This is a question we get asked a lot by customers: “what do I say in my sympathy card? I don’t want to say the wrong thing…”
We get it. It is during these tricky moments that words seem to fail us and we are often paralyzed, not knowing what to say; so sometimes we say nothing.
To help ease any stress, we wanted to offer a few key suggestions on how to compose a thoughtful, genuine and appropriate sympathy message. The bottom line is do not overcomplicate your message. As long as you are writing from the heart, your message will land perfectly.
One critical thing to remember, however, is to be sensitive to the recipient’s grieving process. Sometimes we want to compare our own experiences with loss or personalize someone else’s sadness. Try not to do that in your message. Keep the focus on the bereaved and their pain and sadness.
The idea is to simply be there for them while expressing sympathy and love.
Here are a few ideas to start your message
Let them serve as inspiration to get your own words flowing:
- “I am so sorry for your loss.”
- “My deepest sympathy for your loss.”
- “Words fail to express my deep sorrow for your loss.”
- “My heart goes out to you and your family.”
- “Please know that I am with you, and thinking of you so much during this time.”
- “Sharing in your sadness as you remember your lost loved one.”
- “Wishing you strength and comfort through this difficult time.”
- “Thinking of you and wishing you moments of peace and comfort.”
- “I hope you know I’m here for you during this time of sorrow.”
- “Please accept my warmest condolences. I’m truly sorry for your loss.”
Depending on your relationship with the bereaved, you could then offer a memory of the deceased or, if that doesn’t feel right, offer your support throughout their grieving process.
Try to shy away from “toxic positivity”, i.e. expressions like “you’ll get through this” or “they’re in a better place now”. That helps no one in the depths of grief. Acknowledge their loss and pain and make it clear to them you’re there to support them.
And, if you're able, we highly recommend that your message be handwritten on an actual card or in a letter, versus an email or text message. There is something inherently meaningful about hand written notes, especially in today's increasingly digital world.
It signals to them that you took precious time out of your day to sit down, think about what to say, write it down, find a stamp... it seems small, but that that thoughtfulness can go a long way to those in the throes of grief.