How To Write a Note of Condolence

What You Say To Someone Who’s Bereaved
by Gene Griessman, Ph.D.

Sometimes less is more, and that certainly can be true when you express sympathy to someone who’s just lost a loved one. I know I felt that way when my beloved daughter died. One of the most touching messages that came to me was an email that was only one sentence long.  (That email is described in a previous post on

Truth be told, if you say too much, you can blunder on and say something that bruises rather than heals. So do not feel you have to be wordy, whether in person or in the note, letter, or email that you write.

Here is a wonderful expression from one of my very favorite TV shows “Downton Abbey.” Briefly, this is the setting. Matthew Crawley’s fiancée Lavinia Swire has died suddenly of the Spanish flu. Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, expresses his heartfelt sympathy to Matthew with this simple statement: “I cannot find the words to tell you how sorry I am.”


It would be harder to say or write anything better than that.

–Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and consultant. His video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions all over the world. To learn more about his services, contact us at 404-256-5927, 404-435-2225, or Learn more about Gene Griessman at and

Don’t leave yet. Check out at least one other article. You’re already here. Why rush off? is full of good advice. We guarantee you’ll be a better communicator if you invest more time here.



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