How condolences can be expressed following the death of a client or the family member of a client will be guided by several factors including the type of relationship shared with the client, the length of the relationship and the type of loss. While finding the right way to express condolences is not always an easy task, taking the time to share sincere thoughts of sympathy makes a statement of the importance of the relationship.

Sending a condolence gift is a common and appropriate way to express sympathy to friends, colleagues, clients and others. Depending on the traditions and customs observed by the individual the most traditional items include baked goods and desserts, fruit, dried fruit, & nuts, and assorted chocolates. These types of gift items provide both comfort and nourishment to mourning families and are a respectful way to offer condolences.

Sending a Condolence Gift

Following a death, the family gathers and often receives many visitors. One of the most customary and traditional ways to express sympathy and offer condolences is by bringing or sending food and condolence baskets to the family members of the deceased. There are several different types of food arrangements, baskets and sympathy gifts that may be sent. Appropriate food items and gift baskets include baked goods and desserts, fruit, dried fruit, & nuts, and assorted chocolates. A gift basket is generally delivered or shipped to the home of the mourning family. When a family is mourning a loss, it is common to provide support and comforting items. Additionally, those who cannot attend the funeral or memorial service may consider sending a sympathy basket or other condolence item to the home.

Find and Send a Condolence Gift

Select a sympathy gift that helps to comfort family and friends. You can trust’s team of professionals to express your condolences appropriately. You will find the highest-quality products and items carefully selected by the team that are appropriate to send family, friends, colleagues and others.

Gourmet Gifts Baked Goods & Desserts Fruit Baskets Assorted Chocolates

Relationship to Client

Often the relationship between a business person and a client becomes very close. If the relationship has been a long one, it is likely that both have witnessed important personal milestones in life – such as births of children, graduations, and marriages. In the professional world, the relationship may have saved money, avoided problems or opened up profitable opportunities. As such, as a matter of professional courtesy and respect, expressing condolences to a client or the family members is appropriate.

What to Do When a Client Dies

Contact the business of the client as soon as information about the death is received. When speaking with the management or a representative of the department of the deceased, offer a brief but sincere statement of condolence. It is customary express condolences when a client or client’s family member passes away. An appropriate expression of sympathy is often demonstrated through sympathy card that expresses condolences by offering kind words and perhaps referencing some of the qualities of the deceased that were evident because of the relationship shared.  In many instances on behalf of a company and/or its employees a sympathy gift is also sent as a sign of respect and to provide additional comfort for the family.

Samples of how to express condolence on the phone or written might include:

“This is John Smith of XYZ Company and I wanted to let you know that I was saddened to hear of the passing of Ben Worker. Ben had been a client of mine for almost five years. I always appreciated his cheerful presence and thoughtful approach to his job. Please accept my sympathy for your company’s loss. I know Ben will be missed.”

It would be appropriate at this point to ask about the details and arrangements for the funeral. In some traditions or cultures, a gift of a flower arrangement sent to the funeral home or residence of the family would express honor for the deceased and compassion for the family. If the relationship shared was a lengthy or special one, appearing at the visitation or funeral service would be a thoughtful way of showing support.

What to Do When the Family Member of a Client Dies

When the death of a client’s loved one occurs, it is natural to want to express feelings of sympathy. If the relationship has been a close one, the expressions will be very meaningful and appropriate. If possible, a personal appearance at either the visitation or the funeral will affirm the importance of your relationship. If distance or schedules prohibit the visit, a sympathy card, along with a memorial gift of flowers or sympathy basket can express sorrow.

Here are some guidelines for both personal and written condolences.

  1. Acknowledge the loss. A brief statement of sorrow for the loss can help the client know he or she is being remembered during this difficult circumstance and that there is value placed on the relationship shared. The note may be personal (“I was so sorry to hear about your loss”) or for the business (“On behalf of those at the XYZ Business, I am writing to express our sympathy at this time of sadness and loss”).
  2. Expressing condolences. Again, a brief but sincere statement offering the sympathy will convey the importance of the relationship and the empathy felt at a time of loss. The words can be very simple: “Please accept my sympathy for your loss” or “There are no words to express my heartfelt sympathy to your and your family.”
  3.  Mention the relationship. Though little may be known about the deceased, the sympathy is based upon the relationship shared with the client. (If the deceased was known, it would be appropriate to speak in a way that acknowledges the qualities or characteristics of the deceased. “Each time that I met Ben I was impressed by his energy and enthusiasm for all that he did.”) Affirm the importance of your relationship and your sympathy for the loss. “In the ten years that I have known you, we have certainly shared a lot of experiences together. I can only imagine how difficult this loss is for you. Please know that I am thinking of you at this time. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do to help.”
  4.  Follow up. If the relationship with the client has been a long or meaningful one, a follow-up note can add remembrance and thoughtfulness at a future time when grief may be strong. When the initial condolence message is sent, make a notation in the calendar for the year anniversary.

 Sample Bereavement Notice/Letter

A simple message marking the anniversary of the death will offer strength and encouragement to the client. The message could convey some of these thoughts:

Dear Mrs. Smith,

With the holiday season approaching, I couldn’t help but remember that it was during the Christmas vacation that you suffered the unfortunate and untimely passing of your daughter, Robin.

I just wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you during this difficult time of year. May you find comfort in your memories of your loving daughter.


Jane Jones
XYZ Company


Sending a sympathy card can be a meaningful way to convey condolence. Though appropriate expressions of sympathy can be found in cards from a store, a blank note with short, but meaningful sentiments can add the personal touch to the condolence thoughts.

Sending a condolence message of this type is more than just showing sympathy, it is the perfect way to strengthen your relationship. Such a note is more than just a kind gesture. At a time when many are avoiding contact because they do not know what to say, personal notes of condolence affirm that the relationship is important enough for to remember the loss, important enough to fight through the awkwardness of uncertain words, and important enough for the assurance that there is more to life than a sales or service call.


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