The prospect of writing in a condolence book can be a little daunting. But if you do manage to write a message of support, it can mean a lot to the family of the person who has died. It can even help you come to terms with your own feelings of loss.

Now, the scary part (for many of us, at least) is figuring out what to write in a condolence book or book of remembrance. But don’t let that keep you from trying: the important thing is that you make the effort. It will be appreciated.


Some things to remember when signing a book of condolence:

  • You can be brief! A couple of sentences is fine if you’re struggling.
  • It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare. Just speak from the heart.
  • Make it personal. Try to talk about what the person who has died was like.


Ways to start your condolence book message

When you’re trying to write in a condolence or funeral memory book, the first sentence is often the hardest to write. Here are some examples to help:

  • I was so sorry to hear that David died…
  • I can’t find the words to say how sorry I am, and how much Lucy will be missed…
  • Liz, Tom, Jasper – my heart goes out to you. I am so sorry…
  • Rob was such a kind and generous man…
  • You and your family will be in my thoughts…


Things to write in a book of condolence

One of the things families find most comforting about a funeral is the chance to hear all kinds of stories about the person they’ve lost.

So, try to share a memory of the person who has died, or say something about who they were as a person and what they meant to you. Was there something about them you always admired? What were their strengths, what made them unique?

  • I remember when I first met David. The kids had dressed him up as a princess, beard and all. He had the biggest smile on his face I’d ever seen. He was such a great dad…
  • Lucy was the kindest, sweetest person you could ever meet. She always went the extra mile to help you, and she had a real sixth sense about when you needed it…
  • Rob was a great mate – the best. He always knew how to make me laugh. I know I’ll miss him every day.

If you have any great photos of the person who has died, you could also slip these between the pages with a note about when they were taken. A picture is worth a thousand words, after all.


What not to write in a memorial book

Often with a book of condolence, what to write is the least of your worries. What not to write is the real concern. No one wants their comments to cause the family pain.

So, try to avoid phrases like “This is all part of God’s plan,” or “He/She is in a better place” – especially if the family isn’t religious. “I know exactly how you feel” can also upset bereaved families. For widows and widowers, “You’ll find love again someday” can be hurtful, even if it turns out to be true.


Ways to finish your message

Those agonising over what to write in a remembrance book for a funeral often forget that it’s really an opportunity. Now is the perfect time to tell the family that you’ll be there for them in the days ahead:

  • If you need someone to talk to, please don’t be afraid to call any time, day or night.
  • You and David have been such good friends to me over the years. I want you to know that if you need anything, you can call me.
  • I know that the days ahead are going to be hard. If you ever need a hand – a babysitter, a taxi-driver, a shoulder to cry on – I’m here.

There are also simple ways to round out your message in a book of remembrance. Examples include:

  • You and your family will be in my thoughts.
  • Wishing you comfort and peace in the days ahead.
  • My deepest sympathies to you and your family.
  • My heart goes out to you all.


Create a free online condolence book with Beyond

Beyond’s online obituary pages make a beautiful alternative to the traditional book of condolence. Any friend of family member can visit the page, write a message, share photos and videos and even donate money or send flowers to the family. Click here to create a free obituary for your loved one today.

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