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Joe Biden sits at a desk, writing in a book
Then - U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden writes a diplomatic message of condolence regarding the death of Polish President Lech Kaczyński and his wife.

Condolences (from Latin con (with) + dolore (sorrow)) are an expression of sympathy to someone who is experiencing pain arising from death, deep mental anguish, or misfortune.[1]

The use of the word "condolences", in plural, is more common than "condolence". The reason for this habit is unclear,[2] but it resembles our habit to send someone our 'regards', 'best wishes', greetings' (all plural), etc.

When individuals condole, or offer their condolences to a particular situation or person, they are offering active conscious support of that person or activity. This is often expressed by saying, "Sorry". Often, the English language expression "My condolences" will be in a context, such as death of a friend's loved one, in which the one offering of condolences is communicating feelings of sympathy or empathy to that friend. Condolence is not always expressed in sorrow or grievance, as it can also be used to acknowledge a fellow feeling or even a common opinion.

There are various ways of expressing condolences to the victims. Examples include donating money to the charity nominated by the person who has just died, writing in a condolences book or supporting the friends and family of the loved one by making meals and looking after them in various ways in times of need.

A study from 2020 found that the specific words of condolence offered by doctors to grieving survivors can play a role in how those survivors fare in terms of subsequent mental health outcomes.[3]


  1. ^ "condolence". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  2. ^ search for "condolence" accessed 2016-06-16
  3. ^ "Condolences in the age of corona: new study shows that a doctor's choice of comforting words matters". PsychNewsDaily. 2021-03-15. Retrieved 2021-04-16.

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