How to Express Condolences via Email
Condolences typically were given at a funeral or via handwritten notes or cards, but with the invention of the internet, many have turned to email and online messaging as a way to express their condolences. Sending condolences is customary after someone dies, and most people will appreciate you getting in touch.
How do you express condolences?
In general, you express condolences by letting someone know you’re sorry for their loss, by letting them know you’re there to support them, and acknowledge the difficult time they’re going through. There are many different ways you can word this, but these are some key elements that come through in many condolences.
When expressing your condolences, try to remain as genuine and authentic as possible. Don’t try to describe how important and special and unique someone was if you’ve never met them; stick to what you know and be authentic. If authenticity means sending only a short paragraph that lets someone know you’re there to support them, then stick to that. It's also important to keep in mind the context in which you're expressing condolences. For example, it's likely appropriate to express condolences to a coworker, acquaintance, or other distanced relation. However, it may be better to express condolences in person or over the phone if you have a closer relationship with someone (such as a friend or family member).
How to express condolences in email
Expressing condolences over email will shift depending on your relationship with the recipient. For example, the type of condolence email you’d send to a new boss can be much more sterile or professional when compared to the type of email you’d send to your close friend who recently lost someone. The condolence email will also be informed by your own relationship with the person who passed away.
Keep the following tips in mind when sending your condolences through email:
- Just because you’re sending an email doesn’t mean you can’t also send a handwritten note. Many appreciate the extra step and gesture that a handwritten note offers after losing someone.
- Try to avoid sending condolence emails that are extremely short or use a lot of abbreviations or “text speech” when someone has lost someone. This can come off as disrespectful or unkind.
- Be sure to check your spelling and grammar, you want a condolence email to look like you put time and effort into it.
- If you can’t think of anything to say, look to the internet for help! There are some condolence phrases later in this article and you can find more information on how to offer condolences here.
Condolence message to a friend
Perhaps the person you’re thinking of is a friend or close acquaintance that you’re considering sending a sorry for your loss email to. In this case, the email can be less formal and a bit more casual since the relationship is different. If the person you’re writing to is a close friend, you may want to consider getting on the phone with them or asking to meet in person to express your sympathies and willingness to support them, but in the meantime, sending a condolences email is a good step to take.
Here’s an example of a condolence message you might send to a close friend:
Subject: I’m so sorry for your loss
[Friend’s first name],
I just found out about [deceased’s first name] and I wanted to send over my condolences. I am so sorry to hear that [he/she/they] passed away, I know this is unimaginably difficult for you. [He/she] was a [describe deceased’s personality] and I remember you speaking of [him/her/them] so often. I never had the opportunity to meet [him/her], but I know I would’ve loved them like everyone else did.
I am here to support you in any way I can. I know you have a lot on your plate right now, so I want to [suggest a way you can help]. Please let me know if that’s alright and what time works best for you to have me do that.
All my love, [Your name]
Sending condolences in a business setting
Expressing your sympathies or condolences to a coworker, colleague or boss can feel uncomfortable or out of place. Maybe you’re not that close and aren’t sure if you should say something. Maybe you’re new to the team and haven’t established a relationship with someone. Or maybe you’ve been on the team for a long time but have never had to engage emotionally with someone else on the team. In any case, sending a condolence email to a colleague can feel stressful. Regardless of the level of intimacy or closeness you may have, it’s generally good practice to send condolences or express your sympathies after someone you know has lost someone -- even if you aren’t very close.
Here are some examples of business condolences letters you can use in a professional setting:
Example condolence email to coworker
Condolence emails sent to coworkers should be supportive, respectful, and kind, even if you don’t really know them or the person they’ve lost.
Subject: [Deceased’s first name]’s passing
I wanted to send my condolences as I’ve just heard about the loss of [deceased’s name]. I’m so, so sorry for your loss and want you to know that I am here for you. I didn’t know [deceased’s first name] very well, but I do remember you speaking about them often and fondly. I hope you know that I’m here for you during this difficult time and am always available to chat, go out for a coffee or a drink, anything you need.
Best, [Your name]
Example condolence email to boss
A condolence email sent to your boss should remain professional, but supportive. You can personalize this example to your level of comfortability.
Subject: My condolences for your loss
[Boss’s first name],
I’ve just learned about the passing of [deceased’s first name] and wanted to send over my heartfelt condolences. I’m so sorry for your loss and how difficult this must be for you. Please know that we are here to support you in any way we can during this time. I’m more than happy to take on any project you need to offload during this time, please just let me know.
