What to write in a sympathy card


Bereaved people really do appreciate messages of support

Don’t feel that it’s necessary to write a long message. The fact that you are sending a sympathy card will be appreciated. Grief can be overwhelming and isolating. It can mean so much to feel that there are people out there that care.

You could start by saying something like:

I was deeply saddened to hear the news about Mary.

You could then express your condolences:

Please accept my heartfelt sympathy for the loss of your father

Our thoughts are with you and your family during this very difficult time

Our hearts go out to you in your time of sorrow

If you have a nice memory to share, it can let the family know something they might not know about their loved one.

I always remember how John was so thoughtful and never failed to greet me on the road.

Mary spent her life helping so many people. I am grateful to have known her.

I’ll never forget how John could make me laugh so hard. He could tell a great story

It can also be comforting to the family if you can offer help.

If there is anything that I can do to help I would love to … babysit, mind your pets, bring over a meal, come over for a chat

Here are some phrases that can be used to end the card.

With deepest sympathy

With heartfelt condolences

He/She will never be forgotten

Thinking of you

Heartfelt sympathy

Here are some phrases you shouldn’t use

After suffering the loss of a loved one, people can feel very vulnerable and become more sensitive to the use of language. Here are some phrases that can cause hurt or upset for some bereaved people.

I know how you feel.

You will get over this in time.

Time heals all wounds.

It was his/her time to go.

It was for the best.

They lived a full life.

It is not appropriate to mention any arguments that you and the deceased might have had while they were alive. Or to bring up old grudges that you might hold.

Don’t let guilt cloud your message. Remember it is about the grieving, not about you. Don’t try to explain why you have not called or visited them.

Please don’t dwell on details of the person’s death. That can be very upsetting and they don’t need to be reminded about what happened.


Don’t forget that the grieving process doesn’t stop. You might want to follow up with a call or a visit after some time has passed. Maybe make a note in your calendar so that you can remember to be there to support them on the anniversary of the death when they might be feeling very low and sad.


what to say in a sympathy card

what to say in a sympathy card