Grief and loss are not limited to the funeral. The grief process lasts a lifetime. What you write in a sympathy card is important because it can offer comfort.
Who knows what to say when someone passes away? After hearing the news, many of us want to reach out with condolences, but aren’t sure exactly what to say. Often, some have no clue where to begin or what the right words are. However, in the face of loss, sadness, and shock it’s vital that friends and family reach out to those grieving and let them know how much they’re cared for. So if you’re looking for the right sympathy messages or what to write in a sympathy card, look to our guide below.
It’s no easy task to sign a heartfelt sympathy card, but it is the right thing to do. You may sit and ponder things like what you would want those close to you to say in a moment like this. You may begin to write and then worry you might say the wrong things. It’s important to remember that in darkness sometimes all you need to be reminded of is a little light. Even though writing a card that says, ‘Sorry for your loss,’ isn’t easy, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t important. And your condolence messages may be just the light that person needs.
The following sympathy messages are meant to give you a guideline to follow for bringing warmth to a grieving heart. Use them as they are, combine them or customize them to express your feelings.
Whether you want to express your own feelings, acknowledge the feelings of others, share a memory or offer ongoing support, you’re going to need to put all of these sentiments into the right words. Remember that you can be brief and still come off as warm and comforting. Let your own judgment as well as these examples guide you in drafting your sympathy messages with a serious and sincere tone.
Examples of Sympathy Card Wording:
They say that a father’s guiding hand always sits on the shoulder of his children. And, although he may be in a better place, losing such a strong figure in life is one of the hardest things many of us will go through. Think about retelling how this person’s father lived, how he smiled and how he loved when drafting a sympathy card messages for the loss of a father. Additionally, consider visiting our additional resource on Miss You Dad Quotes and Messages.
Just as with the loss of a father, losing your mother is profound. It can be of great comfort for a grieving person to hear how much you admired and cared for their mother. Extend your caring thoughts, admiration, and words of condolences with these examples.
Writing sympathy quotes in a sympathy card that truly capture how sorry you are for someone's loss can be a daunting task. What if I say the wrong thing? What if .
This is the most comprehensive guide on what to write in a sympathy card. Period.
You’ll find over 130 sympathy messages for friends, family, coworkers and more on this page. As well as a complete guide to writing your own sympathy card messages.
So if you’re struggling with what to say in a sympathy card, this is the post for you.
Writing a sympathy message can be hard. Finding the appropriate words and offering your condolences in a fairly short, simple way is difficult for most of us.
These examples should help to show you the sort of sympathy messages and sentiments that you can express in your card.
You may want to say just a few short words of condolence in your card. Keeping things simple and not saying too much can often be more appropriate.
The following examples are suitable for most situations and can be used in a card or in person.
A friend losing a loved one is never easy. We don’t want to see a close friend grieving or in pain. So expressing your sympathy for their loss and being there for them is part a strong friendship.
Try to show your support and offer anything they may need. And don’t be afraid to show your compassion and empathy in your sympathy wishes to them.
See more condolence messages for friends.
The loss of someone as important as a mother is heartbreaking for her children. It’s an incredibly difficult time for them and one that should be handled with sensitivity.
Use your message to be positive about the persons mother. Maybe mention a story or anecdote about them. Or just a fond memory you have. Whatever it is, show your respects with a heartfelt message of sympathy for the loss of a mother.
Much like losing a mother, the loss of a father will be devastating to his family. In a time like this it can be comforting for his children to be reminded of the sort of man he was. Reflect on the positive qualities he had and how you admired him. The examples here should give you an idea of how to express those condolences.
There can be nothing as painful as losing a child. Most of us will be unable to comprehend the pain and heartbreak it brings. A parent outliving their son is one of life’s tragedies.
Words will do nothing to help that pain but showing they are loved and have people who care for them may bring some comfort. So use the sympathy messages below to try and offer some solace in such a dreadful time.
The loss of a daughter will be equally as crushing as that of a son. Try to offer your condolences on the most thoughtful way you can with these sympathy messages.
Losing anyone from your life is terrible. But the loss of a spouse is one of the worst. For someone you have loved more than almost anyone and have spent your life with – the pain will be immense.
So if you know someone that has suffered the loss of their husband then these words of sympathy should offer support in their time of grieving.
As with losing a husband, the loss of a wife will affect their partner and family profoundly. Show your support and reach out to offer some comfort with a touching sympathy card message.
Siblings are often extremely close to one another. So losing a brother will have a dramatic and painful impact on his brothers and sisters.
