What To Write In A Sympathy Card?

Sympathy Card by Woodmansterne

It is often hard to find the right words when writing a message of condolence. You want to give comfort through words to someone going through a terrible moment and maybe you can’t quite find the words or are worried about saying the wrong thing. But, no matter how hard it might be, it is important to reach out to those you love and care about with a message of sympathy. Often there is not much that can be said that will really address the pain and suffering of those in mourning, but your message of love and support may help them and provide some comfort.

There are no hard and fast rules, but we have put together some guidelines to help you select and write your heartfelt sympathy card.


Pick a simple card, it doesn’t have to be one with a message of sympathy on the front, an empathy card with a nice picture or art will work, but ideally it is blank in the inside so that you can write your own heart felt condolences.

Have some scrap paper ready to write a few short drafts so that when you come to writing on the card you are happy with your message and you are comfortable with the words you have used. This will also give you a chance to check your spelling, particularly of any names and will also ensure that you say everything you want to.

Give yourself plenty of time to consider your message and also to write it, rushing can lead to mistakes.


If you know the deceased, then address your condolences to the closest living relative such as their wife/husband or eldest child. If you do not know the deceased but your friend or relative was a close friend or relative of them, then address your condolences to them. If it is your friend that has lost a parent, then write to your friend. Feel free to add “and family” where appropriate.

If you are going to post the sympathy card, then address the envelope using titles and full names, making sure you have the correct address and the correct postage paid (most cards will tell you on the back Letter or Large Letter). If you are unsure about the post code or how much postage is required then visit your local Post Office who will be delighted to assist you. Write your return address on the rear of the envelope so that the recipient can reply should they want to.


Writing a personal sympathy message is not easy, we all worry about writing the wrong thing. We certainly don’t have all the answers, however we have put together some suggestions and pointers that might help you gather your thoughts and find something comforting to write. If you purchase an Empathy Card with us then we can write the message for you and send direct if you prefer.

For whatever the reason, you may wish to keep your personal sympathy message short. You can certainly be brief and still send thoughtful and heartfelt messages that come across warm and caring.

  • We are so sorry for your loss
  • Thinking of you all as you celebrate your Papa’s incredible life
  • Albert will live in our memories forever. With heartfelt sympathy
  • May you be comforted by the outpouring of love surrounding you

If you knew the deceased, mentioning how they positively touched your life is a lovely personal way to send your sympathies. Anecdotes, funny or sentimental, if kept brief, display how the deceased will be remembered and can be very comforting for the recipient.

  • Your father touched so many lives with his kindness. I am so happy to have known him and to have shared such wonderful times with him. He remains a cherished friend and will live long in my memory
  • We are sorry for your loss. Brian was such a lovely person and led a remarkable life. I feel so lucky that I got to know him
  • Sarah brought so much joy to our lives. We will never forget her
  • I am sorry to hear of your mothers passing. I will always remember her as a loving, kind and generous woman. She will be dearly missed

Religious Messages

Where you, the recipient, or the deceased have discussed or share a faith or belief then it may be appropriate to include a religious message or verse. If you are unsure or where only you or they have a belief system then this should be avoided as it may upset or offend the recipient.

Sympathy Closing

There are many ways you may want to sign your condolence, and these will depend somewhat on the tone and content of the message you have written. Consider avoiding “Regards” or “Sincerely” as these are quite distant. A few suggested closings:

  • With Sympathy
  • Warmest Condolences
  • In our thoughts
  • My deepest sympathy
  • With loving thoughts

What Not To Write

There are no strict rules on what you can or cannot say in a message of condolence and using your own judgement of what is appropriate will always keep you in good steading. However, there are some things that we think should be avoided because the last thing you want to do is further upset the recipient or belittle their feelings.

  • Don’t say you know how they feel, this makes the message about you and undermines their grief
  • Do not discuss the circumstances of the death
  • Try not to offer advice, no matter how good you think it is
  • Avoid telling the recipient how they should feel
  • Don’t offer a follow up you cannot deliver. It is hard enough for someone in grief to ask for something, so don’t offer something you cannot follow through on
  • Avoid telling an inappropriate anecdote. Remembrance is great, but tact is pertinent