Condolences to Friends in Australia

Australians remembered the victims of the tragic bushfires today in a national day of mourning. I send condolences to our neighbors on the other side of the globe. I am sorry for your heartbreaking losses of loved ones, property, and community.

Fionna wrote asking for help to write a condolence message to friends:

"I want to send a card to friends who lost their home in the recent bushfires in Victoria, Australia. Luckily they were away when the fires hit, but with the loss of their home and its contents and the damage to the community, I would like to commiserate with them. Any ideas on what to write?"

Yes, Fionna. I do have ideas. Since Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. Southeast in 2005, I have been sharing examples and suggestions for notes of sympathy and commiseration in my Writing Condolences category. In fact, the examples in response to Hurricane Katrina fit the bushfires well. You need only change the details from hurricane to bushfire.

But here's a sample message for you to adapt:

Dear Simon and Samantha,

I am so sorry about the loss of your home and the devastation of your lovely community. You have been in my thoughts since the blaze struck. I was relieved knowing you were away from home, but I share your sorrow in all that you have lost.

Please know that I am thinking of you in your time of sadness and loss.


This example is for someone who lost a family member:

Dear Stephen,

Please accept my condolences on the death of your brother Nigel. His sudden death at the hands of the bushfires is tragic and heartbreaking. We all wish we could undo what happened and bring him back as his funny, wisecracking self. The world is a lesser place without Nigel in it.

I wish I had words that could make your pain less. But at least you know my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as you grieve.

In sympathy,


I extend my sympathy to all who suffered a loss in Victoria. I hope these examples are helpful.

Syntax Training


  1. Lynn,
    These are wonderful examples, and so simple to create. Thanks for sharing them.
    It amazes me how few people are able to due the decent thing in sending a thoughtful card to someone who’s experiencing a difficult time. The best note I’ve ever received came from a close colleague shortly after I’d been unceremoniously laid off from my job. It read, “Words do not suffice. -Gail” I knew precisely what she meant and she didn’t have to agonize over her word choice in order to send the very kind thought.

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