Sympathy cards are always difficult to write, but a card can provide comfort to those who have suffered a loss. With a little guidance, you can write a heartfelt bereavement card that expresses your feelings and follows proper funeral etiquette. A hasty or callous comment on a card will only add to the grief that family and friends are coping with. A few carefully chosen words and a thoughtful bouquet of flowers provides reassurance that they have a network of support.
Decide how formal you want your card to be. There are three main types: formal, religious and personal.
Pick an expression that fits your level of formality. Some common, thoughtful expressions are:
Formal expressions: Please accept our sympathy for your loss. With deepest sympathy, we offer our condolences to you.
Religious expressions: Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. We are filled with sorrow for your loss and are praying that the Lord would provide you peace and comfort. May the Lord be merciful and comforting to you during this time or sorrow.
Personal expressions: I am so sorry for your loss. Know that you are not alone. I am so sad for you. Please know that I care for you and am here to support you. I am praying for you and your family daily. Please know that I am willing to help and comfort you however I can. I miss her, too. You are not alone.
Carefully write in a blue or black pen your expression on the inside of the card. Be sure to write on the lower half of the card if the enclosure folds over.
Slide the enclosure card into the envelope.
Write the recipient's name on the outside of the card. If the expression is formal, use a formal name such as Mrs. Henry David Smith or Mr. Marvin John Taylor.
Your expression of bereavement should come across as personal and thoughtful. Do not type the funeral card. If you are out of town, follow up your flowers with a personal card expressing your sympathy. Do not use a card from the florist. Use an enclosure card or greeting card that is appropriate for the situation. Once again, if you are out of town, follow up with a phone call or personal card. Deliver the flowers personally if possible. While it might be inconvenient, it will be more encouraging for the person who is grieving.
Things not to say include: "I know how you feel." Even if you have experienced loss, refrain from this expression. Every situation is different and each individual grieves differently. "It will be OK." While this is true, it is callous to the recipient's grief. "There is a reason for everything." While this may be true, hold this sentiment for a more appropriate point in the grieving process. Saying this too soon will make the recipient feel isolated and confused.