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Aid and Sympathy to NY, NJ, and the Coast

While much of the United States celebrates or laments the results of yesterday’s elections, the East Coast is experiencing more bad weather. Although much smaller than the attack of Superstorm Sandy last week, Winter Storm Athena may again cripple communities with wind and water. (Before you wonder about my capitalization of storms, I am following The Weather Channel’s style.)

Have you wondered how you can help those who are suffering from Sandy and now Athena?

You can contribute cash to the American Red Cross. It takes just a minute to send money on its way to storm relief efforts. Why not send what you can afford now?

And you can send messages of caring and sympathy to people you know who are suffering great losses or whose lives have been disrupted.

Whether you communicate by a handwritten note, email, Facebook, LinkedIn, or another means, connecting with people you know can make them feel less discouraged and alone. Reaching out can also solidify your business and personal relationships. Your business contacts will appreciate your writing to them in this difficult time, rather than avoiding any mention of the ordeal that has darkened their daily experience.

Why not write a sympathy message now?

If you experience a loss of words as you stare at the screen or paper, these examples of condolence notes can get you started.

Dear Oscar,

I am so sorry about the destruction of your beautiful home in last week’s storm. Recognizing how much your home meant to you and Jean, I hardly know what to say in the face of such ruin and disappointment.

Please accept my condolences and know that I am thinking of you as you dig out, literally and figuratively.

Warm regards,



Dear Caroline,

Please accept my sympathy on the death of your wonderful husband. I am so sorry about the terrible accident that took his life. The fact that Frank died in an attempt to save others illustrates the courage and love that filled him.

I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers as you grieve this deep loss.

With sympathy,



Hello, Warren. I just learned from Brittany that your cottage on the Jersey Shore was wiped out in last week’s storm. Please accept my sympathy on your loss.

As someone who was lucky enough to have been your guest, I know how much fun you and your family shared in that bungalow and how many good memories you must have. I am very sad that the cottage is gone.

You are in my thoughts.



Dear Ivana,

I am so sorry that the storm destroyed the deli. What a loss! I know how much hard work and sweat went into that shop, and I am deeply sorry for what has happened.

I have no idea what your plans are now, but I will be thinking of you and Chris as you sort out your lives over the next weeks and months.

Please accept my condolences.



Dear Lin,

I am very sad to learn that your beautiful boat was wrecked in the storm. You have enjoyed so many good times on My Muse. It is difficult to imagine that she is gone.

If there is anything I can do to brighten your days, please let me know.


Ed Smith



How sad I am to learn that your lovely Twinkles was lost in the storm! I know how you treasure that dog, and I can imagine that the lack of knowing what happened to her is extremely painful.

I am very sorry about this situation. Know that you and Twinkles are in my thoughts.

Warmest wishes,


I have written many posts on how to write condolence messages, particularly in response to natural disasters. You can find a range of examples in this section of the blog.

To all in North America whose lives have been negatively affected by the horrible storm, I extend to you my hopes for peace, comfort, and a return to normalcy in your lives.




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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

2 comments on “Aid and Sympathy to NY, NJ, and the Coast”

  • Thank you for the condolence examples. I find condolence notes some of the hardest and most important writing I do.

    To bring a bit of levity to an otherwise serious topic – I share the National Weather Service’s stance regarding winter storm naming. Just say no! I will not participate in The Weather Channel’s attempt to make itself more important and dominant in the weather news arena by allowing spreading the abomination that is winter storm naming.

  • Jennifer, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Also, thanks for pointing out that the National Weather Service does not name winter storms. I had not realized that, and I wonder how they refer to them.

    I have to say that I prefer names for momentous things like storms. “Superstorm Sally” will click for me much longer than “the huge storm that hit the East Coast at the end of October 2012.”


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