When you think about life there is so much to celebrate: the excitement of newborn life, the engagement of the soon-to-be-wed, the accomplishment of school, or a job promotion! From the small mundane moments all the way to hallmark occasions, life is full of opportunities to celebrate and be a part of shared experiences. 

However, there is one aspect of life that will affect every person currently walking on this earth and is in many ways just as much a shared experience as anything else, and that is death. Death is part of the life cycle and it is a difficult time that all people have to face. 

Death is also unique in that people will deal with it multiple times throughout their life and in a variety of different ways. For instance, death can affect someone personally by taking a loved one that had a huge impact on them; or, death can have a more peripheral effect by taking a loved one of a loved one, leaving you to care for a dear friend who is grieving a loss you can’t quite relate to. 

One method of dealing with death in community circles that has been tried and true throughout the ages is by sending sympathy, condolence messages. This is something that humans have been doing in some form or another since they have been dealing with the societal effects of death itself. 

But what is a condolence message and how do you write one? How do you know what to say and what goes into making sure that your message has the desired effect? Here is everything you need to know about sympathy condolence messages and some examples of the most popular ones. 

What Is a Condolence Message?

The first step to understanding how to send a condolence message to a person or loved one you know who is experiencing grief and sadness is to understand exactly what a condolence message is. A condolence message is a short message that you can send to a person you know who is personally experiencing a time of grief that conveys acknowledgment of their loss and sincere sympathies for their painful and sad time. 

A condolence message is not overly complicated and is not lengthy or unnecessarily wordy. Now, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to how to write a condolence message for someone in a time of sorrow, however, the timing for when these messages are appropriate is typically why they are best left as brief as possible in the form of short condolence messages. 

A condolence message is going to be sent in conjunction with the circulating news of the departed. This means that a loved one who is experiencing loss will have a window of time where they can expect several condolence and sympathy messages.

When a person is experiencing grief, it is important for them to know that they are not alone. A sympathy message sending your deepest condolences can do just that, however, because of the volume of messages and the fact that dealing with grief is hard, keeping the messages short is a good thing. You never want to send someone who is grieving a message that might make them feel guilty if they don’t have time to read your heartfelt sympathies.   

If you have a desire to share a lengthier message of sincere condolences with a loved one who is experiencing grief, then timing should be your friend. Waiting for an opportune time, maybe after the formal steps regarding their loss have taken place, might be a better step than sending an initial sympathy message that is of substantial length. 

Here are some pointers and examples for what goes into a good sympathy condolence message. 

You are Aware of Their Loss and Pain

This is one of the most fundamental aspects of a condolence message. It needs to communicate that you are aware of the fact that they have experienced some level of loss and are currently undergoing grief. 

This can look like a lot of different things as you know the relationship between yourself and the person receiving the condolence message. Typically, these messages are kept formal and this part of the message is almost always kept succinct and to the point. 

A simple condolence message that states this information would look like this:

“I heard about your loss”, or “I’m shocked by the news,” or even, “My heart aches for what you are going through. They were had a beautiful soul”. 

This aspect of the message is important as acknowledging grief in your loved one who is experiencing the loss is a way of allowing them to know that you acknowledge and respect what they are going through. Grief is unique for every person and no two people handle loss, suffering, and bereavement the exact same way. So making sure your loved one knows that they are recognized but also allowed to have their own unique experience is important. 

You Offer Your Condolence

Once you have acknowledged the loss, it is important to offer up your sincerest condolences. Condolence by definition is an expression of sympathy. This is most often used in regards to death, however, it is not always the case. 

Here are some common words of condolence:

“My deepest sympathies”, “My heartfelt condolences” or, “ My heart goes out to you”, or even taking a step further and sympathizing directly with their pain, “I’m hurting with you through this”

The most important thing to remember when offering up condolences is to allow your loved ones to have their own experience. This means that your own personal experiences with death are not appropriate at this time to cite. 

For example, if you are comforting a loved one who lost a parent and you also have been through a similar situation, there may be a time to pull from your own experience in order to comfort your loved one, but a condolence message is not it. In this situation, do not cite your own experience by mentioning your own journey with a similar loss. Allow their journey and experience to be uniquely theirs. Most likely your own experience and grateful memories can be used powerfully, but it needs to be used appropriately. 

Offer Your Assistance

The last part of a condolence message is to offer up your assistance as you see it appropriate. For everyone, this looks a little different, but it should be a part of your message. Following the guidelines of keeping your message short and general, leaving yourself open to help in any way possible doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Ending your message of condolence with a phrase such as “ Please let me know if I can help in any way”, is a very appropriate way to off up assistance. 

Lastly, End With a Note of Intentionality

Be intentional about sending your condolence message or sympathy quotes with a note that lets your loved ones know they are loved and being thought of after letting their loved one’s soul rest. The journey of grief and loss can be a lonely one full of tears, especially at the beginning, so letting your loved ones know that they are in your thoughts and prayers can be a huge encouragement to them as they move through the process of a funeral and the grief and loss.

Remember That Your Message of Condolence is Important

The task of letting a loved one experiencing grief and loss know that they are loved and cared for can be daunting. It’s intimidating to think about trying to give someone you care about who is hurting words that will help to heal and not accidentally further the pain. 

Not only is it common to be afraid of somehow making the situation worse, but it’s also common to feel like you don’t have any words to share at all. Staring at the blank inside of a sympathy card and wondering what to write is an experience that everyone has had. 

The most important thing that you can remember when sending a condolence message in the form of a text message or card is that it is important. Just breathe in and out, let go of your anxieties and do your best. Keeping your message short, about the other person, and being careful to not compare their situation to your own similar situations are all great, easy guidelines to ensure you write a message of impact.  

Also, putting in the time to make sure that you are happy with your message is important for your sake. If a loved one is hurting due to grief and loss, this affects you as well. You want to help and you want to know that you did all that you could to help out. 

Feeling confused or worried when a loved one is going through grief is normal. So be sure that you write something you can walk away from knowing you did your best. Your loved one will be encouraged by hearing from you, and that is the most important thing! 


Complicated grief - Symptoms and causes |  MayoClinic

Etymology, origin, and meaning of condolence | etymonline 

What is grief? | Mayo Clinic