Now it gets awkward. Aunt Mazie passed on and Uncle Saul is devastated, but they’re actually your aunt and uncle twice removed and you’ve only met them once or twice at a family reunion. What do you say?
Dear Uncle Saul,
I was so sorry to hear about Aunt Mazie. I didn’t know her well, but she struck me as such a delightful woman. I wish I had gotten a chance to know her better. I’m keeping you in my prayers, and thinking about you often.
It’s always helpful if you can remember one little thing about a person that might make the person whom you’re writing to smile through their tears, such as:
Uncle Saul really made me laugh when he did that trick with the mashed potatoes at the family reunion. He was such a character!
The flower arrangements Aunt Mazie made for the tables at the family reunion were so beautiful. She was such a talented lady.
Even if you barely know someone, surely you can find one small remembrance, something that they did or accomplished or even just a gesture that you can bring up to make your note more personal, and bring back a happy memory.