How should you send a condolence email

Letters of condolence: Write stylishly and according to modern labeling rules

How to write letters of condolence stylishly and according to modern labeling rules

Writing letters of condolence is undoubtedly one of the most difficult and sensitive tasks in the secretariat. If a faux pas happens to you here, it is far more embarrassing than in daily correspondence. It takes a lot of empathy to hit the right note, but label rules must also be observed.

In this practical guide: "Tactical letters of condolence" you will therefore find supportive tips, step-by-step instructions and wording examples that will help you to write tactful letters of condolence for your employees or business partners! But that's not all: The guide also contains complete sample letters for a wide variety of grief situations that you can use directly.

Here are the most important rules and formulations for you at a glance:

Letters of condolence: the most important points to consider when giving condolences

1. The sender

  • For later letters of thanks, there should be a return address on the envelope.

2. The addressee

  • If you have close business partners, send two letters - one to the company's management and one to the bereaved.
  • If the contact was purely business-related and not very personal, a letter to the company is sufficient.

3. The salutation

  • For purely business contacts, write “Dear Ms / Mr”.
  • If you have close relationships, you can also write “Dear Madam, Dear Sir”.

4. The address

  • Do not write “To the house of mourning”, it is out of date.
  • Better: "Ms. or Mr. First name, last name" and "Family X", if you want to address the whole family.

5. The subject

  • A conventional subject has no place here.
  • What's going on: You put a suitable quote in place of the subject.
  • Example: "The most beautiful monument that a person can get is in the hearts of others." (Albert Schweizer)

6. The letterhead

  • Write on white company paper that you also use for representation purposes, i.e. without the usual company data and dictation marks.
  • Black-edged paper is reserved for the house of mourning.
  • Do not use pre-made condolence cards - they seem loveless.

7. PC or handwriting?

  • Today the letter can be written with the PC.
  • However, the salutation, closing formula and signature should be handwritten by the boss if possible.
  • If the relationship with the deceased was very close and personal, the entire letter should be written by hand.
  • In this case, give your boss a text suggestion that he can adhere to.

8. The signature

  • Signature additions such as ppa., I. V. or i. A. absolutely omit.
  • The boss signs it - if it makes sense, together with a second signatory.
  • The job title (for example "managing director") can be set.

9. The shipping method

  • Letters of condolence must be franked with a postage stamp and must never run through the franking machine or be sent by fax.
  • Make sure that no special postage stamps are used - not a good impression if a happy postage stamp turns up in the mourning house.

10. The time factor

  • Your letter must be with the bereaved no later than one week after your death.


Letters of Condolence: How to Find the Right Words

The problem:

  • You don't know the deceased very well and should still write a sensitive letter.
  • Copying old texts is not enough, because they seem impersonal and clearly show that the writer did not really think about it!

3. Steps to Finding the Right Words for a Letter of Condolence

1st step: Find out more

Before you start, find out about the deceased and write down what you want to include in the condolence letter:

  • What did he do - professionally, privately?
  • What was his relationship with the boss?
  • What was he like as a person? (Ask colleagues or the boss if they had more contact with the deceased.)

Step 2: think about it

When you know the basics of what you want to write, imagine having to give your condolences to the loved ones personally.

  • What would you say
  • How would you begin, how would you end?
  • Write that down.

Step 3: Formulate it

You now have a framework for your letter that all you have to do is formulate it.

Tip: Use our text modules for this and adapt them individually.

Finding the right words when condoling can be difficult. To ensure that you always write an appropriate letter of condolence, you will find valuable templates and sample formulations in our free download: "Write condolences". Download it here now!


Condolences: Stylish text modules for condolences

1. Introductory words

  • The news of your husband's death shocked us all.
  • Your wife's sudden death affected me very much.
  • The news of the tragic death of your managing director Peter Meier hit us very hard.
  • The news of the sudden death of your managing director Dr. Josef Konrad is incomprehensible to all of us.
  • The death of your dear wife affected me very much.
  • I am stunned by the severe blow of fate that struck you as a result of the loss of your child.
  • The sad news that your chairman of the supervisory board, Dr. Margit Müller succumbed to her grave suffering, shook us deeply.


2. Words of appreciation

  • He was a role model for many.
  • His commitment and humanity have always been exemplary.
  • Because of her cordial nature, she had many friends among employees.
  • He was a far-sighted businessman with a strong understanding of his employees.
  • Her thoughts were always with other people first.
  • For me he was always a role model and a pioneer.
  • We appreciated each other very much beyond our professional environment.
  • He was more than a business partner - I lost a good friend.
  • Her human warmth, her unmistakable humor paired with high technical ability will never be forgotten by anyone who was connected with her.
  • He will remain unforgettable for us.
  • He left a huge void - we will never forget him.


3. Words of sympathy

  • We mourn a valuable person with you.
  • I can sympathize with how badly you have been hit by the loss.
  • We share with you the pain and grief for your wife.
  • May the fact that you were able to give him peace and strength be a consolation for the time to come.
  • I sincerely wish you that the difficult days ahead will be brightened by the memory of your happy years together.


4. Final words

  • In silent / deep sympathy
  • Sincere condolences
  • In deep / deeply felt sympathy
  • We mourn with you
  • We will miss Rolf Antonius very much.

You can read a sample for a sensitive and stylish letter of condolence in this article: "Letter of condolence: How to express your condolences in style".


Letter of condolence: check the letter before sending it

  • Does my letter come from the heart? Does it express feelings or does it read like the result of a compulsory exercise?
  • Have I paid tribute to the deceased's merits without exaggerating?
  • Didn't I neglect my personal strengths in appraising my professional work?
  • Am I not talking more about my loss than about the person who was actually affected?
  • Is the letter free from commonplace phrases?
  • Isn't the language too theatrical?

Do you have any further questions about an appropriate letter of condolence? Here you will find the most frequently asked questions about letters of condolence and memorial cards as well as detailed answers.