When those close to us are going through difficult times, it is natural to want to help in some way. Watching a loved one experience loss or extreme sadness can be heartbreaking and we want to ease their pain. But, how do we know what will help them the most? How do we decide what to write in a sympathy card that will bring comfort—especially when we know that words are never enough?
In most cases, the simple act of giving or sending a sympathy card will go a long way. If appropriate, sympathy gifts are also appreciated. However, it can be difficult to find the right gift or words to show how much you care. Use the tips and ideas below to formulate the best approach in each unique situation.
Things to Know Before Writing a Sympathy Message
One important thing to remember is to be sensitive and compassionate without distracting from the grieving process. It is tempting to compare our own feelings and experiences with those of our friends and family members. Try to avoid this as much as possible and keep the focus on them. Do not tell them you know how they feel or share stories of a time you went through something similar. Simply be there for them and express sympathy and love.
What to Write in a Condolence Card: Ideas for Inspiration
Knowing what to write in a sympathy card for loss takes a special amount of love and attention. It’s perfectly acceptable to keep the message short and sweet, particularly if the card already contains a message of condolences. The main goal is to express that you are thinking of them, that you love them, and that you are willing to help them if you can.
Use these examples of what to write in a condolence card for inspiration.
- I’m sorry for your loss.
- We love you.
- We will miss him/her too.
- We are thinking of you during this hard time.
- We will cherish the wonderful memories we have of him/her.
- We are grateful to have known him/her.
- I am here for you if you need anything.
- You are in our thoughts and prayers.
- I was sad to hear the news and want you to know I’m thinking of you.
- We wish we could be there to celebrate his/her life with you, but we send our love.
In some specific family circumstances, such as a parent, child, or sibling, you may wish to get more personal.
- We appreciate the impact your family has had on our lives.
- We will get through this together.
- I hope we can honor his/her legacy and follow in his/her footsteps.
- I know you will miss him/her as much as I will.
- I will never forget the way he/she…
- Remember the time we…
If you wish to make your message longer, you can combine more than one of these phrases in a thoughtful note. We’ve provided some examples of this as well as some additional unique messages that may help you to communicate your thoughts and feelings.
What to Write in a Sympathy Card for Loss of a Father
It’s never easy losing a father. Whether your loved one’s relationship with his or her father was close or complicated, it still hurts. Here are some ways to express your condolences and show that you are there for them during this difficult time.
- I was sad to hear the news of your father’s passing. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.
- I know how much your dad meant to you. And I know you’ll honor his legacy and follow in his footsteps.
- Though you had your ups and downs with your father, I know how much you cared for him. And I know he knew this too. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything. I love you.
- I’m so sorry for your loss. You’ve always spoken highly of your dad, the way he’d surprise you on your birthdays and the way he’d encourage you to pursue your dreams and goals. He understood how much you appreciated this and loved him. I’m here if you need anything.
If you were close to their father, here are additional ways to personalize the message even more.
- Your father was such a wonderful man, and we are so grateful we were able to get to know him. Our family is thinking of you. Please let us know if you need anything.
- Your father was a great mentor to me, and I was sad to hear the news of his passing. Please know that I am thinking of you during this time. If you need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
- I am so sorry you are going through such a hard time. We will cherish the memories we have of your father. I am here if you need to talk or you need a hug. I love you!
- Remember the time we went on that road trip together with your dad? I’ll never forget the way he’d crank up the tunes and sing along loudly as we drove down the PCH. I love you, and I am thinking of you.
What to Write in a Sympathy Card for Loss of a Mother
A mother’s love is unconditional, and losing someone like that is never easy. You can use these examples to craft your message to your friend or acquaintance who’s lost their mother. We’ve also provided additional examples of notes that elicit love and care.
- Your mother was such a kind woman who inspired you in so many ways. I know you’ll miss her. You and your family are in my heart.
- I’ll never forget the way you’d always call your mother each day to make sure she was okay. You loved her so much. I’m thinking of you.
- Your mother meant so much to you. I know you’ll miss her very much, and I’m here if you need anything. I love you, friend.
- The lessons she gave you, the way she cared, the love she gave . . . all of these amazing things will live on in you.
Here are ways to individualize your message if you had a connection with their mother.
- There was no one like your mom. She was a selfless woman with so much talent and love. She’ll be with you always. Please let me know if you need anything.
- I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m truly grateful to have gotten to know your mother. I will always remember the funny and heartwarming conversations I had with her. Please reach out if you need anything at all.
