7 Tips on How to Write a Sympathy Card

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Writing a sympathy card is a thoughtful gesture when someone in your life has lost a loved one. But finding the right words in this time of grief can be challenging. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be elaborate. Regardless of the length, reaching out to this person in their time of grief will help them feel that they’re not alone.

If you’re not sure what to say, that’s understandable. We’ve created this guide to offer ideas about what to write, as well as phrases to avoid.


1. Personalize your message


The best messages are the ones that come directly from the heart. While finding a card with a nice saying in it is great, people pay more attention to what’s handwritten in the card. Try to avoid only signing your name. Even if you don’t know the person well, writing a sentence or two offering condolences goes a long way.


2. Offer condolences


This is an excellent way to begin any sympathy card. Whether or not you know the person well, a simple and sincere condolence will be appreciated.


Examples include:


“I’m so sorry for your loss. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.”


“Thinking of you during this difficult time.”


“Remembering [NAME] and wishing you comfort.”


“My heartfelt sympathy.”


3. Share a quote


If you’re unsure what to say but would like to write something, finding a quote that resonates can be helpful. We’ve included a practical resource from Shutterfly that provides both religious and nonreligious quotes:


Sympathy Quotes and Sayings.


 4. Offer support


A grieving person may not have the capacity to think about what support they might need as they are still coming to terms with their loss. Stating specific tasks that you are willing to help with, such as offering to walk the dog or watch over the kids, may be very much appreciated by the reader.


5. Share a memory


Sharing your favourite memory about the deceased can comfort the person reading it. It can be something that they can cherish and hold as a real connection in celebrating that person’s life. You might even share something they didn’t know about their loved one, which is a priceless gift.


This moment allows you to be light-hearted and share a happier story. If you worked with them, you might offer a memory from a meeting you had or a conversation over lunch. If you’re also related to them, you might include a story from your childhood or a fond memory that you all share.


6. Examples of what NOT to say


As a general note, avoid mentioning anything in regards to how the person died. This can be quite triggering and is best not to be said.


Some other phrases that are best avoided include:


“I know how you feel.”


“This happened for a reason.”


“They’re no longer suffering.”


“Time heals all wounds.”


7. How to sign off your sympathy card


If you’re close to the grieving person, some appropriate sign-offs include:


“With love.”


“Thinking of you.”


If you’d prefer a more formal sign-off, something such as “sending my deepest condolences,” “sincerely,” or “warm regards” are safe options.


More professional sign-offs such as “best” can come off as too casual and insensitive, so try to avoid them.


Your message matters


It’s understandable if you feel hesitant about sending a sympathy card. However, it’ll be greatly appreciated by following these tips and approaching it with sincerity and care.


If you’re writing a note in an online guestbook, please refer to our blog post: Tips to help you write a message of condolence on an online obituary.


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