Friday, 15 September 2017

Writing a Letter of Condolence

A letter of condolence is a very sad thing to write. You write to the family, to send them your sympathies after the loss of a loved one.

I won't repeat the basics of writing to a Royal, as it is pretty much the same for all letters. You can find a lot of helpful info on that here. I will just go into the specifics of Letters of Condolences.

Who to write to?

Most of the time this is obvious. Usually, you send a letter of condolence to the closest living family member.

But sometimes it this can be difficult, you're not sure who the closest family member is, or aren't that familiar with the close family, they aren't a part of the immediate royal family, etc.

To figure out who to write to, ask yourself the following questions:
  • How is the media describing the person who has passed away? (Usually, the media, will say which royal they are related to. The headlines will say something like [Royal Name]'s Uncle/Brother/Cousin, [Person], passed away.
  • Who released a statement about the person's passing?
  • Who was mentioned in the obituary?
  • Who attended the funeral?
  • Who do you have an address for?
  • Who is a working Royal?
  • Who responds to letters?
  • etc.
Who you send your letters to, and where you send it, may affect if you get a reply and what you will get.

I usually send my letter of condolence to one person, and write at the beginning "I'm sending my condolences to you and your family".

If you are really stumped on who to send your letter of condolence to, you can always address your letter to "The Family of [person who passed away]."

When to write?

Don't feel like you need to write the minute you hear the news. Give yourself a few days to reflect, see what information is being released by the Palace, family, media, what people are saying, etc.

I think anytime within 2 weeks after the passing or shortly after the funeral is acceptable.

What to say?

Letters of condolences are best-kept brief, anywhere from a few lines to a page.

Things you might include in your letter:
  • Your condolences to the person you are writing to (and their family, friends, etc). 
  • How you felt when you hear the news
  • Your feeling towards that person who has passed away
    • Were they your favorite? Why?
    • What did you admire about them?
  • Share a favorite memory
    • How will you remember the person who has passed?
    • What were their best strengths or characteristics?
  • Let the family know they will be in your thoughts/prayers 
Handwrite vs. Typed?

There is this archaic rule that letters of condolences must be handwritten. This stemming from a time when people learned beautiful penmanship and typewriters were a new invention. If you have nice handwriting, I would strongly encourage you to handwrite your note. It makes it more beautiful and personal.

But if you don't have nice handwriting, and a typed letter is actually going to look nicer and be easier to read, then feel free to type it.

I've sent both handwritten and typed letters of condolence in the past. I usually handwrite the note if it is only a few lines. And will type the note if it's longer.

Back to Writing to the Royals

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