Writing a memorial card: 12 tips for a tactful expression of condolences
Table of Contents
- Writing a memorial card: 12 tips for a tactful expression of condolences
Writing condolences: 12 tips
- The right time for a letter of condolence
- Take the time to write your condolences
- The right choice of complementary mourning sayings
- Stay simple
- The personal level
- Content of the condolences
- Avoid theatrics
- The appropriate length of your condolences
- Your handwriting
- Expression of condolences: by post or not?
- Money in a show of condolences
- 7 sentences to initiate a condolence expression
- 7 examples of mourning messages and quotes in your condolences
Death is a sensitive issue and each relative grieves differently. Writing a pious expression of condolences or a memorial card is a challenge for many people. How to write a remembrance message. Here are 12 tips to help you express your empathy appropriately.
Writing condolences: 12 tips
In the course of their lives, every person comes into a situation in which they have to say goodbye to a loved one. When writing condolences, consider what you would like to hear in such a situation. The following tips will help you avoid typical incorrect formulations and hit the right note.
The right time for a letter of condolence
If you hear about someone who has passed away, you should act as soon as possible. Be it the wife of a work colleague or the mother of a friend of yours. You don’t even have to have known the person personally – it’s about bringing comfort to the bereaved, after all. Therefore, you should act quickly and not wait until the first days of mourning are over. It is unpleasant for relatives to receive condolences many days after the funeral, as it is always upsetting for them. So it is never too early to send a letter of condolence.
Take the time to write your condolences
It is especially important to take enough time when writing condolences. Because only with the right sensitivity and long deliberation is it possible to formulate the right words yourself. Time should also be invested in choosing additional quotes or sayings that can be written on the card. You can efficiently write a remembrance message.
The right choice of complementary mourning sayings
A supplementary mourning or a quote that appears next to the text you have written yourself must be carefully selected. In principle, there is something beautiful and poetic about adding such a text. However, you shouldn’t overdo it and really only stick to a mourning phrase or quote. An overcrowded grief card can quickly become banal and ridiculous. You could give the mourners the impression that you didn’t care about the death of the person or that you didn’t make an effort and wrote random sayings on the card.
There is no need for decorations or decorative drawings to show your condolences to loved ones. You could get the wrong message across that you enjoyed writing the condolences and that it offends family and friends. A simple and neat arrangement of your words corresponds to the sad mood you want to convey with your card. Likewise, you shouldn’t do handicrafts. This has a hobby character and could also give the impression of fun. Write on plain or classy stationery or buy a condolence card. You can find them in every supermarket or in the drugstore.
Tip: If you’d like to personalize your memorial card in some way, you can paste a photo into it. It is important to choose a natural motif. Either a photo of the deceased that the family does not yet know because you took it or a nature motif with a calm atmosphere is suitable for this. Landscapes, a photo of a grave or flowers are suitable here. To maintain simplicity, the photo can be developed in black and white.
The personal level
In order to write an appealing expression of condolences, it is important to include the personal level and assess your relationship to the deceased and to the relatives. If you’ve lost a good friend and you’re writing a memorial card for their family, you can express your dismay much more openly than with a work colleague or acquaintance.
Stiff and well-positioned words are usually less comforting than a simple and believable expression of condolences. Of course, you should think carefully about what you want to write beforehand, but it often helps to just let your feelings run free and be honest. The relatives will recognize when your nice words come from the heart and are more happy about them than a plain and simple saying without reference to the deceased.
Content of the condolences
The exact content of your condolences is of course up to you. Nevertheless, we give some food for thought here. You can use it when you don’t know how to start your bereavement card or when you have doubts about forgetting something.
For example, if the deceased was a little closer to you, you could share a story that you shared. Memories of positive character traits in this person are also good food for thought and can also be a good introduction to expressing condolences. When did he / she impress you or what will you always remember? Personal experiences are very authentic and will not harm the family if they are carefully worded and tactful.
Show sympathy with the bereaved and offer your support. A small sentence here can mean a lot for the family. Especially when older women or men are left alone, it is a nice gesture to offer your help. Whether or not this is used depends on your relationship with the recipient. In any case, you should consider the possibility and mean your support seriously.
To show empathy and compassion in your condolences, include wishes for the future. This is important to remind the bereaved that life goes on even after a loved one dies. Care must be taken to ensure that the loss is not dismissed in an insensitive manner, but that understanding is shown for the current grief. Example sentences that bring the necessary sensitivity and that you can use for orientation are:
- I wish you the necessary time to mourn and say goodbye and also strength to look to the future again.
- I wish you and your family from the bottom of my heart that you have the strength you need to face the future with confidence and hope, despite the loss that is so painful for you.
