CondolencesEtiquetteWhat to Say in a Sympathy Card

January 24, 2020Obitia

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Writing a sympathy card to a family member or friend can be difficult. Finding the right tone, while expressing your sympathy and trying to be heartfelt can be a balancing act. By following these simple rules you can make sure that you express your condolences in the right tone.


Use a Proper Salutation

Use the salutation “Dear” and the way you would normally address the person if you are unsure use Mr., Mrs., or Ms. and the last name of the recipient. Refrain from using “Hi” or “Hello” as they do not convey the gravity of the situation. If the card is meant to express sympathy to an entire family then write everyone’s name or “The Smith Family.”


Write For Your Audience

As with so many things, such as dressing for a funeral you should always keep your audience in mind and adhere to what the family of the deceased would wish. When it comes to sympathy cards, remember to write for your audience. If you think the individual receiving your sympathy card would appreciate humor you should feel free to write the message that will speak from your heart and convey your message.


Be Concise

The family of the deceased will likely receive a number of sympathy cards. They may not have the time or be in the emotional state to read a long message. Unless you feel confident that the telling of a story or shared memory will be appropriate (think about the above rule), you should keep your condolences messages short and straightforward.


Use a Poem or Bible Verse if you are Unable to Express Your Feelings

Many times it may be too difficult to express a message of loss in a sympathy note in your own words. This is very common and should not deter you from writing a heartfelt sympathy message. Poems, Bible verses, and literature have all traditionally been sources for expressing sorrow and sympathy with the grieving. Please browse our articles on readings and verses for examples that are appropriate to grieving and funerals. You may also wish to use a grief quote or sympathy quote, there are a number of very appropriate and heartfelt ways to express your feelings.


Try Not to Express Your Own Grief

You should refrain from expressing your own grief. That is not to say that you should not express feelings when writing a sympathy card message. However, because you are writing to someone who is grieving you should not make the message about your own feelings. Expressing your own grief will detract from your message and will not give as much comfort to the recipient.


Offer Assistance or Help

Depending on your relationship and circumstances you may want to offer help or assistance. For many families, the death of a loved one means a number of tasks that need to be accomplished in a relatively short amount of time all while they grieve and carry on their own lives. Whether you are helping to organize and collect the deceased’s valuables or helping to organize the funeral, help is usually appreciated by all.


How to Sign a Sympathy Card

There are many ways to sign a sympathy card, however, you should make sure it comes across as heartfelt and sympathetic rather than how everyday email is signed. Here are some examples of ways to sign a sympathy card:

  • With sympathy,
  • Warmest condolences,
  • Wishing you peace,
  • Thinking of you [and your family],
  • Keeping you in our prayers,
  • You are in our thoughts and prayers,
  • With caring thoughts,
  • With deepest sympathy,
  • with loving memories,


Sending Sympathy Flowers

Sympathy flowers are meant to be displayed in a home and remind the recipients that you are thinking about them. When sending sympathy flowers they should be addressed to and sent to the family home of the person who is grieving. While flowers are a traditional choice, live plants are becoming popular as they live much longer and have less of an impact on the environment.

Consider sending flowers to the home of those grieving after all the services have ended to let them know you are still thinking of them. This small gesture will be highly appreciated by those still mourning. To learn more about the etiquette of sending sympathy flowers please read our article “Guide to Sending Funeral Flowers: Types and Tips“. You will learn about the different types of floral arrangements and the meaning of different funeral flowers amongst other useful information.


Sympathy Card Examples


Sympathy Message Example 1

Please accept my deepest condolences for the loss of [the deceased]. [the deceased] was an amazing person whose memory will be cherished. You have our thoughts and prayers.

With sympathy,



Sympathy Message Example 2

Please accept our deepest sympathy for the loss of your father [or other relation]. I hope this quote/saying/Bible verse will bring you comfort during this time of sorrow. [Appropriate saying/poem/Bible verse here]. You have our thoughts and prayers.

Wishing you peace and comfort,





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