Two days ago, one of my old relatives passed away. His family lives 900km away and due to my job, I couldn't show up at funeral. Where I live it's important to show up. I've thought of calling his family, which were always good and friendly to me, and express my deep condolence. What has stopped me till now is,

  1. His family are 6 people, and my condolence words are limited (saying condolences is really not something I practice everyday). I fear repeating same paragraph over and over again.
  2. I am really bad at talking to sad people, I don't know what to tell to someone who I don't see and have no idea of their amount of sadness.
  3. All my relatives are in that city (900km distance) and in past years, I could barely visit them, and some of them are a bit upset about this (in a friendly way), as I have missed marriages of my dearest relatives and funeral of some others in these years.

I am good at writing letters and express my feelings in writing, so one of my options are writing a message in social media, but we were closer than this.

How can I express my sincere condolences? Experiences on either side would be helpful, whether you are good at saying condolences or have lost someone close and could tell what you expected or wanted people to say.

Some other facts:

  • My entire family went all the way to show up and I couldn't.
  • I always make short calls, and am not the type of person who can have long phone conversations. My calls are usually one minutes.
  • Sadly, my family also thinks I'm unfeeling. The reasoning is I don't call too much, which isn't true (I feel). I love everyone, I love and miss my family and relatives. I just don't know why I should call someone, if nothing has happened between us since last time we spoke (that's my real and only reason).

2 Answers 2


Write a letter and send it via good old fashioned Snail Mail.

I have experienced a similar situation in which my aunt passed and the funeral was in the Midwest and I lived in New England (United States). I wrote a letter (not typed, emailed, etc- but actually hand written with a pen) to each closely-related family.

This should be ideal because

  1. you express that you are good at writing letters

  2. it shows sincere condolences as many may see your letter writing and delivery method personal and genuine as it takes considerable effort to send such a letter whereas on social media it takes much less effort

  3. a physical letter can be longer appreciated- it can be hung up in their place of living, passed around to local family members and read privately, etc.

Here's a snippet taken from a condolence letter I have written:

Hello Smith family!

I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Aunt Jeanine. I felt like there would be so much more time to spend with her.


Keep in mind this is just a snippet, and other contextual or personal information could be included however relevant.

I recommend writing several drafts on paper to make sure you're happy with the penmanship, font style, clarity of writing, color of ink, etc. When you're satisfied, make your final writing on the actual card/mail item( I actually often have another backup card just in case I mess something up when writing the final copy ).

  • In my country in europe it is common to lay some money in the mail with the comment "for a floral greeting". It means the flowers on the grave, but is used for all expensiv according to the funeral. The money is not the reason to write, the reason is feeling to express condolence. Additional I like to use a citation which helped me to handle my own grief. Commented Nov 17, 2019 at 11:55

Find a flower delivery company in their area, then buy some flowers and have them delivered along with a message of condolences from you.

Flowers are, in many places, traditional methods of expressing your condolences for the family of the deceased. This is an idea that is ubiquitous in basically every Western culture, and has been present since some of the earliest human graves that archeologists have discovered. Flowers delivery services talk about grief sympathy etiquette and explain why this is a nice and appropriate gesture to make:

Some people choose to send flowers a week or so after the funeral when the initial chaos has passed. However, it can be a nice gesture to send sympathy flowers to the family’s home after the funeral to remind the bereaved that you have not forgotten about them or their loss. Also, even if a few weeks have passed since the death, flowers are a comforting reminder that friends are still thinking of the family throughout the grieving process.

Nowadays, thanks to the Internet, it's possible to go online and find a number of businesses that will deliver them to a location of your choosing (I found quite a number with a very simply Google search for "flower delivery services"); simply find one that operates in the city that the family of your deceased relative lives in, and get them to deliver a bouquet of flowers to them, along with a card expressing your condolences.

This will allow you to express your emotions for them, without needing to physically visit them, and would allow for a written message to reach them much more rapidly than a letter sent to them via snail mail (though without the opportunity for you to personally sign it). It would also allow you to almost-literally put your money where your mouth is, since flowers can be quite expensive.


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