In this modern era, it’s good to know how to express sympathy in a condolences email.
Perhaps a close co-worker or your manager has experienced the recent loss of a loved one. Or maybe a team member you are only acquainted with has been out on bereavement leave, and you’d like to let them know you are thinking about them.
Whatever the case – and while it’s preferable to send a sympathy card – sometimes a sympathy email is the best (or only) option.
But how to say “sorry for your loss” professionally? Today we’ll take a look at how to go about writing (er, typing) a professional condolences email.
Sympathy Email Etiquette
As you already know, etiquette is important when writing a work email… perhaps even more so when creating a sympathy work email.
Some general etiquette rules to remember include remembering to speak the deceased’s first name in your email; offering your specific support or assistance with anything they may need; and giving them the respect and the space to respond to your email, or not.
What is the Best Sympathy Message for an Email?
The best sympathy email acknowledges the person who died along with the grief of those left behind. It expresses sorrow and sympathy while offering support, help, and comfort.
When I heard about [name’s] death, my heart immediately went out to you. [S]he was a great person, and will be sorely missed. My condolences to you and your whole family!
I’m here for you in any way you need, and I’d really like to help in some way, if possible. I’ll text you later with some ideas. Thinking of you in this challenging time,[your signature]
Let’s glance at a few more examples of sympathy emails.
Professional Condolence Email Examples
Let’s take a look at some sympathy work email examples that you can use in your real-life work situation.
What to Put in the Subject Line in a Condolences Email
No matter how short or long they may be, email subject lines are one of the most important components of the overall email. They let the recipient know, at a glance, something of what the message will be about.
So it can be difficult to know just what to put in the subject line of your sympathy email. I suggest keeping it short, sweet, and to the point.
Here are some example subject lines:
- My Condolences
- My Sympathies
- So Sorry for Your Loss…
- In Loving Memory
- In Loving Memory of [Name]
- A little message for you…
- Just checking in…
- Thinking of you
- Here for you if you need anything
What Do You Say in a Condolences Email?
When it gets down to actually writing and signing a sympathy email, there are three main steps to consider:
- Begin with a message of comfort, like “Dear [Name], I was so very sorry to hear about [Name of decedent]. I know that anything I say to you right now wouldn’t even come close to offering you the comfort you need, but I wanted you to know that I’m here for you.”
- Share a special memory you have of the deceased. “I’m not sure if [Name] ever told you this story, but it’s one of my most cherished memories of him/her. It all started when…”
- Offer your closing remarks and signature. Keep it short, warm, and as comforting as possible. Here are a few examples:
- “Again, my heartfelt condolences to you and your family.”
- “Sincerely and with condolences”
- “Prayerfully” or “With prayers and deep sympathy”
- “In loving memory”
For more tips, we wrote a much more detailed guide on how to sign a sympathy card.
How to Sign Off a Sympathy Email?
If you are a close friend or peer, simply use the person’s name as you normally would. If you are writing to a relative, it is appropriate to use their relational form of address, i.e., Uncle Dave or Grandma Sorenson.
If you are addressing a business or professional person, use Mr., Mrs., or Ms., followed by their full name or just the surname.
For the email itself, you have many options to begin or address the message. Some of the more common are:
- Dear [Name or Relation]
- Dearest [Name]
- My dear/dearest [Name]
For more professional contacts, use a formal address (Ms or Mr) and their name. And for more intimate acquaintances, you can use a nickname, pet name, or other term of endearment.
- My dear friend
- Hey Mugs
Specific Condolences Email Templates
If you’re at a loss for words, the best way to get started with your condolences email is to have some pre-written messages already at your fingertips. Here are a few specific email templates to help you get started with your sympathy message.
Short Condolence Messages
Subject line: Thinking of you
This is [Your name] from Department [your department]. I am so sorry to hear about [Name]. Please let me know if I can do anything at all for you. The team and I are thinking of you.
All the best,
Subject line: Sincere condolences
I was saddened to hear about the passing of [Name]. When you’re ready, my team would love to treat you to lunch…your pick. Just let me know.
Subject line: I’m so sorry : (
I just heard about [Name] and I’m so sorry. Just wanted to let you know that I’m available to help with any work you may have coming in this week…I’m sure you are under enough pressure right now. Just let me know.
Bereavement Emails from the Team
Subject line: From all of us
Good morning [Name],
This is [Your name], team leader of [Department] Team. I just wanted to reach out and let you know that we heard about [Name], and we are so sorry for your loss. All of us are thinking of you during this difficult time. Please don’t hesitate to come by my office at any time if you need anything at all. I will swing by your cubicle later today to check in on you.
