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What To Say (Or Not) in Sympathy Cards


Knowing what to say in a sympathy card is difficult, so we’ve collected 25 thoughtful messages. We’ve even arranged them by relationship, so keep reading if you want to send condolences to a friend, family member, or work colleague. 

While you can look for a sympathy card with a long, preprinted message, it will be more meaningful if you take the time to write a personalized letter. The tone and message will depend on the relationship between the grieving person and the deceased. You also will want to write sympathy messages appropriate for your relationship with the card’s recipient, whether a family member, friend, neighbor, or work associate. 

Sympathy Card Messages You Can Personalize and Send

It’s happened to most of us: staring at the white space on a sympathy card, trying to think of the right thing to say to someone who’s lost a loved one. Your words don’t have to be perfect, just genuine. Losing a loved one is never easy, but having a card to read (and reread) can make someone feel less isolated. 

Loss of a Spouse or Partner

I was deeply saddened to hear that NAME passed. I’m so sorry for your loss, and here for you if you need me.

Your wife/husband touched many lives with her/his acts of kindness. My sincere condolences to you and your family.

I will be forever grateful for knowing NAME and witnessing the love you shared. I’m so sorry for your loss.

My heart aches with the loss of your beloved wife/husband/NAME. Please reach out if there is anything I can do for you and your family.

Loss of a Grandparent

For many, the loss of a grandparent is the first time death touches their lives. Here are five suggestions for what to write on a sympathy card. Be sure to personalize with their names or, at the very least, gender (grandfather, grandmother). 

I never had the pleasure of meeting (NAME), but I’ve heard she/he was kind and loving. I’m sincerely sorry for your loss. 

I was deeply saddened to hear about the loss of your grandmother/father. I’m here for you if you need anything.

I know that you were very close to your grandmother/father. Please accept my sincere condolences.

I had the pleasure of knowing (NAME). She/he was exceptional. I am so sorry for your loss. 

Loss of a Mother

A mother’s passing is one of life’s most profound losses. You are never fully prepared for this loss, even as an adult. Knowing that someone cares enough to write a thoughtful message is most appreciated. 

I never had the pleasure of knowing your mother, but your kindness and warmth prove she was extraordinary. I’m so sorry for your loss. 

(NAME) was one of the kindest and most compassionate people I’ve known. May her memory be a blessing for you and your family. 

I can’t begin to imagine what you’re feeling, but I want you to know that I am here for you. Please accept my deepest sympathy for the loss of your mom.  

(NAME) was a remarkable woman with a great sense of humor. Please know that you’re loved and supported in your time of grief.

Loss of a Father

Losing a father – or a father figure – can feel overwhelming. Someone who recently lost a beloved father deserves support and kindness. 

I know how much (NAME) loved you and how close you were. I am here to support you whenever you need me.

There will never be another man like your father. I hope you take comfort in the many memories of your special relationship.

(NAME) was a gentleman with a lovely combination of wit and wisdom. I’m so sorry for your loss.

Your father played an important role in your life. My heart aches for your loss. Please know I am here for you. 

Loss of an Aunt or Uncle

Losing a beloved aunt or uncle is heartbreaking in a close-knit family. Here are sympathy messages for someone who is grieving this type of loss. 

An aunt/uncle can be a role model, mentor, and confidante. I am so sorry for your loss. 

I was deeply saddened to hear of NAME’s passing. Please accept my condolences to you and your family. 

The loss of NAME must be very difficult for you. I am keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

I did not know your aunt/uncle, but I’ve heard she/he was a warm and wonderful person. I am so sorry for your loss. 

Loss of a Child

No parent is prepared to lose a son or daughter. However humble your sympathy message, sharing what is in your heart might be precisely what a grieving parent needs to hear. 

I can’t imagine what you must be going through. NAME was a delight who touched so many lives. Please accept my deepest condolences. 

My heart broke when I heard about the loss of NAME (your beloved son/daughter). If there’s anything I can do to help, please reach out anytime.

NAME was an inspiration to everyone who knew her/him. Nothing I can say will help ease the pain, but I want you to know I’m here for you. 

My heart is heavy with the news of NAME’s passing. Please know I am here to offer comfort and support in any way possible. 

What NOT to Write in a Sympathy Card

As many ways as there are to say how sorry you are for someone’s loss, there are also things that are best left unsaid. You want to write a heartfelt sympathy message without insensitive implications. It is best to keep your messages secular unless you know the recipient’s religious or spiritual beliefs.

  • NAME is in a better place. 
  • God has a plan (or) Everything happens for a reason. 
  • I know how you feel because my father/mother/spouse/child is also gone.
  • You’ll feel better soon.
  • You can remarry/have another child.
  • God wanted NAME as an angel. 
  • I don’t know what I would do if my spouse/parent/grandparent/child died.

Other Ways You Can Help a Grieving Friend

Sending a handwritten sympathy card is a lovely gesture. Here are links to additional Tulip blogs for more ideas on how to help someone through grief and loss.

Helping Others Through Their Grief

Food for Grieving (That’s Not a Casserole) 

How to Talk to Children About Grief

How to Prepare for Hard Days Ahead