Sympathy Card Message Writing Tips

Sympathy Card Message Writing Tips

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:

What does my Deepest Condolences mean?

Saying ‘my condolences’ is a way to express your sympathy and empathy for someone who has suffered a loss. It is most often used when the loss is a family member, friend or loved one, but can also be appropriate for something like losing a job or other misfortune. ‘My Condolences’ is also commonly used in a sympathy card or letter, as either the main message or closing.

The word ‘Condolences’ comes from the Latin word ‘condole’ – con (with) and dolere (sorrow) – which means “to suffer together”.

How do you Express Condolences?

You can express your condolences in a variety of different ways. Through a message on a card , a condolence gift, via social media or even in person. The most common way is to write a condolence card. These are a few examples of what you can say in your card to express your sympathy for their loss:

  • You have my deepest sympathies
  • We were so sorry to hear of ______’s passing. Please accept our condolences
  • You will be in my thoughts and prayers
  • Sometimes there are no words, but know that we are here for you
  • Sending you loving thoughts and our sincerest sympathies
  • Find strength in the love of those who surround you
  • Our most heartfelt condolences for your loss
  • My heart goes out to you during this difficult time
  • We are so sad to learn of _____’s passing
  • Words can’t express our sorrow for your loss

Is it My Condolence or My Condolences?

The correct way to use it is: “My Condolences”, the plural. However “My Condolence” is acceptable too, but it isn’t usually used this way and may appear strange to native English speakers.

Can you say My Condolences to You and Your Family?

Yes, it’s absolutely fine to say ‘My Condolences to you and your family’. You may find adding a phrase before this makes your message sound better. Something like “I was so sorry to hear about [name of the deceased]’s passing. My condolences to you and your family”

How do you Write Condolences?

Writing a condolence message or letter may seem intimidating but doesn’t have to be. You only need to say a few words that let the bereaved know you’re thinking of them. A few condolence examples for a card or letter:

  • I was so sorry to hear of your loss. _____ was such an amazing person. Their memory will live on in our hearts
  • The passing of _____ has come as such a shock to us all. You have and your family have my deepest condolences
  • Losing someone like _____ leaves such a hole in our lives. They will never be forgotten
  • _____’s incredible spirit will live on in our memories. We hope you can take comfort knowing how much he/she touched us
  • You have our most sincere condolences for your loss, and if there’s anything you need don’t hesitate to ask
  • My deepest sympathies and hoping you can find strength in such a trying time
  • I will be praying for you to find peace. My condolences on your loss
  • May you always keep _____ in your heart and hold on to the amazing times you had together

For more message ideas see all our message examples, or our guide on how to write a condolence letter.

Are Condolences Only for Death?

No, although that is what they’re usually associated with. Condolences can apply to any suffering or anguish, like the death of a loved one, but also the loss of a job or end of a relationship. In each case you can offer your condolences or sympathies to express your understanding and compassion for the hurt they’re experiencing.

Is it Okay to say Sorry for your Loss?

Although the phrase “I’m sorry for your loss” is overly used, that’s because it works as a simple yet effective way to convey your empathy and understanding of their grief. If you can’t come up with another saying or your own words then letting someone know “I’m sorry for your loss” is a good way to show that person you’re thinking of them.

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.

Offering Help

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.