You need to know how to write a condolence letter, but there’s no perfect thing to say when someone dies. There are no magic just-right words that will erase another person’s pain, or change their reason for feeling it.
But there are a lot of wrong things to say.
“Don’t say, ‘Your loved one is in a better place,’” agree Litsa Williams and Eleanor Haley, two grief-focused mental health professionals who host What’s Your Grief Podcast.
“Don’t try to make any comparisons” between their loss and your loss says Elaine Swann, an etiquette expert.
And “don’t assume you know how they feel,” says Vanessa Rush Southern, a Unitarian Universalist minister.
Writing a note in response to loss of life can feel like both a pitifully minor act and a really difficult one. But our experts shared that reaching out through a note to a grieving person is a