Expressing sympathy when a friend or a colleague has lost a loved one seems to be difficult for many people. What should I say? Should I go to the service? If I go to the wake how long should I stay?  What is the appropriate time frame to send a sympathy card? It is easy to be caught up in an internal struggle of how we should act on these occasions. We can give advice to others on all these questions but the simplest answer is, do what feels right. The simple fact that you care will be comforting to anyone.

The time frame for sending a sympathy card should be dictated by when you found out about the person’s loss. If you heard right away, say when a colleague at work is out for a death in the family, the appropriate time would be within one to two weeks. Your colleague will be most likely be back to work in that time and you don’t want the card to appear to be an afterthought as if you finally could find the time to write the card out. When you decide to send a card you should send it as close as possible to the time of loss so the person can feel this is a genuine expression of sympathy. It is also appropriate to bring a card if you are attending the wake, however, sending it a few days later is considered a good time frame.

The only time sending a sympathy card after the two week period, would be if you had just found out about the person’s loss. Sometimes we have friends who live a distance away and you may not have found out until several weeks or months later. It is then appropriate to send a sympathy card with a personal note saying you have just heard about their loss.

Many times we just don’t want to do the wrong thing and so we do nothing. It is always better to take a positive step to sincerely express your compassion and concern.  People will accept any attempt a friend takes to comfort them with an open heart. Taking the step is what is most appreciated.

Sympathy Cards and Treasured Thoughts

Sending sympathy cards is not the most pleasant task, as we all know. It is however, a part of life. Our logical minds tell us that but our hearts aren’t as easily convinced. Just conveying condolences can be stressful. We are never quite sure what to say. We don’t want to upset anyone. If you are like me, just the thought can bring on the waterworks. What if we send the wrong type of card or say the wrong thing? Sometimes this means we may do nothing at all.

As one that has been on both ends as a sender and a receiver, way too many times I might add, I can vouch for the value of sympathy cards. After losing my daughter several years ago I received many, many sympathy cards. Every single one was so greatly appreciated. I placed all of them in a plastic container. Once in awhile, I would pull them out and read them. It was so comforting to read all of the kind words. Some were just simply signed, while others had handwritten notes. It didn’t matter. Each one was a great source of comfort. I still have that little plastic container with the cards.

At work corporate sympathy cards come into play. Over the last few years I have lost a few more family members. Each time I was sent a sympathy card be my employer, as well as my co-workers. These too were treasured more than words could ever say.

Whether you’re a business or sending out personally, consider keeping a supply of sympathy cards on hand. Choose a couple or order an assortment box of cards. Include a few words if you like or just sign your name. It doesn’t matter if it is simply signed or includes words of remembrance. The receiver will be eternally grateful.