Tips to help you write a message of condolence on an online obituary
It can be tough to know what to say after someone has passed away. Finding just the right words to offer condolences can be difficult and is something many people find a struggle.
Online guestbooks allow people to connect from anywhere
Publishing an online obituary allows a family more opportunities to share about their loved one. Photos, special moments and a life story can all be centralized in the guestbook, as well as allowing for digital condolences.
It can also act as a permanent memorial that the family can revisit on occasion to re-read some of the messages left by other family members and friends. Many online guestbooks also offer the opportunity for guests to share a photo along with the condolence.
Below are some tips to help you craft your message of sympathy and support.
Share a story that the family may never have heard before
If you have a charming or fun story that shows your relationship with the deceased person and honours who they were; consider including this anecdote with your sympathy note. Not only will it be nice for the immediate family to read; but as online stories can be read around the world, it will also seen by loved ones near and far.
When writing your story, make sure to consider how the family will react. Try not to reference the circumstances surrounding how the person died. Rather, focus on celebrating a life well lived. You can be very reverent, or more lighthearted. What matters is that the message is considerate, thoughtful and appropriate.
Share something that was personal to you both. Maybe it was a trip you took together; ‘One of my favourite trips was going to Buffalo to see the Bills. Just spending time together with a beer and BBQ at the tailgate party. It was so cold and Buffalo lost, but I wouldn’t trade that memory for anything else’.
Both solemn and lighthearted comments are appropriate—just remember to be respectful of all you mention.
Consider adding a photo or video
Many online memorial books allow the option of adding a photo or video to your condolence. Consider adding to your visuals. When uploading the photo; include context – your relationship to the person, where you were and why – and the memory the photo conjures for you.
Families approve all photos before they go live on the site; but being able to see an image of their loved one they may never have seen before can be very comforting.
You can write simple or detailed condolences
If you’d like to do more than simply sign your name, but don’t feel you can write anything too detailed, it’s fine to leave a short but warm note; something like, ‘I’m very sorry for your loss. Thinking of the entire family during this difficult time. May you find comfort from your memories.’
As long as your expression of sympathy is sincere, it will be appreciated by the family. Should you choose to write a fuller tribute, try and share something that the family may not know and appreciate learning. A funny story from your times together that details how you knew the person best can bring surprising comfort. Reminding the family of the good times with their loved one can help ease the sadness.
Include a nice poem, quote or religious verse that is meaningful to the family
Sometimes you just can’t find your own words. This is common and completely understandable. Selecting a poem or cherished quote, or scripture of the family’s religion that you find meaningful can be a beautiful way to offer your sympathies and comfort.
The most important thing to remember when leaving an online condolence note is to be heartfelt, sincere and considerate. Don’t expect a thank you from the family. Even if they cherished the note, they may too busy or emotional to acknowledge it in the immediate aftermath of a loss. This doesn’t mean it wasn’t well-received, and when they look back later on the online guestbook; it will hopefully bring a smile and comfort to re-read the note.