The loss of a loved one is a very emotional time for most people. What to say and do can be a very difficult morass to traverse. You never want to offend anyone so here are a few sympathy card do’s and don’ts.
- Send a sympathy card as soon as possible after hearing of a friend or colleague’s loss. Delaying will just make their grievance longer.
- Add a personal note such as “we are keeping you in our prayers” or “we are here if you need us”.
- Address the card to the person and their family. You can say John Smith and family or Mary, John, and the Smith family. Remember the whole family will be grieving and they will all appreciate your thoughtfulness.
- Don’t write I know how you feel. This can really sound condescending. You don’t know how they feel. Everyone deals with loss differently and you don’t want to convey the impression that their pain is felt the same by everyone, making it insignificant.
- Don’t send a typed note. Sympathy cards should always be personal. Expressing sympathy with a typed note appears cold and unfeeling.
- Remember if you feel uncomfortable writing something, it will come across wrong to the recipient.
Most importantly, you should keep in mind that a sympathy card should be a warm expression to help ease a person’s loss.
Sending sympathy cards is never one of those things we like to do. We want to acknowledge a person’s passing, but we don’t always know what to write. Often times we don’t know if we are making the recipient feel better or worse. It can be challenging to say the right thing, so I provided below 5 helpful tips for writing meaningful sympathy cards...
- Less is sometimes more. Try to keep the message brief especially if the greeting already expresses most of what you want to say. You might end with:
- I am so sorry for your loss
- We are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers
- Sending prayers and hugs
- Our sincere condolences
- Show appreciation. If you were familiar with the loved one, make it personal.
- What a wonderful lady your Mom was. I am so fortunate to have had her in my life.
- Celebrating the life of a great man and sharing in your mourning.
- Remembering your Dad and all the funny stories he would tell.
- If you are in a position to do so, you may add a note offering help. Try to be specific and follow up on your offer.
- Thinking of you at this difficult time. I’m here if you need a shoulder to lean on.
- I know this is a difficult time. I am thinking of you and am here to help with walking the dog, babysitting and running errands. Please let me know.
- I know things are hectic for you. I will call you to see what would be good night to drop off a meal.
- Close with a warm, graceful and respectful closing.
- With sympathy
- With warm thoughts and prayers
- With prayer and sympathy
- My heart goes out to you and your family
- What to avoid. Be sensitive and mindful.
- I know how you feel
- She is in a better place
- He was so young
- It was meant to be
If you are not sure what to say, it is best to keep it simple. Just sending a sympathy card will let the recipient know you care.