How to write a response to a sympathy card

Written by kimberly a. smith
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How to write a response to a sympathy card
It's not expected that you respond to sympathy cards, but responses are appreciated. (thank you image by feisty from

During times of grief, many people send sympathy cards, flowers and food items. Responding to these gestures can seem overwhelming if you have just suffered a loss. However, writing a response to a sympathy card should not be a time consuming project. Though it is not considered mandatory to send a thank you note to someone who just sent a card, writing a response to a message that touched you can be a thoughtful gesture and a healing opportunity.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Purchase a box of simple stationery or thank you cards. Choose a small paper or card so you do not feel obligated to write very much.

  2. 2

    Make a list of the sympathy cards and other gestures that you want to respond to with a thank you note. Having this "to do" list helps you check off names as you finish and stay focused on the task.

  3. 3

    Keep your message simple. A short message thanking them for their sympathy card, flowers, food or donation is all that is needed. If the thank you is for a close friend or relative you may want to share more, but it is not expected.

  4. 4

    Enlist the help of a friend or relative if you are having trouble getting through the cards. If you have lost a parent, spouse or child, it may be difficult to sit down and write all these cards. It is completely appropriate to have someone assist you.

  5. 5

    Skip writing responses to people who sent only pre-printed sympathy cards. If there is no personal message, you are not under an obligation to respond with a card. You may consider mentioning a thank-you the next time you see the person.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not worry about sending the cards out immediately. If you need some time before writing them, that is fine.

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