like an employee or a friend they don’t see very often. If this is the case, make sure you understand the precise relationship between the person in mourning and the person who died. 

Don’t write, “I’m sorry to hear about your mother’s death,” if the person who passed away was actually a mother-in-law or step-mother. Doing so makes it seem as if you don’t care enough to get the details right.

Step 5: Share a memory of the deceased

One of the greatest gifts that you can give to someone who lost a family member is to share a happy, positive, funny memory of the person or offer a sincere compliment about them. If you had the opportunity to meet the deceased, try to share a specific memory. 

Even if you never had the opportunity to meet the deceased, you may remember an anecdote about her. You could use the story in the sympathy note if appropriate.

Step 6: Keep it brief

Don’t feel as if you need to make philosophical comments about life and death in your letter. The best letters are heartfelt and straightforward. If you want to make your message a little more thoughtful, you may include a quote about death.

Step 7: Keep your friend’s spiritual beliefs in mind when writing the letter

If you know that your friend has different spiritual beliefs than you, you may want to refrain from discussing those beliefs in the letter. Instead, focus on including appropriate words of sympathy for the loss of a mother

Step 8: Be mindful of what you write

The goal of your message is to let the reader know that you are thinking of them. This is not the time to offer advice, compare their sympathy with yours, or tell your friend that they will “get over” their grief. Don’t ruin a thoughtful letter by including insensitive comments or phrases. 

Step 9: Offer help

If you are close friends with the individual, you may suggest “getting together” for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine in a few weeks. When you see them for the first time after the death of a loved one, don’t ignore the situation.

Give your friend a chance to talk about their loss, but try not to push the conversation in that direction if you can see your friend is uncomfortable.

What do you do after someone dies?

Follow the guidance of our post loss checklist.


Example Sympathy Letters for the Loss of a Mother

Sometimes it’s easier to write something after looking at an example. Here are some snippets of condolence letters to consider before writing your own.

To a friend

Dear Becky,

I was sorry to hear about your mom. I’m sure you are devastated right now, and I wish there were something I could do to take some of your pain away.

I have many fond memories of your mom. I used to love going to your house after school because your mom always had the best treats. Do you remember how she would serve us Kool-Aid in real china cups? I still think of your mom every time I taste a vanilla wafer. 

Again, I am so sorry, my friend. Your mom was a remarkable woman. It was a pleasure to have known her. 

To a family member

Dear Julie,

I was so sad to hear about Aunt Jane. She was a wonderful, classy woman, and I always looked up to her. I always envied her high heels and power business suits. She was the first professional woman I knew, and she inspired me to make goals and aim high.

I’m so sorry that I cannot attend the funeral. It is on the same day as my daughter’s high school graduation; otherwise, I would be there. Please send my love to the rest of the family.

I would like to come for a visit the week following the funeral. I have a lot of memories to share about Aunt Jane, and I would love to see you. Can we get together for lunch?

To coworker or acquaintance

Dear Michael,

I was sorry to hear about the recent loss of your mother. Losing a family member is difficult, and I wanted to let you know that we are all thinking of you at work.

Although I never had the pleasure of meeting your mom, I always enjoyed your stories about growing up on the farm in Nebraska. Your family sounds like an exceptional group of people. You are lucky to have such a loving group surround you during this difficult time. 

Please take as long as you need before returning to the office. Family responsibilities always come first, and you need to take time to heel. I will check in with your clients, and keep things running smoothly during your absence. 

Choose Love and Support

When writing a sympathy note, it is always best to think about what kind of message you would like to receive. Would you want the death of your mother to be compared with someone else’s loss? Would you want someone to imply that you must be “relieved” that your mom died after having such a long illness?

When someone is in a highly emotive state, it is important to be delicate when choosing your words. Always offer condolences, sympathy, love, and support. 

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