How to Write a Personal Sympathy Card

Category: General Tips

Have you heard the unfortunate news of the passing away of a clientclose friend or someone’s relative? It’s never enough to send a Facebook message, email, or text message condoling with your mourning friend. Consider writing a personal sympathy card to show you care for them and are deeply concerned.

Finding words to show your condolences is never easy. We understand it can be difficult penning down your thoughts during such a period of grieving. Therefore, here’s a guide on how to write a personal sympathy card.

Is a Sympathy Message Necessary?

Writing a message expressing sympathy to a bereaved person, be it a family member, close friend, or beloved pet they’ve lost, can be a most challenging task.

However, when it calls for you to write a sympathy letter, you have to rise to the task and show your care and love for your grieving friend. It’s the right thing to do, and it comforts a grieving person.

Bear in mind that during such times, the person you’re writing to is not evaluating your writing technique or style. The sole purpose of the card is to show your heartfelt condolence to the person on the receiving end, and that’s what should be foremost in your mind when writing it.

Once you receive the sad news, move with speed. Take time to write a condolence message and send it right away. The sooner you write a personal sympathy card, the better because you’ll have cleared the stress of procrastinating about it.

Steps on How to Write a Sympathy Card

A sympathy note carries more weight and personal feelings, and the recipient will feel your love and concern even more.  They will be grateful for the effort and time you’ve put into writing a message.

Below are steps and tips on how you can write a good personal sympathy card.

1. Begin with an Appropriate Salutation

The most common way to start a sympathy card note is by saluting the receiver with the word “dear”. You can also write “dearest” or simply begin with the recipient’s name. It’s not advisable to start with “hi” or any other form of casual salutation. Instead, be a little bit formal.

In addition, it’s good to:

  • Address the recipient as you usually do. If you’re writing to a doctor who you typically call “Dr. James”, use the same name on the card. If the person to whom you’re writing is well known to you, addressing the person by their first name is okay.
  • If you intend to express your sympathy to a whole family, rather than a single person, we recommend you write the names of them all. If their names are not known to you, you could address them as, for example, “Purity and family”.

2. Express How Sorry You Are About the Person’s Passing

Make it known to the receiver on the other end how sorry you are to learn of the passing away of the deceased.

If you know the person well, mention their name. On the other hand, if you didn’t know the deceased well, refer to them as “your wife” or “your father”.  For example, “I’m sorry to learn of Sylvia’s passing after her long battle with diabetes” or “No words can express how grieved I am that your son is no more”.

3. Keep It Brief If You Don’t Know the Person Well

There’s nothing wrong with ending your card after a brief expression of your sympathy if the recipient is someone you don’t know well. In fact, this is what we recommend, and it’s quite appropriate.

Adding a conventional phrase that’s impossible to misconstrue is highly acceptable. For example, you can write something like, “kindly accept my sincere condolences” or “my thoughts are with you in sympathy“, if you plan on keeping the sympathy card note short.

If the sympathy card you’re writing has an already printed message or poem inside it, being brief is even more suitable.

Other short sentiments you can express in your sympathy include:

  • I am thinking of you.
  • You are in our thoughts.
  • Sam will always be in my thoughts.
  • My thoughts and prayers are with you.
  • We honor (the deceased’s) memory during these moments of sorrow.
  • I’m praying for you during this difficult time.

4. Share Your Memories of the Deceased If You Knew Them Well

Did you know the deceased on a personal level? If so, it would be appropriate to express how much you’ll miss them and the times you spent together.

Sharing a few things you remember that you may have done together is ideal. In so doing, you’ll show that you’re sharing the grief with the recipient. They will feel they’re not alone during this difficult grieving period. 

5. Offer Your Assistance or Help

A few words inviting the person to whom you’re writing to reach out if they need anything is kind. In fact, they will probably welcome your assistance with a lot of gratitude. If the person reaches out for help, be ready to follow up and lend a hand.

6. Conclude Your Sympathy Card Note with an Appropriate Closing

If you’re close with the person you’re writing to, you may consider writing “Love“, followed by signing your name.

Alternatively, if such closing is not appropriate for your sympathy card recipient, choose one that expresses your relationship with the person and your feelings in the best way possible.

Examples of closings include:

  • With love
  • With caring thoughts
  • My sincere sympathy
  • With heartfelt condolences
  • With loving memories
  • Our deepest sympathy

How to Express Your Sympathy to a Beloved Pet

If a person has lost their pet, you want to share in their grief too. It may not be  possible to share memories of the pet. However, try to recall a few details about the pet and include them in your card. Express how sorry you are for the person’s loss of their pet.

Here’s an example of a heartfelt message acknowledging the death of a loved one’s pet:

Dear Mike,

I learned of the passing away of Tommy with great sadness. I remember how he played with us when we went for a walk to the park six years ago. Indeed, he was a great companion. Our hikes and walks will never be the same without him walking alongside you. I’m so sorry for your loss.

You’re in my thoughts,

Joe

What to Avoid Writing in a Personal Sympathy Card

While we’re not saying a sympathy message should be perfect, some statements are not appropriate. These include:

  • I can tell how you’re feeling.
  • It happened for a reason/ God has done his will.
  • “Jonathan” was so young
  • Your pain will fade away soon         
  • Someone will fill the gap someday/ you can overcome this/ you are a young person.

True as it may be, such things are painful for bereaved siblings, parents, or partners to hear at this time. They may not be ready to face it. Additionally, no matter how sincere your intentions, trying to show someone the brighter side of things after such a devastating loss comes across as unkind.

Sympathy Card Etiquette

There’s an etiquette you must follow when writing and sending a personal sympathy card. Some of the things to pay attention to include:

  • Ensure you send a card and never an email. Avoid social media or text messages to express your condolences, rather simply send a heartfelt card.
  • Flowers are not enough. Accompany them with a sympathy card that has sufficient space to express your message.
  • Sending a sympathy card immediately you hear about the death is highly commendable. However, even if you come to learn about it weeks, months, or even years later, sending a card is appropriate. It may look awkward, but it shows the person that you care about them. It’s better late than never.
  • If you don’t share the same beliefs with the person, avoid including excessive religious content. However, if both of you have common religious beliefs, you may take that into account when writing the card.
  • Worry less about saying the wrong thing. Your focus should be on expressing your condolences most sweetly and sincerely. In fact, the act of sending the card in itself is enough expression that your thoughts are with the recipient.

Final Word

The main aim of a  personal sympathy card is to comfort the bereaved and let them know that your thoughts are with them. It’s a show of empathy, concern, and support.

After you have drafted a message, let it sink in you for a while before you can write the final note as neatly as you can on a sympathy card. When you’re ready, send it to the person and let them know you’re thinking about them.

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