Show your understanding and empathy with a heartfelt condolence message for the loss of a brother. Use the examples below to help.
Just as with losing a brother, the loss of a sister will be impossible to bear. Her siblings will be bereft with the death of their beloved family member. Try to be there for them and show that through a supportive sympathy message.
Work colleagues may not be as close as family or friends. But losing someone you are used to seeing every day at work can be deeply affecting.
Use these messages to send a sympathy note or card to the family of your coworker expressing your sorrow for their loss.
Writing a sympathy message for someone you don’t know well can be even more difficult than to a loved one. Striking the right tone and using appropriate words is important. Use these examples as a guide for what to say.
We love our pets just as much as family. They become equally as important to us, and we grieve their loss in the same way. The passing of a pet is deeply moving and will be felt very strongly by their owners.
So you should offer your condolences and sympathy in the same way you would any other loss. Show respect and understand for the bereaved and their grief.
If you make the decision to write your own sympathy message, rather than using one of the examples above, then you can follow some steps to get the perfect wording and format.
Whilst it may seem daunting trying to find the best words of condolence, it doesn’t have to. Most people will appreciate the time and effort you have taken to write and send a sympathy card.
Even if your words aren’t absolutely perfect, as long as you are sincere and they come from the heart then they will be received with gratitude and warmth.
Try following these guidelines:
The way you write your sympathy message and the tone you take is determined by who it is intended for. A close family member will receive a very different type of message than an acquaintance.
If you aren’t very close to them then a short, simple condolence message is probably best. Avoid being too emotional or sentimental as it could be seen as inappropriate if you aren’t a family member or close friend. The same applies for jokes or anything humorous.
If the card is going to a friend or family member then you should be more open with what you say. You can talk about how much you will miss the deceased, what a great person they were, perhaps retell a short story you remember fondly involving them. You will want your message to be positive in the way it talks of the dead, and should be somewhat upbeat rather than focusing on the suffering they are going through.
Offering support and an ear to listen when someone has suffered a bereavement is a kind gesture. It’s the sort of thing that should definitely be included in a sympathy card, providing the recipient is someone you know well.
Losing someone causes untold grief, but alongside that there are things like a funeral that need to be arranged and belongings sorted. This can be overwhelming for many when combined with the effects of grieving and still having to live your own life (job, children etc).
So when sending your sympathy message, if you can, offer to help in some way. Even something as simple as taking the children to school for them or helping with parts of the funeral will be greatly appreciated.
Alongside deciding what to write in a sympathy card there are often questions around the etiquette in sending one. When is the right time to send it? Am I too late? Should I include a gift? And many more.
Hopefully the following will clear up any doubts you have and show the best way to navigate those questions.
There isn’t any real set time frame for sending a sympathy card. The sooner the better, really. Sometimes that’s easier said than done though, especially if you only find out about the passing of someone a significant time after it has happened. So a few months would still be acceptable. But when possible, aim for sending it as quickly as you can
If you’re concerned you’re too late there is no harm in referencing it in your message – “I’m really very sorry for how late I am with this card”
It’s certainly not mandatory and you shouldn’t feel compelled to do so. In most cases a sympathy note or card will be more than enough.
However, if you wanted to send a bouquet of flowers that would, I’m sure, be very appreciated. Sending flowers to offer sympathy for a loss is very common so wouldn’t be an odd gesture. They often come with a small card or note that you could write your message of condolence on.
A sympathy card should be the priority. Whilst using Facebook to offer condolences is common now, it is very impersonal. Especially if you know and are close to the deceased or family. Where it may be more appropriate is if you didn’t know the deceased well. But a card will always be more thoughtful.
The decision regarding religion will come down to your own judgement. Only you know the recipient and their views towards religion. A very strong atheist is unlikely to appreciate any form of religious message. A devout Christian wouldn’t.
Generally most people won’t take offence to words like “you are in my prayers” but anything more than that may make some feel uncomfortable. The best thing to do is if you’re worried then avoid it, just to be on the safe side.
In the future it might be quite nice to send an anniversary card to mark the passing. The anniversary of a loved ones death may bring back those feelings of heartache and grief experienced originally. So receiving a card with more words of support and comfort on that anniversary can be very touching. But it will not be seen as rude to not do this. Just that it might be a nice gesture if you remember.
There are some phrases and words you should avoid when deciding on what to write in your sympathy messages. You may end up causing offence without meaning to.
Choosing how to sign a sympathy card will depend on what sort of message you have used and your relationship with the recipient.
