The condolence etiquette

The way in which one expresses his condolences in the case of death.

➀ Condolence in writing – as soon as possible

You receive the funeral message in the form of a funeral card, a funeral advertisement in the daily newspaper or you are told about the death of a person orally. Now you should express your concern directly.

Seven days later is too late!

Most of the time it is difficult to communicate your feelings – but that should not make you let a lot of time go by! In the first few days after the death, a condolence message (verbal or written) should reach the bereaved.

Does the condolence card or. the letter of condolence arrives a week after the death (or even later), it is too late! Ensure that the card or. the letter quickly reaches the bereaved quickly. Do not choose one of the cheap mail services and certainly do not send the funeral card by official mail. Use the "good old yellow mail" for the letter of condolence or drop the card directly into the mailbox of the house of mourning. It is up to your discretion whether you hand the card over personally.

Better a short condolence text – for that promptly!

If it is not easy for you to formulate, it is better to write simply and briefly – but immediately! A short, spontaneous condolence text can go like this:

Dear Mr. Martens,

The death of your wife leaves me at a loss for words. But my silent sympathy for you is all the stronger.

I wish you strength

You can also express sympathy in a short form with a few more words:

the news of your husband’s death has just reached us.

We have known for some time that he is very ill and that this news is to be expected. Nevertheless we are deeply affected.

We feel with you! With good thoughts we are with you. If there is anything we can do for you, please let us know!

If the death news reaches you too late!

If you were perhaps on vacation or the bereavement message reached you very late for other reasons, indicate this in your letter of condolence. A first sentence in your funeral card can in this case z.B. should read like this:

I was away for a few days, so only now the sad news of your father’s death reached me.

Due to our vacation, we only now learned of your husband’s death.

If necessary. Take the condolence card with you to the funeral service and give it to your loved one.

➁ Expressing condolences – As personally as possible!

More than any other event, death connects people with each other – even people who are not otherwise close. The message of sympathy for a grieving person should express that closeness.

Personal words despite pre-printed condolence card!

Some sympathy cards are very impersonal and seem as if you are there to fulfill a chore. When buying a card, do not primarily pay attention to the price, but to the fact that it is in good taste.

Words of sympathy may be pre-printed on the front of the card, like"My condolences!", "In silent sympathy!" or"We mourn with you!" However, a few sentences handwritten by you may be inserted inside.

It is a sensitive personal gesture if you, as the condoler, design the funeral card yourself! It is much easier than you think. In an extra chapter I show you examples, templates and ideas for crafting condolence cards.

Choose stationery wisely!

You don’t share your condolences on business stationery, of course – even with business people, work colleagues or female employees, sympathy is not an official matter, but a personal one.

Even if you are known for your environmental awareness, do not write expressions of sympathy on a sheet of gray environmental paper.

Must one write the condolence text by hand?

Until a few years ago, I still wrote sympathy cards and letters of condolence in ink and with a precious fountain pen, i.e. by hand. This can still be done if the recipients belong to the educated bourgeoisie and you know, that they attach special importance to such traditional forms. But I have put down my fountain pen, it is gathering dust in the drawer. The personal sentences must still be handwritten – you are welcome to use a good ballpoint pen or a fine felt-tip pen.

Yes! You are welcome to put a poem or a message of consolation in your funeral card! You may design the letter with your writing program on the PC.

But a little hand must be!

But in the letter you write Salutation and the closing formula with by hand; of course you sign also handwritten. If you have a saying as a heading or a comforting poem as part of the text, it is nice if you also write this by hand. Use a pen that does not smear, not a cheap ballpoint pen, but rather a fine felt-tip pen or a better ball pen.

What is right for the condolence letter is also right for the condolence card. If you have only a short, personal text, write it by hand. For a somewhat longer condolence message, proceed as you would with a letter: write a lyrical text of mourning, or. You can print the text of consolation and put it in the card.

To whom do you address the funeral card??

To the house of mourning – This is how people used to write on the envelope. That’s not entirely wrong, because you condole with the next of kin; they usually gather at the house of mourning. So they could feel addressed, no one was forgotten. But it has become accepted that one addresses to the mourning person directly, thus: Mrs. first name surname / Mr. first name surname / Mr. and Mrs. surname. You can address to two persons (Mrs. Last name& Mr. Last name) or several people of the family (family Last name). Writing the names of the mourners on the envelope of the condolence mail is more personal (than "To the house of mourning"), because addressees of condolences are persons, not a house.

Do you have to make a condolence visit – is that proper??

As condoling individuals, you must decide for yourself whether to pay a condolence visit to the grieving person. This is due to regional customs and how close your relationship is with the deceased or with the bereaved. the person who is grieving. In the past, condolence visits from neighbors and colleagues were a matter of course and the mourners were prepared for many visits – this is no longer the case! But good friends and relatives pay a condolence visit before the funeral service. Other people give the mourners at least a week and only then ask (gladly also by telephone) whether a visit is right.

This is how to behave during a funeral visit!

Man appears in discreet (covered) clothing, d. h. So: not colorful or even shrill! One does not speak much oneself, avoids empty phrases, squeezes the hand, hugs, listens, is silent with each other, holds out the silence! It is about nothing more and nothing less than simply being there! A few positive words about the past funeral service are in any case appropriate.

Bringing flowers to the bereaved?

No, under no circumstances do you bring a bouquet of flowers! The mourners have other problems than putting flowers in the vase. I myself have seen a widow fend off the flowers that were to be presented to her with a violent blow. If you make a funeral visit before the funeral, you can hand over a homemade condolence card. Just hand over the card; don’t get any ideas about reading out the comfort poem you may have written in the card. The mourners will then read the texts (later) when they feel like it. If one wants to donate flowers for the deceased person (as a coffin or grave decoration), put a banknote in the card for this purpose.

A small gift to mourners

Consoling can’t be any deeper or more loving than that!

Look at the book:

Cover of the book

People in situations of farewell, death and mourning meet the old wise woman as well as the little prince. A handy book with new touching wisdom stories and texts.Available in bookstores everywhere. There at Amazon:

➂ Show compassion – As empathetically as possible!

Empathize with the person you are expressing sympathy to. So don’t say or write phrases that make sense to you but that a grieving person can do little with.

No religious empty words

If you as the condoling person are particularly religious, but the grieving person is not, please refrain from statements such as "God works in mysterious ways"!" /"The Lord tests his own!" Especially religious phrases are out of place then, because it’s not about what’s good for you, it’s about what’s good for the bereaved!

No cheap consolation

Some phrases, while rationally plausible, do not ease the pain of loss! So refrain from supposed consolation such as: "He was already old, after all!" /"She has lived her life!" /"Time heals all wounds!" /"You will see, soon you will laugh again!" /"He is redeemed!" /"Death is part of life!" Such statements may be uttered by the bereaved themselves; but from the mouth of the condolers this is insensitive!

No worn-out condolence phrases

If possible, avoid phrases such as "I am sorry for your loss!" /"My sincere condolences!" There is actually nothing wrong with such statements, but they seem empty. They will not recognize your sympathy! You do not have to say! Better than empty words are silent gestures such as: holding the mourner’s hand / holding the mourner with both hands / hugging the bereaved person.

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