How To Write a Letter To Inform of the Death of an Employee
Updated March 10, 2023
When someone on your team dies, sharing the news with others respectfully is important for allowing them to grieve appropriately. Writing a respectful and empathetic letter is a good strategy for sharing the death of a team member with your staff and providing them with an opportunity to share condolences or ask questions. Selecting your language carefully and being thoughtful when writing this type of announcement letter can provide comfort to your team during a challenging time.
In this article, we explain the importance of sending a letter to inform others of the death of an employee, share steps on how to write one and provide examples to use as a model.
Why is it important to send a letter to inform of the death of an employee?
When an employee dies, informing everyone in a respectful way is important for several key reasons, including:
Transparency: Everyone on the team deserves to be aware that one of their colleagues has died. Sending a letter and informing them right away can prevent them from being shocked and finding out from another source of information later.
Respect: Sending a letter also shows respect to the deceased and their family. It demonstrates that you value their contributions to the company enough to share a message of remembrance.
Support: When someone on your team dies, it can impact others on the staff. Sending a letter can give you the opportunity to share resources and provide a network of support to those mourning the loss.
Related: How To Take Bereavement Leave
How to write a letter to inform your team of the death of an employee
Once you receive permission from the deceased staff member's next of kin, it's time to communicate with your team about their death. Here are some basic guidelines to use when preparing a letter explaining that one of your team members died:
1. Use a direct, serious subject line
When sending an email announcing the death of someone on your team, start with a subject line that indicates a serious, urgent subject. Use a somber tone so everyone who receives the email knows that it's not a standard work email. When referencing that someone at the company died, you can mention the loss of a team member or name the employee. Here are some examples of subject lines:
The passing of Garret Watson
Announcing the loss of an admired employee
Mourning the death of Kaitlin Mackey
Valued team member Raven Lambert passes away
2. Announce the employee's death
Use the first few sentences of the letter to notify the team of the name of the employee who died and the date of their date. Be direct when sharing the information, but also be considerate when choosing your language. You can recognize that a situation is a sad while also clearly communicating the facts. During the announcement, reference the sadness involved by sharing the information to empathize with the situation.
Here are some examples:
It is with great sadness that I share that on Monday, Jordan White's family informed us of his death last weekend. We all feel the impact of his loss.
On September 8, 2021, our team experienced a grave loss when Piper Joseph died in an accident. We understand the shock and tragedy of Piper's sudden loss and our thoughts are with her family and friends during this difficult time.
We regret to inform you of the death of our valued marketing manager, Charlene Williams. She died of natural causes in her sleep on October 16 and is survived by her two daughters and three grandchildren.
3. Only include appropriate details
When writing the letter, only include details that are appropriate and relevant. Talk to the deceased's family or next of kin before sending the letter to determine what information they want you to share. Some people may be comfortable with you sharing their loved one's cause of death, while others may want that information to remain private. Remember that being respectful is your main goal when writing the letter, so collaborating with the family about what details to include is essential.
If you include a cause of death in the letter, mention it briefly. Including too many details can distract from other aspects of the letter, such as celebrating the employee's accomplishments or sharing resources for support. Use your best judgment on how to discuss difficult topics.
4. Reflect on the team member's positive attributes
Share some biographic information about the team member and share some positive details about the individual's life and career. You can discuss their role within the company, some of their biggest accomplishments or aspects of their personality that left an impression on others on the team. If you have information about their personal life, you can also mention their surviving family members and personal passions. Explain how you and others on the staff are going to miss this person and their presence on the team.
5. Share details about the funeral or reception
If the family asked you to invite their colleagues to a funeral, viewing, reception or another memorial event, include details in the letter. List information about the date, time and any other relevant event details. Some workplaces may offer time off during work to attend memorial events or even have a carpool so people can share transportation. Coordinate these details in a separate paragraph from the initial announcement.
6. Explain workplace accommodations
Recognize that many people on your team may have a personal bond with the deceased and the announcement of their death can have a significant impact. If your organization is offering any accommodations to support the team during this difficult time, provide an overview in the letter. You can explain that anyone is welcome to contact HR to ask for support or share specific resources, such as access to a staff counselor or an employee assistance program. Validate the emotions of your team members and explain that the company is here to provide assistance through the mourning process.
7. Coordinate any efforts for their family
You may want to organize a gift or card for the family of the deceased to show your sympathy for their loss. If you're planning to send something, you can explain that a card is available for people to sign. Describe the location of the card and provide a deadline by which anyone who wants to participate needs to sign or write a note.
8. Finish with a kind message
End the note with a sympathetic message. When closing the letter, be respectful and understand that some people receiving the note may be close friends with the deceased, while others may only be acquaintances. Encourage everyone to support one another and take care of their own wellbeing during this sad time. At the end of the letter, sign your name.
Template letter sharing the death of an employee
Use this template as an outline for your announcement letter:
Dear [company name] staff,
We're saddened to share that we learned of the death of [employee name] on [date]. They were a valued member of our [department] team and we'll miss their [characteristics]. They're survived by [family members] and we ask that you send your thoughts and condolences to their family at this difficult time.
We have a card available in the break room for you to sign by [date]. Their family arranged a public memorial next week on [date] and all are welcome to attend.
[Name] was a well-liked member of the [company] family and their death is a great loss. We have a counselor available from human resources for anyone seeking support. Please reach out if you want someone to talk to during this time.
We offer our greatest sympathy to all who are impacted by this tragedy.
Example letters announcing the death of an employee
Here are a few examples of letters sharing the death of someone on your team:
Dear Blueheart Solutions staff,
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.
My deepest condolences to everyone who knew Yvonne and enjoyed her bright presence in the office.
Dear Openstrip Technologies team,
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.
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