When communicating a notice of condolence to an individual who has recently suffered the loss of a cherished family member or friend, there are a number of well worn utterances that you should make every effort to refrain from using. A great many people find it very difficult to deal with or think about death, and they struggle to find an appropriate message to convey to those closest to the newly deceased. While you may have the most noble intentions in your attempts to express your most sincere sympathies and heartfelt compassion, if you are not careful you run the risk of the condolence card phrases you choose coming across as crass or injuring the feelings of those closest to the departed. For sympathy card protocol, if you are unsure as to what to say, a simple "I'm so sorry for the loss of ______" is probably the most advisable choice of words.
There are some wonderful bereavement cards which feature poetry, Biblical verses, or some other beautiful condolence message which express your sympathy in such a way that all that is really needed is your signature. But if you choose to add your own personal sentiments to the card (and it is generally best to do so), keep things simple and be sure to avoid comments or sympathy phrases such as:
There is really no message you can come up with that can remove the pain of a devastating loss, but in regards to the etiquette of addressing a sympathy card, a heartfelt and thoughtful message of condolence to the bereaved will provide support to help the individual through a sorrowful time and leave a lasting impression.