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20-40-60 Etiquette: Is email proper for condolences?

The women of 20-40-60 answer readers’ questions about proper etiquette. Yvette Walker has the guest answer.
BY CALLIE GORDON, LILLIE-BETH BRINKMAN AND HELEN FORD WALLACE, For The Oklahoman Published: August 18, 2014
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QUESTION: How do you feel about offering a condolence message about a death via email?

CALLIE’S ANSWER: There is not a wrong way to give your condolences or prayers. The fact that you’re thinking of them and praying for them during this time is really what matters.

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: If you send an email offering sympathy to someone, keep in mind that it’s not as personal as a handwritten note or other gesture would be. However, it is one, quick way to reach out and let the person who has lost a loved one know that you are thinking about them.

Of course, it’s important to know whether the person who is grieving uses email. An email can be comforting to a person, too, but a handwritten note or your presence somewhere else (a meal, funeral attendance, donation, etc.) is even better.

HELEN’S ANSWER: It is still proper to send a hand-signed sympathy card or note. It conveys the message that you are thinking of the people involved with more than just a couple of informal lines over the Internet.

If you learned about the death via email or other social media, emailing can be an immediate response as it is sometimes necessary to get in touch with the sender right away. Then you might follow up with a written message later. Generally email is used for casual or informational brief messages.

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