Query: Responding to news of a death

Dear EtiKate
My boss just sent me an e-mail saying, ‘He has to postpone our meeting because he will be attending his father’s funeral.’ How do I convey my condolences when I do not know the deceased?
-Asked in person

Photo credit bbrooks.com

Photo credit bbrooks.com

Dear Readers

News of a death should be met with sensitivity. In this case, when the bereaved is known to you and not the deceased, simply reply with a succinct ‘I’m sorry for your loss.’
Sign the e-mail ‘With sympathy’.

Refrain from asking for details. It is not necessary to say anything further when you next see the bereaved. Judge the tone of the situation and proceed accordingly.

I shall write a post on how to write a letter of condolence very soon.


EtiKate will answer all your etiquette related questions. Submit your problems, dilemmas or queries in the Dear EtiKate section.


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