Condolence emails target training

Condolence Emails: Phrases and Structure

Writing condolence emails can be difficult

Have you ever had to write a condolence email to a colleague?  Writing to people about these topics obviously requires considerable diplomacy and the right choice of words. Broadly speaking most condolence emails have three steps. (Often only one sentence each).

3 Steps for writing condolence emails

1.  Acknowledge the death

2.  Sympathize

3.  Offer support

Of course, there is no set format for writing these kinds of emails- it largely depends on how much you want to say and how well you know the person. Below are two examples of an email / short letter to someone who has had the death of a family member recently.

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Examples of a condolence email


Dear John Smith,
I was deeply saddened to hear of your Mother’s death recently. Although I didn’t know her personally,
I hope that you will accept my most sincere sympathy and condolences. I truly hope that you and your family can gather the strength and courage to endure during this difficult time.
If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.


Dear Tom Atkinson,
I was saddened to hear of Bill’s death. I hope that you will accept my most sincere sympathy and condolences. Bill was such a well-liked person and it is difficult to accept that he is not with us any longer.
If there is anything I can do for you at this difficult time, please let me know.

Simple religious sentiments may also be appropriate if you knew the colleague had faith. For example:

  • They / You are in my thoughts and prayers.
  • May God bless you and your family during this time.
  • May the comfort of God help you during this difficult time.
  • Kevin’s kind soul and giving spirit touched so many and will never be forgotten.
  • May God watch over your family during your time of need.

Alternate expressions to use for ‘death’

  • I’m sorry for your loss.
  • I understand that your ________ recently passed away.
  • I hope that ________is now at peace. ( for someone who had illness before death)
  • I would like to extend my sympathies for your recent bereavement.

Writing a condolence email can be a sensitive topic. By using the tips and phrases above, you can make sure your condolence emails are as thoughtful and professional as possible.  For more help with improving your writing at work, click here.