Subject line: Our condolences
On behalf of the entire team, I just wanted to reach out and express our sincere condolences on the loss of [Name]. I was honored to get to meet him/her at the company soirée last fall…it’s hard to believe he/she is really gone. [Name] was truly a special person. We have pulled together and gotten you a little something as a way to honor his/her memory. I will stop by your desk on my way out this evening and give it to you, if that’s okay.
See you soon,
Subject line: How are you doing?
Just wanted to reach out and see how you are doing since your return from bereavement leave. I know from experience that it can be a tough time getting back into the swing of things…if you need some help catching up on the files, just let me or any of the girls/guys know, and we’ll be happy to help.
Remember, you’re not just a valued colleague, but also our good friend…if there’s anything we can do for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Your friends at [Name] Department
Subject line: Got you covered
I know we talked briefly earlier, but I wanted to mention that several of the team members have volunteered to pick up your route this week while you’re out of town for the funeral. Don’t worry about making up the lost hours…we’ve got you covered. I will be sure to record everything for [Manager’s name] and get him/her to sign for the week. Let me know if there’s anything else we can do to ease your stress…this is the least we can do.
Subject line: We’re thinking of you
Just wanted to let you know that the whole team is thinking of you, and praying for you during this difficult time. While we can’t pretend to know what you’re going through, in the very least, we are here to offer our assistance with your workload should you feel like you need it. [Name] went ahead and filed your papers this last Friday, and [Name] let [Manager] know that things may be a little slow for the next week or so. He/she said that’s perfectly fine. I am here, we are all here, should you need anything else at all.
Sympathy Emails for Clients
Subject line: Just checking in
Good afternoon [Name],
This is [Your name] from [Company]. I wanted to reach out and let you know that I am thinking of you during this difficult time. It was so wonderful getting to know you and your family during these last several weeks. [Name] was a joy to be around, and will be sorely missed. Please reach out if you need anything at all, I am just a phone call or email away.
Subject line: With condolences
I was saddened to hear about [Name]. It seems like yesterday we were speaking over the phone. You and [Name] were a pleasure to work with, and I will forever remember how he/she went out of their way to make me feel like more than an agent, but a good friend. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do or bring your family during this difficult time.
Subject line: Deepest sympathy
I just received word about [Name], and am at a complete loss of words. I wanted to reach out and express my sincerest sympathies to you and your family. [Name] was one of the kindest, most caring, and most generous individuals I ever had the honor of meeting. From the bottom of my heart, I am so, so sorry. Please let me know if there’s anything at all I can do for you, even if just to provide a listening ear. You are all in my prayers.
Subject line: Thinking of you during this difficult time
I have been thinking about you and your family all morning, and thought I’d just reach out with a word of encouragement during this difficult time. For all the pain the loss of [Name] has brought you, just remember, God gave us fond memories for a reason. May the good times roll through your mind and heart, and may God wrap you in wings of comfort as you step foot into this next chapter.
Condolence Messages for Bosses
Subject line: With sincerest condolences
I just wanted to express my sincere condolences on the loss of [Name]. I had the honor of meeting him/her at the company Christmas party last year, and I can’t help but to remember the way he/she lit up the room with his/or smile and hilarious stories. On behalf of the whole team, please let us know if there is anything we can help you with. It’s the least we can do.
Subject line: Our condolences
Good afternoon [Name],
This is [Your name] from Team [Team name]. We have spoken briefly within the last couple of weeks, but I just wanted to let you know that I am thinking about you during this difficult time. [Name] was a wonderful person. He/she was so giving of his/her time and energy, and I will always remember how comfortable he/she made me feel when I first started working here. On behalf of everyone at Team [Team name], please accept our deepest condolences.
Subject line: We are thinking of you
I just wanted to extend my heartfelt condolences on the loss of [Name]. I can’t imagine how difficult this must be for you. The team and I have talked, and we want to take you out for dinner, on us, in memory of [Name] and also as a show of our appreciation for you and all you do for the company. If this sounds good, just say the word, and we’ll get a date in motion.
FAQ’s for Professional Bereavement Emails
Our professionals give insight into these commonly asked questions for writing professional condolence emails.
What to Say Instead of “Sorry for Your Loss”?
Sometimes, you want to say something better than the traditional (and, to some, worn-out) phrases.
Saying “I’m so sorry for your loss” and “You have my deepest sympathies” is fine, but when you’re grieving, hearing the same words over and over can become an audio blur. In email form, in the middle of a work day, the words can blur even more.
Here are a few ways you can uniquely express your sincere condolences through email, without coming across as repetitious.
- “I am at an absolute loss of words over [Name’s] passing.”
- “I know this is true: if love could have saved [Name], he/she would have lived forever.”
- “There is nothing quite as difficult as losing one’s [relation]. How can I make your journey through this easier?”
- “My heart is hurting for you and your family.”
- “You have been in my thoughts and prayers all week.”
What Do You Not Say in a Condolences Email for Work?
The last thing you want to do is create an unnecessary burden for a grieving person. So there are some words and phrases you want to avoid expressing through a professional email, even if outside of work you are close to the grieving person.
You will want to avoid being over dramatic or passionate in your email…it’s just the wrong thing to do.
Try not to compare your own grief experiences with theirs. Don’t make them feel obligated to do anything in response, or even to respond at all. And whatever you do, if you want to do the right thing, don’t overuse punctuation, capitalization, or emojis.
Matter of fact, for a work condolences email, just avoid emojis altogether.
Here are some very specific examples of what not to say in a condolence email for work:
- “Oh my God! I just can’t believe it! How are you coping?! It was just last week we were all having coffee together and planning for the next video conference! I don’t know how we’re going to get past this! [Name] did so much for this company! Such a great loss! SUCH a beautiful soul! I’m just so, soooo sorry! 😭😭”
- “How have you been? It’s hard to find the right words to say. I remember when my [family member] died a few years ago. I was out of it for a week or two, but then I bounced back pretty quickly. Probably in a few weeks, you’ll be feeling much better. Besides, [Name] is now in a better place. Keep your chin up.”
- “Hi [Name], me and the girls thought it’d be a good idea to express our heartfelt sympathy by taking you out for drinks after work today. I know you just returned from bereavement leave, but if you can text message me by 2pm if you can make it, I’ve already made reservations for that one table we like outside. No pressure. Thanks!”
- “[Name], I am totally 💔 for you. Just been sitting at my desk 😭for about an hour now, so thought I’d reach out. I’m just an email away if you need anything 📨.”
How to Express Sympathy in Professional Emails
The specific way you express your sympathy or condolences will depend on the context.
For instance, a text or social media message to your best friend will be different from a sympathy card sent to a business associate. Talking in person at the funeral will be different than when you meet up with your friend for coffee after the service. And of course, sending a sympathy email is different from all of these.
Here are some good examples of ways you can appropriately and meaningfully express your sympathies and kind words to someone at work who is grieving the loss of a loved one.
- Let them know you are there. “I’m sure you are having a hard time getting back into work mode. I am here if you need any help with your workload this week. I know things are hard right now.”
- Remind them that they can take all the time they need to get back in the swing of things. “There is no rush with any of the projects this week. Take your time getting back into the groove of things.”
- Add a little gentle humor, but not too much. “Don’t hesitate to let me know if you need more time to catch up following your bereavement leave. The team and I can get together and allocate files to the newbies if need be, haha. It’ll be a good experience for them.”
What can I say instead of “sympathy”?
A “sympathy message” simply means “an expression of comfort in a time of sorrow.”
So synonyms for “sympathy” or “my sympathies” would include:
- My condolences
- My sincere condolence
- Wishing you comfort
- My warmest regards
- My thoughts and prayers are with you
- Thinking of you
Have you ever sent a sympathy email at work? What are some other ways that you have shown your condolences to a boss or co-worker? Or maybe you were the one on the receiving end of a memorable work sympathy email.
If so, what made that email so memorable? We’d love to know! Tell us in the comments below.
Read Next: Best Sympathy Gifts for Someone Grieving
Aubrey is a lifelong writer who has served in the funeral industry since 2016. After graduating from Dallas Institute of Funeral Service, she knew she wanted to continue to serve families through her writing, but didn’t know how.
Soon after, Aubrey experienced a “lightbulb” moment and started her eulogy writing business, Eulogies by Aubrey, in 2019.
Aubrey has written professionally since 2012, covering not only funeral-related topics and gift trends, but also for TV guide listings, as well as legal topics. She began writing for US Urns Online in 2019.
Aubrey’s work has been featured in Huffpost, Coming of Age Magazine, and 1800Flowers.com. She holds certifications in Cremation Arrangement (ICCFA) and Burial at Sea (NEBAS), and as of 2023, is a trained and certified birth and bereavement doula (SBD). Aubrey is currently studying toward her degree in Business Administration.