All my sympathy, [First name]
Condolences email subject lines & sign-offs
Here are some examples of email subject lines to use in your condolences emails:
Subject: Wishing you well during this difficult time
Subject: Sending my love and support to you and yours
Subject: Thinking of you and yours
Subject: Thinking of you and your family
Subject: [Name] was an incredible person
Subject: Just heard about [name]’s passing
Subject: My condolences
Subject: Thinking of [name]
Subject: I’m so sorry for your loss
Subject: I’m sorry for your loss
Subject: Sending my support
Subject: I’m here for you
Subject: We’re here for you
Subject: I’m here to help
Subject: Thinking of you Subject: I'm here for you and yours Subject: I'm always available
Here are some examples of closings or sign-offs you can use in a condolence email:
With utmost sympathy,
Thinking of you,
All my love,
All my warmth,
With all my love and warmth,
With our thoughts and prayers,
From my family to yours,
With hugs and kisses,
If you’re looking for elements to include in your condolence message and aren’t sure where to start, here are some sentences or common phrases you’d find in a condolence:
- “[Deceased’s name] was an incredible [woman/man/person]. [She/He] will be intensely missed.”
- “I want you to know that I’m sharing in your grief as you process this loss. You are not alone and are surrounded by many who love both you and [deceased’s name].”
- “Please accept my deepest condolences as you remember the life of [deceased’s name].”
- “Our team is mourning alongside you and keeping you in our thoughts during this difficult time.”
- “I am so very sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.”
- “Sending loving energy your way. You are in my deepest thoughts and prayers during such a difficult time. I am so sorry for your loss.”
- “Wishing for you to be surrounded by love at this difficult time.”
- “I am thinking of you and yours during this incredibly difficult time. Please accept my sincerest sympathies.”
- “I was saddened to hear about the loss of your [parent/sister/brother/sibling/grandparent/other relationship]. My thoughts are with you, your family, and your community.”
- “I wanted to express my sincere condolences, I’ve just learned of the passing of [deceased’s name]. I’m so sorry for your loss and I’m thinking of you and yours during this time.”
For some examples of more personalized or in depth condolences, see below:
- “Thinking of you and yours during this difficult time, I am with you in spirit. I’ve made some meals and would like to drop them off, please just let me know when is a convenient time for you.”
- “Please know that I’m thinking of the life of your [relation] and mourning the loss of [his/her/them] with you.”
- “I know you have a lot to deal with and work through right now and I wanted you to know that I am here to help in any way that I can. How about [dropping the kids off / letting me feed the dogs / coming by my house / staying at my cabin / getting out of town] for the next few days? I want to help you during this time. Please let me know.”
- “[First name] touched the lives of countless people with every second of every day. Those who had the opportunity to know [him/her] knew that they were a special soul. Thinking of you on this day.”
- “[Name] lived an incredibly full life. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know [her/him] and to have been surrounded by [his/her] family during these last few years.”
- “I wanted to reach out and let you know that I’m here for you, in any capacity, during this difficult time. I’m available to help make meals, help with the house, pick up the kids from school, all of it. Just let me know and I’ll be there.”
- “[First name] was an incredible [woman/man/person] and one that will be remembered until the end of time. I can only hope to bring as much joy into this world as [he/she/they] did.”
- “We want you to know that you are in our deepest thoughts and prayers right now. Please give me a good time to stop by so that I can help you take care of [the house/the car/the kids/other].”
- “I know you’re dealing with a lot right now and I wanted to send my deepest condolences and sympathies. I also wanted to offer our home to [your kids/ your dogs/ your family/ you] during this time, even if it’s just for you to have a moment of peace. Let me know when is a good time for you and we will make it work.”
- “[Name] was a good (great!) person and an amazing [father/mother/husband/wife]. I thought [his/her] services were beautiful. What an amazing tribute to a life well lived. [He/She] will be missed.”
If you’ve recently lost someone (or know of someone who has recently suffered a loss), it’s a good idea to consider creating a memorial website. Memorial websites are easy to create, easy to use, and provide a space for connection, healing and support after someone passes away. Many people want to offer their condolences and may be prevented from doing so (not everyone will have your email address). Memorial websites let visitors post photos, memories, condolences, and keep up to date with important funeral or memorial events.