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How to send sympathy cards to family members

Updated January 13, 2017

A death in the family is a difficult time for everyone. You are not expected to send sympathy cards to people in your immediate family, such as parents, siblings and grandparents, as it's likely the deceased was someone who was close to all of you. But it is acceptable and encouraged to send sympathy cards to members of your extended family, such as aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws, who have experienced the loss of someone who may not be directly related to you. Examples would be a cousin whose sister-in-law has died or an aunt who is grieving the loss of a good friend.

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  1. Mail your sympathy card. Do not send an e-card, which is too impersonal for a grieving family member.

  2. Write a short note, including a memory of the deceased. If you did not know the deceased well, write a few words about how special that person was to your relative.

  3. Extend a helping hand. Offer to cook dinner, clean house or do anything else your grieving relative would appreciate.

  4. Send the card within two weeks of the death.

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