What to Write in a Sympathy Card

If you know someone who has lost a loved one, you may want to send a sympathy card to show you care. But when it comes to writing a sympathy card, the task itself can be quite daunting.

We can find ourselves going round in circles overthinking what we’ve written, wondering if it’s too much, not enough, or if we’ve even said the right thing. The good news is that there’s no rulebook when it comes to writing sympathy cards and it doesn’t have to be a long piece of writing. In fact, leaving a short sympathy more than enough to let family and friends know you’re thinking of them.

It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it is important. Reaching out to someone letting them know you care and are thinking of them can make their time of grief a little easier. In this instance, it really is the thought that counts as it can mean a great deal to those grieving to know that you are thinking of them and have made the effort to contact them.

Before you start writing your heartfelt condolences, there are a few things to consider. Below is a list of tips to help you when it comes to writing your sympathy message.

  1. Keep it personal

An authentic handwritten message can mean a lot to someone dealing with grief. It shows that you’ve sat down and thought about it as opposed to buying a pre-written card. Sharing fond memories and sincere feelings is a respectful way to remember the passing of a loved one and to offer condolences to their friends and family.

  1. Offer your assistance

If you’re able to offer support, then definitely mention this in your sympathy card. Those grieving will often have lots to do and will appreciate any help you may be able to offer even if they don’t take you up on it. You could offer to make dinner, buy groceries, or help with childcare; anything that helps to reduce stress and lighten the workload. This can make their lives a little easier and allow them space to grieve for their loved one.

  1. Acknowledge the death

You might find yourself tiptoeing around the subject to avoid saying the wrong thing, but statements like “we’re so sorry to hear the news” can feel like you’re avoiding the elephant in the room. It is fine to acknowledge the death when expressing your sympathy for the loss of a loved one. This way they know you’re comfortable talking about it and can confide in you moving forward.

  1. Celebrate the loved one

Leaving space in your sympathy card to celebrate the life of a loved one is a great way to share positivity among friends and family. You might reflect on specific memories you shared and how they made you feel. Expressing what they meant to you and how highly people thought of them can mean so much to those who are grieving.

  1. Resist offering advice

Though you mean well, offering advice on how to cope with grief isn’t the best thing to include in your sympathy card. Something that worked for you, may not work for someone else. Everyone grieves differently and sharing your experience isn’t something that should necessarily make up your sympathy message. Remember, you don’t have to solve the situation – writing your thoughtful condolences is more than enough to show you care.

Words to write in a sympathy card:

There are lots of sympathy card messages you can choose from, and each varies on the relationship shared with the loved one. So, when it comes to writing words for a sympathy card, make sure they reflect your relationship and memories. This way, the card will feel more genuine and bring comfort to the family.

The 10 examples below can be used in instances where you didn’t know the person all that well but still want to offer your condolences. They could also be used as a starting point from which you can add in your own more personal words.

  1. I am so sorry for your loss
  2. My thoughts are with you during this difficult time
  3. Sending my love and deepest sympathy to you and your family
  4. I am here for you and your family, whatever you need
  5. I just wanted you to know I’m thinking of you, now more than ever
  6. No words can express how sorry I am for what you are going through
  7. Please know that I’m here for you and don’t hesitate to reach out
  8. Thinking of you and the family. Let me know if there’s anything I can do
  9. I can’t imagine how you must feel, I’m here if you want to talk about it
  10. I wanted to reach out and share my sincere condolences

Along with the written card, a further token of support could also be to include your message with flowers as a comforting gesture.

Whatever you decide, it’s worth knowing that a brief condolences message can be just as warm and caring as a long one. Don’t think you have to fill up the entire card just because there’s space to do so. The important thing is that you’ve expressed your feelings and have reached out to the friend or family member who is grieving. You’ve shown empathy and you’ve let them know you’re thinking of them – which is so much better than not saying anything at all.

For more support following the death of a loved one, there are many organisations that can help. Find out more about bereavement support.

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