After the death of a leading figure or great disaster, condolence books are placed in public places for members of the general public to use. When closed, the books are given to the relatives of the deceased or archived. Reviewing a condolence book may help grieving relatives come to terms with the reality of their loss.
After especially notable deaths, official records of the condolences may be compiled and reprinted. For example, after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the Government Printing Office published a leather-bound, gilt-edged collection of official condolences in 1867.
Digital condolence books are now placed on the Internet so people may write their thoughts on-line.
- John Shep Jeffreys, Helping grieving people when tears are not enough: a handbook for care providers
- Carolyn Lawton Harrell, When the bells tolled for Lincoln: Southern reaction to the assassination
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