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How to Inform Someone of a Death by Email

How to inform people about a loved one’s death

When someone close to you dies, one of the first tasks you may have is to let everyone who loved them know about their passing. This is likely to be one of the most difficult things you will have to do, but it’s a necessary step in celebrating the person’s life and mourning their loss.

Depending on who they are and their relationship to your loved one, what you say to each person is going to be different, as will their responses. Prepare emotionally for these to be difficult conversations; take a deep breath before reaching out, and stay open to the various types of responses you’ll receive. Grief is a very complex set of emotions, and it can evoke a whole spectrum of reactions. Some people even laugh when they hear someone has passed away, as a response to the anxiety they’re feeling or as a coping mechanism. Others will immediately fall apart, screaming and crying. Be prepared to encounter these and a whole range of responses in between.

What should you do before sending a death announcement email?

If you’re sending out a death announcement through email, it can help to already have a memorial website set up pre-emptively that you can share with those you’re emailing. Memorial websites are places where you can post funeral event information, collect RSVPs, collect and share condolences, and much, much more. They also reduce the number of messages you need to send by holding all the important information and conversations in one place.

Sending out a notification by email is appropriate in many cases, but especially when you’re trying to alert acquaintances, coworkers, distant family members, and other community members who should learn about the death. In the case where you need to alert a close family member or close friend of the deceased, an email is typically not the best method of notification. In these cases, you’ll want to give this news in person or over the phone if at all possible.

Example letters announcing the death of an employee

Example 1

I’m deeply saddened to announce that our team member of 10 years, Yvonne Chaney died of a heart attack on Saturday night. During her entire tenure at Blueheart Solutions, she showed motivation, drive and compassion toward others. We already miss her kind spirit and creative mindset. Yvonne’s surviving family includes her husband, two sons and one granddaughter. We send our condolences to them during this time and encourage everyone to sign the sympathy card in the break room by this Friday.

We’ll share information about memorial arrangements as soon as they’re available. We encourage anyone seeking support or struggling with Yvonne’s death to contact me or anyone at HR for support. The company also provides an employee assistance program as part of your benefits, which includes three free sessions of counseling.

Example 2

I’m writing about the tragic news that our customer service manager, Pierce Davies, died unexpectedly yesterday afternoon. Their family has asked for privacy at this time. Pierce was one of the most friendly and welcoming people on our team and always had something kind to say when you passed by their desk in the front office. We know this is shocking news and we share our deepest sympathy with everyone who knew Pierce.

There’s a memorial website available where you can leave messages of remembrance for Pierce’s life, which I linked below. You can also use the site to share messages of support for the family.

Due to this sudden news, we’re offering additional PTO for anyone who wants to take the rest of the day off to process Pierce’s passing. We have counseling available through human resources, so please let us know if you want to talk to someone or need any additional support. We hope we can rely on one another during this sad time.