How to Write Sympathy Letters

Misery does not always love company, but when people have problems. They can get by a little better with some help — or at least a shoulder to lean on — from their friends.

A letter of sympathy is also a letter of empathy, helping other people get through difficult periods by showing that you understand and are there for them. Occasions that call for a sympathy letter can include personal injury or illness, separation or divorce, loss of a job or going out of business, failing a grade or dropping out of college, or any other unpleasant or negative occurrence.

Tips for Writing Sympathy Letters

• Acknowledge the negativity, pain, and suffering the person may be enduring.

• Point out any positives that may result or be seen in the situation without minimizing the negatives.

• Offer your help — as generously as you are willing and feel comfortable.

Sample Sympathy Letter:

Dear Arnie,

Your brother told me that, despite a great audition, you didn’t get the lead in the senior play. But as the understudy, you should learn the role as if you did have the lead. After all, people get sick. (They even break legs — hence the show-business expression, “Break a leg!”) And even if you do not act in this show, mastering such a difficult role as Robespierre will serve you well in your future acting endeavors.

I had a similar situation in school, though in a different area: I wanted to be editor of the school paper, but the teacher in charge picked another student.

I was crushed, but kept writing — and as you know, I now have a regular column in my industry trade paper. So persistence pays!

By the way, it’s time you came into New York to see your old uncle. Pick whichever Broadway show you want. The tickets, and a great dinner, are on me — my treat.

Feel better, smile, and keep up your spirits. You are great, and that’s all that matters!


Uncle Andy

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