The news that your friend's grandmother has passed away can leave you feeling uncomfortable and uncertain about how to approach your friend. You may also be left trying to figure out how you can help. There are several things you can include in a sympathy letter to comfort your friend during this difficult time.
Things to Write
Sending a sympathy letter is among the more traditional ways to acknowledge someone's passing, and a letter can be as short as a single sentence, according to the Emily Post Institute article, "Sympathy Notes and Letters." In your letter, you can mention your love and concern for your friend, as well as any positive memories you have of her grandmother. If you are able to help, you might also mention specific ways you can assist, like picking up your friend's younger siblings from school or helping her write her grandmother's eulogy.
What You Should Not Include
Not all sentiments are created equally. Focusing on the positive, like telling your friend that at least her grandmother lived to an old age, should be avoided, according to the Everplans.com article, "How to Express Sympathy: What to Say and What Not to Say." Making assumptions about your friend's religious beliefs, or her grandmother's, should also be avoided. Remember that grief can go on long beyond the funeral, even if the grandmother's death was drawn out. Telling your friend that she will soon feel better, or telling her what she should do during this time, can also be undermining.
Your sympathy letter can be as short as, "I heard about your grandmother's passing, and I am sorry for your loss," according to the Emily Post Institute article, "Sympathy Notes and Letters." You might also write, "I am so sorry about your grandmother's death. She had a great sense of humor and she was always so kind to me. I am thinking of you, and I will call to check on you in a few days."
While handwritten letters are a traditional means of expressing condolences, it is increasingly acceptable to share your sympathy through social networks, according to the Everplans.com article, "How to Offer Condolences." Sending your sympathy through email or leaving a message on a funeral home memorial web site can be a non-intrusive way to express your condolences to a younger person. In general, you should not acknowledge the death of your friend's grandmother in a public medium unless your friend has already done so. Sending a private message may be a better choice in such a situation.