The most common closing will be a simple, short few words. “Sincerely” or anything else formal might not be appropriate for a sympathy card.
If you’re close to the recipient, maybe a family member or good friend, then you can include they’re name in your closing or use the word “love” as well.
Whether you choose to write your own sympathy card messages or one of the examples provided here, as long as you speak from the heart and are genuine in what you say the exact words won’t matter. Just show you care and that you are there for the bereaved and they will appreciate the gesture.
We often find ourselves stuck for what to say when someone dies but writing a letter of condolence and sympathy can help bring comfort to the bereaved. Try and write a few simple words to show that you are thinking of them and that their loved one had a positive impact on the lives of others.
A sympathy letter should pay tribute to the life of the deceased and provide support to the bereaved when they need it most; they may even save the letter and read it again in years to come.
Writing the letter by hand is a lot more personal than if you were to type it or buy a sympathy card from a shop, though you may wish to buy a card and put the letter inside. The letter can be addressed to a single bereaved person or to the family as a whole.
You don’t have to write a long letter, as long as it is sincere. We all worry about saying the wrong thing and making the bereaved even more upset, but showing that you care in just a few simple words is better than saying nothing at all.
Put yourself in the shoes of the person who is grieving and think about what you would like to hear in the same situation. Whilst you cannot take away a person’s pain, they will take comfort knowing that you are thinking of them during such a difficult time.
Try not to dwell on how the person passed away. Instead, acknowledge the loss and express your condolences in a sincere and heartfelt manner.
Here are just a few examples:
Sharing a fond memory of the deceased may bring a few moments of happiness to the bereaved. They may find it helpful to hear new stories about their loved one and that they positively affected the lives of others.
If you are able and willing to offer your help and support in the coming weeks or months, you should include this in the letter. The person is much more likely to take you up on a specific offer of assistance, such as doing a weekly shop; but try not to make promises that you cannot keep.
When closing the letter, try and think of a few thoughtful words which show your affection and support for the bereaved.
Here are just a few examples:
I am writing on behalf of all [name’s] friends at [name of organisation] to express our sympathy at your sad loss. [Name] was a valued member of the team and contributed to the organisation in many ways. Besides being an excellent worker, [he or she] was always good-humoured and considerate towards [his or her] colleagues.
[He or she] often spoke of [his or her] family with affection. [Name] will be sadly missed by everyone at work. Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time.
I was sorry to hear of your recent bereavement. Although I did not know [name] well, on the occasions when we met, [he or she] was always kind and considerate. Please accept my sympathy for your sad loss.
I was very upset to hear of your loss. [Name] was such a lovely [child or person] and will be dreadfully missed. If there is anything [I or we] can do, [I am or we are] only a phone call away.
Although we have spoken recently, I wanted to write and tell you how sorry I am for your loss. [Name] was such a special person that no words are really adequate. [He or she] brought pleasure to everyone [he or she] met and will be sadly missed. People tell me how much they valued [name’s] friendship. I am always here to talk if you would like. I’ll get in touch soon to see if I can make myself useful in any way.
Please visit our Helpful organisations page if you would like further advice on how to help someone who has suffered a loss.
Attending a funeral
Appropriate and warm sympathy quotes, condolence quotes, words of sympathy, and helpful tips on what to write in a sympathy card. Write from the heart!.
First, address the family members who the card is being given to. (If you forget, the names are usually spelled correctly in the obituary, or you can call the funeral home or church to help with spelling.)
Inside the card, use the deceased person's name. You will not hurt the families' feelings by acknowledging what they are already feeling and talking about, and avoiding the obvious makes everyone feel uneasy. You are acknowledging a life now gone, there is no skirting around it. The bereaved know this and need it to be acknowledged and honored.
Write about a personal memory or a personality trait that made the person special and remarkable. This will help the bereaved connect to their loved one. Memories help. For instance, if you were a good friend to the woman 40 years ago, when you send a letter to her children, you will know something about their mother they may not remember or even know. It may be comforting to read that their mother used to be the life of the party, for example, or that she used to bake excellent chocolate chip cookies.
It is also comforting to know that the loved one will not be forgotten. Assure the bereaved that you will remember. For instance you can say, "I will always remember Mike's ability to help others out. Back in 2010, the winter in Michigan was brutal. It was Mike, your dad, who came out in the middle of the night to help me jump start my car. His goodness will not be forgotten."
If you've ever felt at a loss for words following someone's passing, you're Illustration depicting the do's and don'ts of writing sympathy cards.