How to Write a Message of Condolence to a Coworker


In the journey of life, we often encounter moments of grief and loss, which require us to express condolences to those around us.

The importance of conveying these sentiments in a thoughtful and respectful manner cannot be overstated. It's not just about following social norms or professional etiquette, but rather about showing genuine empathy and support to someone in their time of need. 

A well-crafted condolence message can provide comfort, show understanding, and help foster a sense of community. 

It demonstrates our shared humanity and our ability to stand together during tough times, making it a vital skill in both personal and professional relationships. 

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Barbra Styles, LPC, LAC

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The Basics of a Condolence Message

A condolence message is a written expression of sympathy towards someone who has recently experienced a loss, typically the death of a loved one.

It's an important way of communicating your support and concern for your coworker during a difficult time. 

The message serves as an acknowledgment of their pain and as an offer of comfort and support.

There are three key components to a condolence message:

Acknowledgment of the Loss: 

This is where you express that you're aware of the bereavement your coworker is going through. 

It's crucial to mention the deceased by name if possible, as it validates their life and importance to your coworker. A simple statement like "I was deeply saddened to hear about the loss of [name]" would suffice.

Expression of Sympathy:

This part of the message is where you convey your condolences. It's an opportunity to share heartfelt sentiments of empathy and kindness.

You might say something like, "Please accept my sincerest condolences" or "My thoughts are with you during this difficult time."

Offer of Support: 

Here, you can extend an offer of help or assistance. It's important to be genuine and specific in your offer.

Instead of a general "Let me know if you need anything," you could say, "If you need someone to talk to or need help with meals over the next few weeks, please don't hesitate to reach out." 

Remember, the offer should be something you're able and willing to follow through on. 

Writing the Condolence Message

Start With a Personal Address:

When you begin your condolence message, it's vital to address your coworker by their name. This small gesture personalizes your message and indicates that it's not a generic note, but one specifically crafted for them. 

For example, you might start with "Dear [Coworker's Name],"

Express Your Sympathy:

Next, you'll want to express your sympathy. The language you use should be sincere and heartfelt. 

Phrases like "I was deeply saddened to hear about your loss," or "I can't imagine how difficult this must be for you," convey your empathy towards their situation.

Share a Memory or Positive Trait:

If you knew the deceased personally, sharing a positive memory or a trait you admired about them can provide comfort. 

This could be something like, "I'll always remember how [Deceased's Name] would light up a room with their smile," or "One thing I admired about [Deceased's Name] was their kindness towards everyone."

Offer Support:

Following this, extend an offer of support. Be genuine and specific in what you're willing to do.

You might say, "If you need someone to talk to or help with running errands during this time, please don't hesitate to reach out."

Close the Message with Kind Words:

Finally, close your condolence message in a respectful and comforting manner. You might choose to end with "My deepest sympathies are with you during this difficult time" or "You are in my thoughts and prayers."

What to Avoid in a Condolence Message

Writing a condolence message can be a sensitive task. There are certain common mistakes or insensitive phrases that should be avoided to ensure the message offers comfort rather than causing further pain. Here's what to steer clear of:

Presuming to Understand Their Grief:

Everyone experiences grief differently, so avoid making assumptions about how your coworker is feeling. Phrases like "I know how you feel" can come off as presumptuous and dismissive.


It's important not to compare their loss to someone else's or your own experiences. This might unintentionally minimize the significance of their grief.

Overly Sentimental or Morbid Language: 

It's crucial to strike a balance with your language. Avoid being excessively sentimental, sensational, or morbid.

Offering Advice or Clichés:

Phrases such as "Time heals all wounds," or "They are in a better place now" can be seen as cliché and may not offer the comfort you intend.

Expressing Relief or Mentioning Money:

Avoid expressing relief about the deceased's passing, even if it ended their suffering. Also, mentioning anything related to money or inheritance can be considered disrespectful.

Dwelling on the Pain or Difficulty of the Loss:

While it's necessary to acknowledge the loss, dwelling too much on the pain or difficulty can add to their distress. Instead, focus on offering support and comfort. 

Sending the Condolence Message

When it comes to sending a condolence message, timing and medium are crucial considerations. It's generally appropriate to send your message as soon as you hear about the loss, showing that you're there for them during this difficult time. 

As for the medium, it largely depends on your relationship with the coworker and the context of your workplace. A handwritten note can feel more personal, but an email or private message may be more suitable in certain circumstances. 

Regardless of how you choose to send your message, it's important to respect your coworker's space and privacy. 

Everyone grieves differently, so they may not respond immediately or at all. The key is to offer support without expecting anything in return. 


Writing a condolence message to a coworker is a delicate task that requires thoughtfulness and sensitivity. Starting with a personal address sets the tone of the message while expressing your sympathy offers comfort. 

Sharing a positive memory or trait of the deceased can provide solace, and extending an offer of support shows genuine care. 

Closing the message with kind words leaves a comforting final note. It's also essential to avoid certain phrases and attitudes that could unintentionally cause more distress. 

Finally, when sending the message, consider the timing and medium carefully, always respecting the grieving coworker's space and privacy.

Approaching this task with sensitivity, kindness, and respect can help you provide much-needed comfort during a difficult time. 

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February 27th, 2024

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