When someone has lost a loved one, all they have left are memories. One of the kindest things you can do is share your stories. I have heard the bereaved mention that they learned many things about their loved ones through colleagues, friends, former classmates, and others. They read stories in the notes of sympathy that they’d never heard before and it was all the more bittersweet now that their loved one was gone.
Take the time to do some preparation before your write your condolence notes. Think about your relationship to the deceased and find a shared experience, a conversation, or a deed that demonstrates the positive qualities of the deceased. Even if the bereaved is aware of the story, they will appreciate the opportunity to remember something unique or special about their loved one. And they’ll have an opportunity to think of you and the bereaved in such a thoughtful way.