Guidelines for Addressing your Sympathy Cards

Following the death of a friend or of someone with whom your colleague is close, it is proper etiquette to send a sympathy card, but addressing your card may be a cause for confusion. How and to whom you should address your sympathy cards can be a real dilemma, especially since your intention isn't to offend anyone. Here are a few simple rules to help guide you:

  1. To whom you address your sympathy card is the first obstacle. If you are writing the card to a friend, you may address it to your friend and their spouse or your friend and their family as in: John and Mary Smith or Mary Smith and family. If you are sending a sympathy card to a colleague you could say: Ralph Jones and family. Perhaps it is your colleague who has passed and you are unfamiliar with the person's family; the appropriate address would be: The family of Ralph Jones.

  2. The second guideline pertains to the actual writing of a sympathy card, which should be done in blue or black ink and never typed. Even if you chose to have your cards personalized, a handwritten note in addition to imprint is strongly suggested to add that personal warmth. Expressing your condolences in your own handwriting will show that you thought enough of your friend or colleague to take the time to write personally. If you do not know who you are addressing the card to personally (i.e. The family of Ralph Jones), then you can make a general comment of sympathy or offer of assistance to the family.

As you can see, correctly addressing your sympathy cards doesn't have to be a difficult process. Knowing the proper etiquette of how to address your card based upon who will be receiving it makes it much easier to send your condolences, which will absolutely be appreciated by the recipient. In times of grief it is always good to know that people are thinking of you, be it friends, family or business associates. You can feel confident that you are not only doing the right thing, but you are doing it the right way.

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