Why do theists mourn someone
Mourning Letters - How to show tact and comfort with the right words
Why comforting words are so important
Often the news of someone's death suddenly reaches you:
- You read the obituary notice in the newspaper: The father of a good friend has died.
- You learn from your assistant that an employee's wife died unexpectedly.
- You call your business colleague's office and find out that they have had a fatal accident.
- A mutual friend informs you that the mother of one of your friends has died.
What distinguishes a good letter of condolence?
Learn the contents of a good letter of condolence in the Great Knigge:
Even if you anticipate the death of someone you know - for example because they are terminally ill - it is often very difficult to show their condolences to the bereaved and to put it into words. Compassion, that is, empathy, is required to a certain extent.
Many people find it difficult to admit and formulate these, and helplessness spreads. Death is a taboo subject in our culture: We weren't taught how to deal with our finitude. Many believers also find it difficult to come to terms with death. The topic is scary, so most people prefer to avoid it.
Even when you feel helpless, do not remain idle. Tell the bereaved that you are concerned, because suffering shared is suffering halved. Even if you did not know the deceased, compassionate words are needed.
The Italian philosopher and therapist Piero Ferucci writes in his book "Only the friendly survive": “Suffering people do not need diagnoses, advice, interpretations, influences, but real unconditional empathy. As soon as they have at least the feeling that someone identifies with their experiences, they can let go of their suffering and be healed. "
Quench this longing for empathy. Do not despair if you find it difficult to find the right words.
The biggest mistakes are still:
Life is fleeting - but a letter remains
Be sure to write a letter or card of condolence. You can express your condolences over the phone, but a spoken word is fleeting and ephemeral and the memory of it fades.
A written expression of condolences can give consolation to the sufferer weeks and months after the funeral. Letters and cards convey a piece of consistency that the mourner longs for.
E-mail, fax and SMS are of course tabooUnfortunately, this remark is not superfluous: In dhe editorial office hour of the great etiquette actually came up with the question of how one could condolate via SMS. The answer: not at all!
Telephone calls and personal discussions are also welcome
If you know the bereaved well, a combination of a condolence letter / card and a condolence visit or phone call is best. Often the mourners feel lonely because friends no longer speak up because of fear or anxiety.
But this reaction is wrong: When do people need good friends more than in bad times? Give yourself a shake and report to it. Offer to listen, help, grieve together.
What is there for funeral letters
note? The 9 most common questions
1.Which stationery is suitable?
It is best to choose a simple but high quality white letterhead. In business, you use your company's representative form (without delivery address and bank details).
Again and again you see letters of condolence with a black mourning frame. However, the black border is reserved for letters from the mourning house, such as the invitation to the funeral. If you want to send a card, do not use any preprinted texts that you just have to sign. That seems loveless. Write your funeral greeting yourself. The motif of the card should be subtle and match the occasion.
Which card motif is suitable?
In stores you will find many cards on which a cross is depicted as a sign of death, funeral, and mourning. When my father died last year, I didn't particularly like these motifs.
Rather, I was comforted by the cards that portrayed a symbol for life, peace and infinity:
- a wide river,
- a ray of light in the thick forest,
- a big strong tree,
- a picture of rocky sea cliffs that always fascinated my father.
Source: iStock © aniszewski
Art cards can also be an alternative: A card with the motif "Water Lilies" by Claude Monet for example had a peaceful, gently melancholy charisma that spoke to me very much in my grief.
When choosing a card, ask yourself: What motive could give comfort to the mourner? You have more creative leeway in your private life than in your business.
2. Is the phrase “to the house of mourning” still relevant?
Do not write "to the house of mourning" any more today. After all, it is not a house that mourns, but a person whom you should name by name. Address your letter to:
"Ms. Sybille Muster, Florian and Max Muster".
This is personal and therefore recommended.
In the editorial office hour I once had the following case:
- The caller wanted to write "to the mourning house" because she did not know the relatives of the deceased business partner by name. But even then, it is better to do some research. Often the secretary can help or at least has advice.
Stopgap solution: If you cannot find out the first names of the relatives despite research, write “Family sample”. That is also out of date, but still better than "to the house of mourning".
3.How do you talk about the deceased?
Do not write "Ms. Muster loved her work" or "Mr. Schulz was a gifted speaker", that seems anonymous instead of personal. Do not use "Herr" and "Frau", instead state your first and last names: Gisela Muster, Georg Schulz. If you have used it, your first name is sufficient.
Of course, you shouldn't say bad things about the deceased. Write about his strengths, let his weaknesses rest. Address the merits and positive traits that stood out to you and which you particularly valued. Or: Write about your shared experiences. It comforts the relatives to learn how much the deceased was valued by other people.
4. Who do you have to write to: the company or the relatives?
If a business partner dies, you should write two cards if necessary: one to the company (for example to the manager) and one to the relatives. Don't be afraid to write to complete strangers.
Your condolences will not be perceived as intrusive, on the contrary: The bereaved are immensely comforted when many people express their condolences. Sometimes just a few words on a card are enough. If you did not know the addressee or the deceased well, a short and simple sympathy is sufficient. For example, write how you learned about death, when and how you met the deceased, and that you care.
