Writing a sympathy card

Updated July 20, 2017

When someone -- a friend, relative or colleague passes away -- a well written sympathy card is a great way to express one's condolences. A sympathy card is brief, while providing heartfelt comfort for the person reading it. While it is difficult to express feelings in words, there are certain etiquette rules to be followed when writing a sympathy card. While these can be sent by e-mail, a handwritten sympathy card is still the accepted norm.

Buy a card that is sombre and in accordance with the receiver's religious beliefs. Write the message with black or blue ink.

Address the person who will be receiving the card as Mr. or Ms. This is when you knew the person who has passed away well, but not his or her family. If you know the family well, address the person by first name.

Express your condolences in few sentences. Normally three short sentences would do. If you knew the person well, express why you loved the person. If the person who died was a casual acquaintance, the message should be slightly more formal with sentences like "Please accept my heartfelt condolences."

Offer to help the grieving family, if it is possible. Offer to cook, mow or babysit children.

Do not write sentences like "time will heal all wounds" or " I know how you feel."

End the card with a phrase like "with deepest sympathy" or "thinking of you." Sign your name, if you're sending the card alone, or include everyone in your family.

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