Things to write in a condolence card

Updated March 18, 2017

Condolence cards can be one of the most difficult things to write. After all, significant loss can be one of the most devastating, heartbreaking and stressful experiences of a person's lifetime. When writing condolence cards, it is important to be sensitive and try to put yourself in the other person's shoes.


Try to imagine how the person suffering the loss is feeling right now. Use your condolence card to offer your sincerest comforts to that person. Tell her that she is in your thoughts and that you wish to offer support in any way that you can, whether it is simply to talk or to help out with errands in this difficult time. Be genuine in your writing and use words that are heartfelt and respectful, such as, "You and your family are in my thoughts. If you need any help, please do not hesitate to let me know, whether it's babysitting your children or grocery shopping for you."


If the condolence card is for a death, use it to briefly and fondly remember positive memories of the person who has died. If you knew the deceased individual as well, indicate how much he meant to you. Adding a personal anecdote to the card can even make the person reading the card smile amid all the grief. Write something like "Anne was a dear friend to me. I cherished our Saturday walks together in the park with our dogs."

Focus on the Positive

In situations of death, avoid rehashing details of the passing, whether it was due to a disease or a car accident. Lingering on the details can only serve to make the other person feel more distressed as this already tough time. Instead, focus on a memory of when the loved one was doing well. Consider writing something such as, "Anne had a strong demeanour and a heart of gold at the same time. She was one of the most respected teachers at her school."

Avoid Cliches

Stay away from clichés when writing condolence cards. These can often come across as tactless and insensitive. Some examples of clichés include "It was her time to go" or "I know how you feel." The other person might feel that the deceased individual was too young to die, or be upset that you are saying that you know how he feels, as all situations are different. Instead, make a statement such as "I have no words to convey how saddened I am to hear the news."

Other Condolence Card Etiquette

A handwritten note in a card or on your own stationery shows that you have taken care, energy and time in letting someone know how you feel about the other person's loss. Keep the messages in your condolence card as brief and concise as possible. Proofread your writing carefully before you send it. When you close a condolence card message, always indicate your full name. The other person is likely receiving a lot of sympathy cards, and you do not want to run the risk of being confused with another person.

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About the Author

Lars Tramilton has been writing professionally since 2007. His work has appeared in a variety of online publications, including CareerWorkstation. Tramilton received a bachelor's degree with a focus on elementary education from Kean University.