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How to write an excuse letter for a funeral

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Photo by MJ S on Unsplash

When someone has died and you’re unable to attend their memorial, it is considerate to send your apologies in a funeral excuse letter, along with your condolences, to the bereaved family.

Your employer, too, may require written notice of your intention to attend the funeral of a family member or friend, so you may need to write an excuse letter for work, due to the funeral arrangements.

Here are some examples of the kind of funeral letter you can write, whether you are unable to attend the service, or are requesting the time you need off, from work.

Funeral excuse letter for when you cannot attend

In an ideal world, you’d like to attend the funeral of someone who meant a lot to you. You’ll want to be there to pay your respects and support your friends and family.

Sometimes this is just not possible. Although conveying your sympathy in person is always preferable, a well-written apology letter will show that you still care.

If you’re finding it difficult to find the right words, here are a few tips:

  • Write the letter as soon as possible.
  • If you have time on hand, a handwritten, posted letter is more personal.
  • Keep the letter short and straightforward, while still emphasising your sympathy.
  • Remind the bereaved of your support and, if possible, in what ways you are available to them.
  • Be honest and state the reasons for not attending the funeral.
  • Try to schedule some time with the family or friend in the future.


Dear Louise,

I was devastated to hear the news of your father [or his name]’s death yesterday. He was a wonderful man and I still remember spending time with him and learning from his experiences and life advice.

Unfortunately, I am unable to attend the funeral, but please accept my sincerest apologies.

You and [name] are in my thoughts at this sad time. I’ll always remember your father’s love and zest for life. He will be missed.

With love/In sympathy

A funeral excuse letter for work

When writing a letter to attend a loved one’s funeral, it is important to give the recipient a clear depiction of what has happened and how much time you’ll need.

What to include:

  • Briefly mention who has passed away, and where the funeral is taking place. Will you be travelling to a different counties to attend the funeral, or is the service taking place in the same town as your workplace? Keep in mind the travelling distance and how much time will be needed.
  • If it the death of a close family member, you may want to consider your role in funeral arrangements. If this requires more time away from work, make sure your manager is made aware.
  • Are you currently in the process of completing any important projects? If so, ask someone else to handle your workload while you’re gone, or ensure you’re able to catch up after the funeral.

If you’re writing a letter to excuse your child from school for a funeral

When writing a letter to your child’s school make sure you include your child’s name, teacher’s name, year or class as well as, your name. Most schools will be accepting and understanding during your family’s time of need, but including essential details of your child’s absence will be appreciated.


Dear Mrs Carol

I would be grateful if you could excuse Jonathan in Year 5 from class on Tuesday 14 August at 11am, so that he can attend his uncle’s funeral service.

In order to catch up any work he may miss, please could you give him the notes or any assignments that will be handed out.

I truly appreciate your patience and understanding during this difficult time.

Many thanks,
Mrs Gordon

If you’re writing a letter to excuse yourself from work for a funeral

Different company policies will vary when it comes to bereavement leave. In some cases it may be easier than others. Nevertheless, your letter should be simple and professional. Of course, it’s important to explain the purpose of your absence but there is no need to go into tremendous detail.


Dear Mr Smith,

As you may be aware, my mother passed away last week. Please allow me the opportunity to assist my family with final arrangements, and to attend her funeral on Wednesday 6 September. I hope to be back in the office by Monday 11 September.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me. I appreciate your understanding during this difficult time.

Many thanks,
John Ryan

Writing a funeral letter to excuse yourself from a social engagement

Good friends will be completely understanding and supportive during your difficult time. In some instances, you may not even feel the need to write an excuse letter. However, if you’ve made a prior commitment where your attendance is expected, you may feel better writing a letter.


Dear Charlotte,

I am so sorry but I won’t be able to attend your celebration on Saturday.

Unfortunately, my godmother died earlier this week, and we will be out of town attending her funeral.

I hope you have a wonderful time,

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