Showing condolences should be compassionate and comforting, not heartbreaking. Therefore renounce any theatrics. Your job is to understand the grief, but also to alleviate it. Words like “terrible death” or “agonizing demise” should be avoided at all costs. Even if you’re wondering how a family is going to survive such a loss, never speak out. The aim is not to create a depressed feeling of hopelessness, but to encourage. Advice on how the bereaved should mourn is also inappropriate.
The appropriate length of your condolences
In any case, your letter of condolence should contain a few lines. A single sentence is unlikely to give the bereaved much comfort. It seems like you don’t really care how they’re doing. In addition, the short time it takes to write this sentence could also offend you.
Your grief card shouldn’t be too long either. Mourners have enough condolences to read and are reminded of the death of their loved one every time. Try to find a good mediocrity. The map shouldn’t look too empty, but it shouldn’t be too crowded either. Again, it can help to empathize with the bereaved and think about what you would be happy about in their situation.
Your handwriting doesn’t matter in the first place. Of course, you should make an effort not to callously scribble your condolences on the card. First and foremost, however, it is a matter of taking the trouble to even handwrite the condolences. If you type and print out a memorial card on the computer, it has little personal value for the relatives. They might even go so far as to think that you sent out a firm show of condolences that you use every time someone dies. In addition, you should always sign in person. If the deceased or family members know people in your family, it is always nice if you write their names on the memorial card as well.
Expression of condolences: by post or not?
Nowadays it is not unreasonable to come up with the idea of expressing condolences via WhatsApp, SMS or e-mail. Nevertheless, it should be taken into account that these media have not yet reached all generations. Short text messages should be avoided, especially when older people belong to the group of the bereaved. It’s always nicer to hold a classic letter of condolence in your hand than when your grandmother’s granddaughter reads a WhatsApp message about her husband’s death.
A written expression of condolences by post expresses effort and thus also donates long-term consolation, as it can be kept. A digital message not only appears impersonal, but also gives the impression that the bereaved were not worth writing a handwritten letter for them. Another problem is that there isn’t a particularly tactful way to donate money this way. Asking for the account details for a donation in a WhatsApp message is a no-go.
Tip: If you are a little closer to the bereaved, phone calls or a visit are a great alternative. They are a welcome change from reading the letters of condolence on a daily basis.
Money in a show of condolences
The subject of money in a condolence letter is controversial. In some regions it is quite appropriate to support the family or the funeral service with a donation. Others find it tasteless and feel offended. The easiest way to donate money is to put the money neatly (and tightly sealed) in the envelope or card. Write a remembrance message is crucial.
The second possibility to support the family with a donation is if you enclose a voucher for a flower supplier or a cemetery gardener. A single order for a flower arrangement for the funeral service is also common. Here, however, your name should be somewhere on a ribbon so that you know from whom the donation is coming.
In the case of an urn burial, the relatives often do not want any flower gifts because of the limited space. Find out in advance or look at the obituary notice. When a donation to a social institution is asked, you can include the receipt or receipt with your condolences.
7 sentences to initiate a condolence expression
Many people find it difficult to begin expressing condolences. Formulating a perfect first sentence often takes time. So that you can find the right words, we have some inspirations for you. First of all, of course, you should not forget the salutation (Dear Lotti, … / Dear Anneliese, dear Werner …, / Dear Berg family …).
- … unfortunately it is a very sad occasion to write these lines.
- … it is so difficult to find suitable and comforting words.
- … the world has lost a loved one.
- … very concerned and still completely under the impression of the sudden passing, it is difficult to find the right words.
- … in these difficult hours of falling apart I accompany you in my thoughts.
- … it is very difficult to find words of comfort when someone who has accompanied us part of our journey says goodbye forever.
- … only when someone close to us or loved – and then much too early – leaves us do we become painfully aware that we are not immortal.
7 examples of mourning messages and quotes in your condolences
If you cannot find the right words to say goodbye to a loved one yourself, it is helpful to refer to quotes and funeral sayings. Careful selection should be made here in order to convey the right message and neither to come too close to the relatives nor to appear too distant. The personal relationship should always be kept in mind. When choosing a quote or saying for the notice of death, (even prominent) quotes can be a really nice alternative to your own words. It is only important that the deceased could have identified with the quote. How to write a remembrance message?
- The most beautiful monument that a person can get is in the hearts of others. (Albert Schweitzer)
- There is a time for everything in life, a time of joy, silence, sadness and a time of grateful remembrance.
- When you look at the sky at night, you will feel as if all the stars are laughing, because I live on one of them, because I laugh on one of them. (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)
- Few people are truly alive, and those who are never die. It does not matter that you are not here anymore. Nobody you really love is ever dead. (Ernest Hemingway)
- The only important thing in life is the traces of love we leave behind when we go away. (Albert Schweitzer)
- You are no longer where you were, but you are everywhere we are.
- And there are always traces of your life, thoughts, images and moments. They will remind us of you, make us happy and sad and never let you forget.