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My mother is writing a condolence letter and wants to say that

[the deceased] was always a warm presence in our lives.

She used Präsenz but this sounds odd to me. I looked up presence on Dict.cc and nothing seemed quite right. What’s the equivalent German idiom?

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  • 2
    Note: I corrected the spelling of Präsenz.
    – chirlu
    Aug 9, 2015 at 5:09
  • 3
    It's less a translation problem but more a question of images - not idiomatic at all, IMHO.
    – Stephie
    Aug 9, 2015 at 9:30

2 Answers 2

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I would not use Präsenz as it boils down to phyisical presence which is not what you mean. I'd suggest to use Anwesenheit and would say something like:

Durch seine Herzlichkeit hat uns seine Anwesenheit stets mit Wärme erfüllt.

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If someone is said to be a presence it sounds to me like an esoteric entity (think of a ghost or some kind of mystical power). In German - at least on my account - people would not say to be a presence in this context but rather say his/her presence. More generally speaking (not just about my feeling), saying someone is a presence focusses on this someone's appearance. Hence saying someone is a presence refers to his or her charisma.

Therefore it is hard to express the exact same thing in German. I would recommend:

[Seine/Ihre] [Anwesenheit/Gegenwart] in unserem Leben war [immer/stets] von Wärme und Herzlichkeit geprägt.

Or with a little stronger emphasis:

[Seine/Ihre] [Anwesenheit/Gegenwart] brachte [immer/stets] Wärme und Herzlichkeit in unser Leben.

But as I said, both are not quite the exact same thing compared to what your mother wrote. Hence my recommendations are more a matter of taste than proper translations. Both do not make a statement about [the deceased], but about his or her presence. The first one might sound a little formal (von Wärme geprägt instead of just warm, which in this case would not sound right). The second one means, that [the deceased] brought warmth in our lives.

My sincere condolences by the way.

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  • Thank you! Can you still use Anwesenheit or Gegenwart if the person was not actually physically present? I.e. he lived far away but he would write to us and so on. Also, thank you for your condolences! :) Aug 10, 2015 at 2:36
  • @MissMonicaE - Sorry for taking so very long. In that case, I would suggest dendragons answer, but replacing Anwesenheit with Bekanntschaft, ending up with: Durch seine Herzlichkeit hat uns seine Bekanntschaft stets mit Wärme erfüllt.
    – Wamseln
    Oct 22, 2015 at 21:47

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