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WHAT TO WRITE IN A SYMPATHY CARD

Published: August 4, 2020

After hearing the news of someone’s death, many of us want to reach out with condolences, but we aren’t sure what to say. It is common to struggle with crafting a sentiment that both acknowledges the loss and provides comfort to the bereaved at such a sensitive time.

To help get you started, we have provided some examples below of what to write (and what not to write) in a sympathy card based on the feelings you are trying to convey.

What you want to express: Empathy.

What not to write:

  • I know how you feel.
  • I've lost a ___ too.
    Although comparing your own loss to that of a family member or friend may seem like a good idea, it can be perceived as making the situation about you. Each person and relationship is different, which means that how we deal with grief and loss will be different as well.
    What to write instead:
  • I’m grieving with you.
  • I miss ___ too.

What you want to express: I want to help.

What not to write:

  • Call me if you need anything.
    Offering help is well intentioned, but most grieving people struggle to reach out after losing someone close to them. Instead of making a statement, offer help that is specific to their needs.
     What to write instead: 
  •  Here is a gift certificate to (insert name of restaurant with delivery) near you. Please use this to order delivery on a day you just need to stay in. 
  • I’m going to go grocery shopping on ____, I’ll text you that morning for your list and I will be happy to pick it up for you.

What you want to express: Apology for missing the funeral.

What not to write:

  • I didn't make the funeral because ___.
     Stating the reason(s) why you could not be there may be perceived as an excuse by the bereaved. Focusing on the future and how you will support them going forward is a better approach.
     What to write instead: 
  •  I’m so sorry I couldn’t make it to the funeral. I’m bringing dinner for you on ___ if that works for you, and I would love to see you even for just a few moments. 
  • I’m so sorry I couldn’t be at the funeral. I’d like to come and visit [name’s] grave sometime soon. Would you like to go together?
    If you are still searching for the right message, read through the list of condolences below. You can use these phrases as they are, combine them or customize them to express your feelings. 
  •  [Name] was a wonderful person. My condolences to you and your family. 
  • We are so deeply sorry for your loss. 
  • Words cannot express the sorrow and sadness we feel at the loss of your [relationship to deceased], [name]. Please accept our condolences and know that we are thinking of you. 
  • No one can ever replace the amazing person that your ____ was. My thoughts are with you during this time.” 
  • I am so sorry to hear about the loss of [name]. As you mourn [him/her], please know that we are grieving with you while at the same time honoring [his/her] memory. 
  • I’ll always remember how [name] would [insert story or characteristic here]. 
  • I can’t express how much (name) meant to me over the years. He/She always brought so much light into the lives of those around him/her. My condolences to you and your wonderful family.” 
  • There are no words. Just know that I love you and will also miss [name]. 
  • May the memories of your [relationship] provide you with comfort during this difficult time. 
  • I often think about you and [name] when I [walk by your house, am at work, getting up in the morning, etc.]. I say a prayer each time. Just wanted you to know I am thinking of you and cherishing [name’s] memory.

Published with permission from FuneralMatters.com

 
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