Sympathy Etiquette Guidelines on Timeframe for Sending Condolence Cards

While proper etiquette dictates that sympathy cards are ideally sent within two weeks after a death, it is never too late to send someone a sympathy card or note to express your heartfelt feelings of condolence for their loss. There can be many reasons for sending condolence cards late. Whether you heard about the person's passing a few months or even a year after their death, or you put off sending a sympathy card because you just didn't know what to say; know that your card or letter of sympathy will be appreciated no matter when it is received.

Some may feel uncomfortable sending sympathy cards months after the person has passed away, afraid that they are “reminding” the recipient of their loss. A person who is grieving does not need to be reminded of their loss; they live with it every day. Often those that are grieving the loss of a loved one may feel that they are alone in their grief. They may feel that life is moving forward for those around them while they are still dealing with the pain of loss. Your card may very well be cherished all the more because it could come at a time when they are in need of the comfort and understanding they may no longer be receiving. Your recipient will appreciate knowing that others are also thinking of their loved one and are empathetic to their loss.

Don't worry about explaining why it took you some time to send a card. A sympathy card is for the recipient to know of your sadness over the passing of a loved one; it is for the recipient to know that you care. The only thing you need to express is your sympathy, which is a thought that will be both welcomed and appreciated.

So don't be afraid to send condolence cards if some time has passed since a funeral or memorial service. When people are grieving a card is a reminder that they are not alone, that they are still cared for by others. A card can make all the difference in the world.

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