How to write a personal sympathy card

Updated July 19, 2017

A sympathy card is commonly given to friends or family members experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one. Regardless of your relationship with the grieving person, it can be difficult to find the appropriate words to express your feelings. A sympathy card is generally appreciated by the recipient, and it can assure her that others are thinking of her during a difficult time. When writing a personal sympathy card to a close relative or family member, follow general guidelines to ensure that your feelings are properly articulated.

Be empathetic and sensitive when deciding what to write on the sympathy card. Think about what you would want to read if you were in a similar situation. The website Write Express warns against offering advice with comments such as “It’s all for the best,” or “You need a vacation.” Avoid using clichés such as “Time heals all wounds,” or “Everyone has his time.” Instead use words that show your understanding and that let the mourner know that you are there if needed.

Share personal memories of the deceased, including what she meant to you or how she touched your life. Memories can help the family heal, and let them know that they are not alone in grieving. Family members generally like to hear how the deceased positively affected others. Consider using phrases such as “a contagious sense of humour” or “very generous” to describe your memories of the person.

Include a quote that describes your memory of the person, or that may be comforting to the close family members. A quote located on the website reads: “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal.”

Include a conclusion or expression of comfort before signing your name at the bottom of the card. The closure is a replacement for the traditional, “Sincerely,” and should reflect your feelings. recommends using a closure such as “We are thinking of you during this difficult time,” or “As you grieve, know that we are remembering you and honouring the memory of [insert name of deceased].”

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About the Author

Shelley Gray has been writing since 2005, with work appearing in the "Interlake Spectator" newspaper and "Manitoba Reading Association Journal." She has been an early years teacher since 2005 and is passionate about education and educational pedagogy. Gray has a Bachelor of Arts in history and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada.