If you need some help with what to write in your sympathy card but prefer to use your own instead of using one of the ones provided here, then we’ve put together some tips on making it sound just right.
The first thing to do is not to worry. It can seem daunting and you’re no doubt experiencing fear about offending whoever you are writing to. Try not to think about that, and remember that if you are genuine with what you say it will come across that way. People appreciate the effort and thought that goes into even the smallest gesture, and whilst you may never be able to find the perfect words to express what you feel, they will treasure you’re attempts.
But that may not have helped you in the way you want, so here are some of the main tips and pointers when writing a sympathy card message:
Who is the message for?
This is key to finding the correct words and making it sound appropriate. Obviously if you don’t know the person you are sending a message to very well then you are going to struggle with the correct words. Is it a relative, friend or work colleague? Do you consider yourself very close to them or are they more of an acquaintance?
If the person you are writing for is a colleague or acquaintance then it is best to keep it short and simple, without too much emotion. A basic condolence is likely to be more than enough – keep it formal. Absolutely avoid any humor! Not appropriate at all.
If the message is for friends then you can allow yourself to be more personal and emotional. You will always want to speak highly of the deceased, as it will comfort them more. Showing you care and are thinking of them during their tough time will be appreciated. You may even want to think about sharing an experience you had with them, or something that you remember specifically. Make sure you convey how much you will miss them.
If you know the person well then you can offer some form of help. They may need some childcare or aid with the funeral arrangements. If you know them well then you will already be aware of the situation and what help they might require, but if you feel it is appropriate then feel free to include it in your message. However, if you do so, don’t just leave it at that. Make sure you follow it up after promising something.
What NOT to say?
There are some things that you will definitely want to avoid saying:
- Try to avoid using the phrases “it’s for the best” or “I/we know how you feel”, as these will likely anger or annoy the recipient. You have to remember that they are the only one’s who know how they feel, and they may not have felt it was “for the best”.
- Don’t compare losses. Each is indiviudal, and whilst you may feel you are offering them comfort by showing how you’ve experienced something similar, it may not go down well with them.
- Don’t use the phrase “they lived a full life”. Even though they may have, it will always be too short and full enough for the person who has lost them.
- Definitely do not say that it was the right time for them to have passed! Avoid this at all costs.
Other Things to Avoid
- Don’t send a text, tweet or Facebook message! Always send an actual card, and try to make the effort to write it by hand. Printing it out will make it seem less personal.
- Don’t promise to help or do something that you know you won’t be able to deliver on. It may be tempting to offer some help but if you are not in the position to see it through and actually fulfill that support then you should definitely stick to just offering them sympathy.
- Don’t go into detail about the tragedy itself. The recipient will not want to focus on the circumstances in which the person they loved was lost.