By in Personal

What to Write in a Sympathy Card

When somebody dies, it can be hard to know what to do and what to say to them. Their nearest and dearest will feel deep grief, but also isolated as many people stay away and keep their distance, unsure what to say. Many people might feel they didn't know the deceased that well, certainly not well enough to knock on a door, or to offer sympathies face to face. Indeed, they might have only found out the person had died through a newspaper announcement.

For the recently bereaved, they have an urgency to hold onto anything about the person they have lost, to rediscover and uncover the tiniest aspects of their life and existence.

If you are sending a sympathy card then the biggest question you might be asking yourself is what to write on a sympathy card. It's not like a Christmas card or a birthday card, you shouldn't simply sign your name and send it. It's important, if you can, that you write a meaningful message.

It's often therapeutic, reassuring and kind to write something about a memory you have of the person. How kind they were, how they helped you in a certain situation - or even to retell a story that their family might not have known about. Give them a glimpse into how other people experienced the deceased person. "I remember when John was trying to change his car tyre and struggling with the wheel nuts..." - if you have any great memories, then it can also be a good idea to enclose the story in a letter slipped into the card itself. Again, if you have any photos of the deceased that the family might not have seen, it's an idea to consider sending them these too - even if you have to reprint them at the local shop.

At times of death, every crumb of information becomes magnified and these letters and photos will be a great help in their grieving process - to know that others had memories and tales of them too, an affirmation that the deceased was appreciated, remembered and mattered.


Image Credit » Pixabay: Public domain, free for commercial use, no attribution

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scheng1 wrote on January 18, 2015, 4:25 AM

If we can stop ourselves from saying silly things, that is a great achievement. Most of the times, silence is the best.

bestwriter wrote on January 18, 2015, 4:25 AM

Its a good idea to write about the good experiences one has had with the deceased but may be wait till those close to the deceased have got over the shock?

UK_Writer wrote on January 18, 2015, 6:50 AM

Well, a little bit of thought and forethought's required. It's a question of working out what's appropriate. Maybe get somebody to read over your letter before you send it!

UK_Writer wrote on January 18, 2015, 6:52 AM

This is what people do - they wait - and the people feel isolated. If you can write something nice in a sympathy card, soonest, it's good for them and for you. It helps you feel able to face them in the future as you've already made that initial connection, rather than ducking behind the shelf in a shop, unsure what to say. If you don't know what to write in a sympathy card because you've nothing nice to say, or no special memory, then just "thinking of you at this time" at least makes them feel less alone.

bestwriter wrote on January 18, 2015, 7:04 AM

Many prefer to be left alone with their thoughts initially. That is my opinion.

UK_Writer wrote on January 18, 2015, 10:09 AM

Hugs aren't very British :)

NorthernLight wrote on January 18, 2015, 12:44 PM

I always include a personal recollection or anecdote as well as words of sympathy.