5. Is it nonsensical to send money for the grave decorations?
In the past, people used to think practically in many places and included a banknote with the letter of condolence, with which they made their contribution to the grave decoration. The bereaved took the money and invested it in the name of the sender in a wreath, a flower arrangement or in later care for the grave.
When my father died, I was very happy that no euro bills fluttered towards me in the condolence letters: During the mourning one does not want to deal with money, it seems rather banal and disrespectful instead of a welcome gift.
It's best to take care of it yourself
It is most tactful to go to the grave jewelry yourself. If you cannot find the necessary information on the obituary notice, ask friends and acquaintances which funeral home organizes the funeral or which florist is responsible for the grave decorations. Do not burden the bereaved with additional organizational tasks, but commission your wreath yourself.
If that is not possible, it is better to send a flower voucher instead of cash. Alternatively, you can also refer to a donation in your letter, for example in the “P. S. "
example: “Emma cared so much about the welfare of stray cats and was always practical. Instead of ordering grave flowers, I would rather donate an amount to the animal shelter in Solingen. I am sure that that would be in your interest. "
6. Does a memorial letter have to be handwritten?
As already said: A memorial letter should have a personal effect, so handwritten lines are particularly recommended, also in business. However, if you do not have beautiful handwriting, you can create the letter on the PC. However, give the letter a personal touch by adding the salutation and greeting by hand, preferably in black ink.
tip: Avoid the postage meter and choose a nice special postage stamp for the envelope.
7. Which formulations are out of date?
Avoid empty phrases and standard formulations. Don't be afraid to honestly describe your feelings and avoid sentences that sound artificial or wooden.
Formulation aid for the beginning of the letter
- The news that your husband has died struck me very much.
- Yesterday we learned that your little son Klaus died suddenly and unexpectedly. This news upset me and my husband very much.
- Your secretary Ms. Meyers just called us and told us that your managing director Martin Schmied has died. This news made us very sad.
Words of appreciation and concern
- Moritz Zaun was not just a good businessman, he was an exemplary boss. His management style was appreciative and trusting, and he enjoyed the respect and admiration of his employees.
- Clara Fischer was so warm and friendly, she was popular and welcomed. Together with you, we mourn a valuable person.
- Daniel leaves a huge void in my life. I am grateful that our paths have crossed.
- I miss Sabine, I mourn a lovable person with you. I wish both of us the courage to remember the good times and the good times with Sabine.
- With heartfelt sympathy
- In connection
- my sincere condolences
Obviously, memorial letters do not have a subject line.
8. Are you allowed to refer to God?
For believers it is clear: death is not the end. The thought that the deceased is with God gives comfort and hope. Therefore, you are welcome to quote from the Bible and become religious. Suitable Bible verses are, for example:
- “I place my Spirit in your hands with confidence,” wrote King David (Psalm 31: 6). I think we can trust that Anna Lilienhofer is now under God's care.
- "You embrace me on all sides and lay your hand on me," says Psalm 139. So I am full of hope that God is close to Arno, that he protects and cares for him.
- "For we know that if our earthly house is demolished, then we will have a dwelling from God, an eternal house in heaven that was not built by human hands." (2 Corinthians 5: 1)
Confident atheists or followers of other religions will not be able to do much with biblical messages. Better to stay neutral or write in first person: "I'm sure that Florian is now in good hands with God."
9. Can you delegate the business task?
Bosses are happy to pass on the unpleasant task of writing a letter of condolence to the secretary - for example with the comment: "Please write a few sympathetic lines, you are sure to find something there."
It becomes particularly difficult if the secretary did not know the deceased or only vaguely knows the relatives. Anyone who delegates this task should at least formulate a few bullet points so that a personal letter can emerge. One tries you as a secretary with the words "Do it" to fob off? Insist on a few ideas and suggestions that you can use.
What distinguishes a good letter of condolence?
A good letter of condolence pays tribute to the deceased, gives consolation and is individually worded. Perseverance slogans in the style of "Heads up" and "Will be again" are inappropriate and far too banal to reach the mourner.
It is perfectly normal for the griever to hold onto their pain first: it is a way of staying in close contact with the loved one. Those who grieve have the feeling: Letting go of the pain means letting go of the loved one. That is why we keep him like treasure.
The aim of a letter of condolence is therefore never to free the abandoned from his grief. The aim is to accompany the mourner in his grief, to show solidarity, to get involved in the pain of parting.
A good letter requires an investment, an investment of compassion. Put yourself in the other person's shoes. If you do not empathize, you will not be able to reach the addressee with your words. What you like is of course individual: So take into account what the mourner might like and how you relate to him.
These contents are suitable for a letter of condolence:
- Memories, details
- Own feelings, experiences
- Appreciation of the deceased
- Sympathy, expression of solidarity
- Offer of help, support
- Death / farewell in general
How to give solace with quotes"When you were born
did you cry
and everyone around you was happy.
Live so that when you leave the world
everyone is crying and you are smiling. "
Dear Mrs. Salomon,
When I heard of the death of your beloved husband, I immediately thought of this quote, which he himself had once used. He followed this credo: We mourn someone who is worth every tear ...
Don't cry that it's over.
Smile that she was! "
Dear, dear Mrs. Meiers,
please take the time to mourn. But please also take the right to smile again one day ...
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