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What to Put in a Sympathy Card

Updated April 17, 2017

When someone passes away, we want to remember that person and support the ones left behind. When written with care, a sympathy card can be a very good way to respond to a loss. Take a few minutes to plan out what you would like to write inside your card.

Remembering

Think about the person who has passed. If you knew the person very well, this part may even help you deal with your own feelings of loss. What made the person special? Be specific. For example, instead of saying, "Ben was a nice guy" say, "I will never forget the time Ben offered to let me sit with him when I didn't know anyone."

Simple, specific stories expressig how special the person who has died was mean much more than general adjectives. This is also an opportunity for the person's loved ones to hear stories or memories that they may have never heard.

If you don't have any memories of the person, or you didn't know them at all that's OK. Only include memories that you feel sincerely about, if you don't have any then just express your support and love.

Expressing Love

Keep the individual you are writing to in mind when you write a sympathy card. Is the person religious? If not, you probably don't want to make too many references to your own faith. A loss is not the time to push a certain religious belief on someone.

Also, never say, "God has a plan," "everything happens for a reason," or other phrases that imply the death was "meant to be." A person who has just suffered such a loss does not want to hear that they were meant to suffer.

Do not apologise for the death. You did not cause it and this generally makes the person reading "I'm sorry" over and over again feel weird instead of supported.

What you should say is very simple. Say "I love you" or "I care a lot about you." You can also reinforce that if the person needs to talk or needs a hug you are a phone call away. Tell the person you care and that you will be there for them.

Remember to continue showing your support. Getting over a death is not like getting over the flu, there is no time limit on this type of pain. A person who has lost a loved one may have a hard day long after the loss. Holidays, birthdays, or other less specific triggers can be difficult for a person who is grieving a loss. Make sure that you continue to show your support long after the funeral.

A sympathy card can be a great way to let a person know that they are not alone during a difficult time in life.

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About the Author

After graduating from Millersville University with a B.A. in journalism, Annmarie Ely began working as a professional writer. Ely has also worked at a wellness center where she taught programs on topics including healthy relationships, self-esteem and body image.