- I’ll always remember the spontaneous adventures I went on with your mom. She was fearless and exuded so much love. She will be missed.
- I was so sad to hear of the passing of your beautiful mother. She always made me feel loved when I visited you, and I will truly miss her. I am so grateful she was a part of my life.
What to Write in a Sympathy Card for Loss of a Husband
Losing a husband in one’s life is painful. A husband is someone’s true love and partner-in-crime through thick and thin. When he leaves suddenly, it’s a huge and difficult adjustment. Be sure to reach out to them with the right words so they know they are not alone.
A few good ways include complimenting the relationship they shared and/or acknowledging the greatness their partner showered onto those around them. Below are a few good examples to get you started.
- What you both shared was truly special. You are in my thoughts, and I love you. I’m here if you need anything.
- The love your partner had for you is something that can never be taken away. He will always be with you. Know that I’m thinking of you during this time.
- I will always remember how your husband would check in to make sure you were okay and safe. He was a great man and will be missed.
- Your husband was always the life of the party, lighting up everyone’s mood wherever he went. He was a special person, and I know how much he meant to you. Please know that I will always be here for you if you need anything.
If you were friends with the husband, take the time to illustrate the love and care you had for their spouse.
- Your husband was such a great friend and neighbor. We appreciate all he has done for our family over the years and will miss waving to him as we pass the house. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family.
- I remember your husband would always give me a ride to work when I had carpool issues. Not only was he kind, but he truly looked after his teammates.
- Your husband poured his heart and soul into every project that came his way. He was the hardest working person I knew, and he really cared about his employees.
- When we were kids, your husband would always be willing to help me out with homework. He always looked out for his friends. I’ll miss him a lot, and he’ll never be forgotten.
What to Write in a Sympathy Card for Loss of a Wife
If someone you know is going through the loss of their wife, use these messages to comfort them.
- Your wife was a special person with a big heart. Hold on to her memories and know she’s always with you. If you want to talk to someone, don’t hesitate to reach out.
- I know how much your wife meant to you. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.
- My heart goes out to you during this difficult time. Praying for peace and comfort to help you heal and face the days ahead. Let me know if you need anything.
- I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope the love that surrounds you right now brings you comfort and strength. And I hope that the happy memories of your wife shower you with peace during this difficult time.
If you shared a friendship with their wife, let their family know. They’ll appreciate all the good thoughts.
- Our hearts felt heavy when we heard about the loss of your wife. Please know how much time and care she put into looking after our family. We loved her dearly and will miss her.
- Your wife was a valuable employee and friend. She would always make sure each person on her team had everything they needed to succeed and had a smile on her face even during stressful times. So many people enjoyed working with her and getting to know her. She will be missed. Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you and your family.
- She would always be the first one to reach out when I was going through a difficult time. I will always cherish the conversations we had and the strength and love she carried to help those around her. She will be missed by many.
What to Write in a Sympathy Card for a Coworker
When a coworker experiences the loss of a loved one, an injury, prolonged illness, or other difficulties, it is appropriate to send condolences. If the coworker is a close friend, you may use the examples listed above. Otherwise, it is acceptable to write a sympathy card for a coworker from multiple people in the office, similar to the examples below.
- We were sad to hear of your loss and we are all thinking of you.
- We miss you at the office and hope you feel better soon!
- You are in our thoughts during this difficult time.
- We hope you are surrounded by loved ones and send our sympathies.
- Please let us know if we can help in any way, and know that you are missed.
In the case of a coworker passing away, sending a sympathy card to the surviving family members is a wonderful gesture. Include a personal message expressing fondness for the person they lost. It is also helpful to specify how you knew the family member.
- We enjoyed working with him/her.
- We will miss seeing him/her at the office every day.
- He/She was such a joy to work with.
- My office was next to his/hers and we loved taking our lunch breaks together. He/She will truly be missed in our department and I wish your family the best.
What to Write on a Belated Sympathy Message
Although we try our best to stay on top of things, life happens. Ideally, you would express condolences within the first two weeks, but if this is not possible or time gets away from you, you should still reach out. It is polite to acknowledge that some time has passed, but there is no need to make excuses or explain yourself. Here are some examples of what you can say after time got the best of you:
- We were so sad to hear about your loss and wish we could have been there to celebrate his/her life with you. We are thinking of you and sending hugs.
- I just wanted to let you know I have been thinking about you. I know it has been a few months, but that the hurt doesn’t just go away. I am still here if you need me.
