In this modern era, you need to know how to express sympathy in an email. While it’s definitely preferable to send a sympathy card, sometimes email is the best (or only) option.
Today, we’re going to talk about how to express condolences via email. Specifically, we’ll talk about
- How to write an email sympathy message
- What to put in the subject line
- Salutations and sign-offs
… and more. Let’s get to it.
Sympathy Email Etiquette
What is the best way to express sympathy?
The specific way you express your sympathy or condolences will depend on the context.
For instance, a text 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.
Still, there are some basic features of a condolence message that are important no matter the context.
- Express your sympathy – “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
- Talk about the decedent – “[Name] was a great person and will be sorely missed.”
- Find words of comfort and solidarity – “I’m thinking of you; we’re praying for you; you and your family are in our hearts.”
- Offer help or support, if possible – “We’d like to contribute something to help. Here are some ideas…” [Be specific]
More: How to write a condolence letter
What is the best sympathy message for email?
The best sympathy email acknowledges the person who died along with the grief of those left behind. It expresses sorrow and sympathy, and offers 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 difficult time,[your signature]
Related: Meaningful Sympathy Messages for Coworkers
What can I say instead of “I’m sorry for your loss”?
Sometimes, you want to say something better than the traditional (and, to some, worn-out) phrases.
Here are some ideas:
What do I put in the subject line in a sympathy email?
No matter how short or long they may be, email subjects 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. We 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 should the salutation be?
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.
And 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
How do I sign a sympathy 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 few examples:
- “Again, my heartfelt condolences to your and your family.”
- “Sincerely and with condolences”
- “Prayerfully” or “With prayers and deep sympathy”
- “In loving memory”
For a much more detailed description of how to sign a sympathy card, see here.
What can I say instead of “sympathy”?
A “sympathy message” simply means “an expression of comfort in time of grief.”
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
Read next: Condolence Images & Sympathy Quotes to Share