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What to Write: Sympathy & Condolence Cards

Posted by Courtney Love on

Greeting cards most often bring about thoughts of celebration. Wishing happy birthday, sending congratulations, or even just to say "I'm thinking of you!" Unfortunately, not all greeting cards are cause for celebration. One particular type may be a bit more difficult to write than others: sympathy and condolence cards. Expressing your feelings and finding the right words can be an emotional process and we may end up saying nothing at all due to feeling overwhelmed. However, sending a thoughtful letter expressing your sorrow can be a demonstration of respect for the deceased and can bring great solace to the bereaved.  Here are a few tips and examples to consider when composing your letter. Keep it simple. In times of loss or grief, the mourner may be overwhelmed with a long list of things to do or people to see and may not have the time or energy to read and respond to a lengthy letter. Words cannot heal wounds, but taking the time to send a short and sincere message will mean a lot to the recipient. And, of course, don't forget to keep the focus on them. Here are a few examples:
  • I/We are so deeply saddened by the passing of (name). My/Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
  • Your loss is unfathomable, and I offer you my deepest sympathy. I will remember (name) with the fondest of memories and keep him/her close to my heart.
  • Someone as special as (name) will never be forgotten. Please know I am praying for your peace and comfort during this sorrowful time.
  • May memories of (name) and the love of family surround you and give you strength in the days ahead.
Be specific. Sending a sympathy message that includes mention of a fond memory of the deceased is a wonderful way to highlight how he or she affected the lives of people around him or her. It doesn't even need to be a specific event, you can simply mention a particular quality or personality trait that you most admired or enjoyed. It provides a precious keepsake for the bereaved to look back on for years to come. For example:
  • (Name) was one of the best golfers I had ever met. His/her dedication to the sport was unmatched and I was honored to have played along side him/her. They will be truly missed.
  • I will always remember how your mom/dad made us smile. He/she was always ready with a funny story or joke. I will remember them with the fondest of memories.
  • (Name) will be greatly missed but his/her warmth, kindness, and gentle spirit will be remembered forever.
Offer assistance (if possible). If you would like to offer some help, don't be afraid to offer. There is often so much to do after the passing of a loved one that making something as simple as dinner can prove to be a difficult task. Mention specific ways you would be available to help. Here are some suggestions:
  • In this stressful time, please let me know if I can help in any way. I would love to... (make a meal for your family, baby sit your children, house sit, dog/cat sit, mow your lawn, etc.)
  • Though I cannot take the pain away I want you to know that in me you have a shoulder to lean on and an ear for listening. I may be far away but never hesitate to call me if you need.
In closing...  Let your friend or family member know that you’re thinking and/or praying for them. If your recipient is religious, it might be nice to include a short prayer or excerpt from The Bible; however if they are not religious, include something along the lines of “My heart and thoughts go out to you during this difficult time.” Here are some other ways to finish your letter.
  • With deepest sympathy,
  • Our heartfelt condolences,
  • With caring thoughts and loving memories,

Don't forget! The stationery you use is just as important as the message itself. You want to choose a card that is respectful, appropriate, and unique. If you're looking for something that is a special as the person you're honoring, check out Lovepop's collection of stunning pop-up cards. They might make a wonderful keepsake for the recipient and their family.


Paper pop up card, willow tree, green


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