- We hope you have a happy holiday and wanted to let you know we are thinking of you and missing him/her too. He/She always made this time of year so special.
- I figured you would be missing your mom on her birthday, so I sent you a special treat. I know my cookies aren’t as good as the ones she used to make, but they are filled with love.
You may also wish to send another card to follow up on the initial card you sent. In those cases, your message could include something like the following:
- We wanted to follow up with our last card to simply remind you that we love you and are here for you during this difficult time. Please, don’t hesitate to reach out if you need any support.
- We’re still here for you for as long as you need a shoulder to cry on or a meal sent to your door. We love you and hope that you still get the support you need during this tender time.
- I can only imagine how difficult the last few months have been for you. I wanted to remind you that if you ever need anything, we’re just a phone call away.
How to Sign a Sympathy Card
Your signature at the end of the sympathy card should be paired with a phrase that can adequately capture the emotion behind the letter. This phrase will differ depending on the message of the card and your relationship with the person you are writing to. Here are some options you can use or look at for inspiration:
- Wishing you peace,
- Keeping you in my thoughts,
- I’ll be praying for you,
- With sympathy,
- Thinking of you always,
- Sending you all of my love,
What Not to Write in a Sympathy Message
You must remember that the recipient of your message is feeling a lot of emotions, so you need to be as sensitive as possible. As such, you should avoid communicating any of the following in your card:
- Telling them what to do. Don’t try to give them advice, no matter how good it sounds at the time. Telling them to “move on” or that “they’ll meet someone else” is in poor taste.
- Telling them how to feel. Saying “I know how you feel” or “don’t be too upset” will make it seem as though you don’t care about their feelings.
- Minimizing their loss. Phrases like “at least they lived a long life” or “at least they’re in a better place” are not as reassuring as you might think.
- Mentioning the details of the death. Don’t go into details about how their loved one died. That will likely just unearth feelings that are already tumultuous.
- Empathizing with their loss. It’s ok to say “I’ve experienced a similar loss,” but leave it at that. Don’t make it about you, and don’t assume your loss was equal or greater than their loss.
How To Help A Grieving Loved One [14 Tips]
In addition to putting careful thought into what to write in a sympathy card, an act of kindness is always appreciated. When a person or family is grieving, it can be difficult to cook and clean and keep up with other regular activities. In many cases, the family may forget to eat altogether. Stopping by with a meal or treat may be just what they need. You can try some of the suggestions below or get more great ideas for supporting friends and family with our sympathy gift guide.
- Make them a home-cooked meal.
- Order gourmet soup from Spoonful of Comfort and have a delicious, soothing meal delivered.
- Bake their favorite treat.
- Hire a professional housekeeper for quick cleaning.
- If the person is a close friend or family member, clean up for them.
- Drop off some basic groceries, including paper plates and cups so they won’t need to do dishes.
- Babysit children.
- Bring them games, coloring books, or other entertainment for children.
- Give them a gift, such as a journal, framed photo, or another keepsake.
- Give them gift cards for restaurants or a spa.
- Give them calming items like scented candles or a super soft throw blanket.
- Shovel snow from their driveway or mow their lawn.
- Donate to their favorite charity in their honor.
- Sit with them and listen.
When offering assistance to a grieving loved one, keep in mind that they may not ask for help. They may even tell you they are fine and do not need anything. Try to respect their wishes while looking for appropriate ways to serve. You may also opt to do something anonymously. For example, a next-door neighbor can most likely get away with shoveling snow or mowing the lawn without being asked.
When offering, try to be specific. Although it is kind to say, “Let me know if you need anything,” it is not as helpful as, “Can I bring you dinner?” You can also mention ways you plan to help in a note or sympathy card.
For example, “We are sorry for your loss and our hearts go out to you. Dinner is on us tonight! We hope you enjoy it and that it helps lighten your load a little bit. Please call if we can do anything else!”
Or, “Your husband was such a tremendous help around the neighborhood during snowstorms! We will miss his smiling face as we attempt to fill his shoes. Don’t worry about your driveway, we got this!”
Spoonful of Comfort
Nothing complements a caring card like a little comfort food. Send your loved ones a delicious gift basket filled with gourmet soup, rolls, and cookies. Our beautiful baskets are perfect for any occasion and are a wonderful way to cheer someone up or make sure they get a good meal on a bad day. See what sharing the gift of Spoonful of Comfort can do. Check out our variety of gift baskets and send one to someone you love today!
See below for other posts in our Sympathy Gift Guide: