ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Write a Sympathy Card

Updated on February 25, 2009

Sympathy cards are simple to write and comforting to receive.

Not sure of what to say in times of trouble? A few simple but well-chosen words can bring much=-appreciated comfort.

You'll need nothing more than a blank card with a simple picture on the front – or perhaps merely your monogram – or even a simple, plain sheet of white or ivory paper, along with an envelope and a stamp. Remember: no one at a time like this is judging the quality of your stationery.

Many people find the most difficult part of any sympathy card is finding the right words to say – so too often many people say nothing at all. Yet saying almost anything at all is better than saying nothing. Taking a moment simply to say "I'm thinking about you, and I'm sorry for your loss" is often plenty.

Luckily, etiquette comes to your rescue. There is a relatively standard “formula” for sympathy cards – so the words are not difficult to find.

Begin with a standard greeting: Dear (your friend's name)

Avoid phrases like "I know how you feel." Instead, simply write that you are sorry for their loss. Write that you are thinking of them at this painful time.

Often, that is enough, just as it is. If you also wish – genuinely – to offer your support, you can add: “Please feel free to call on me if you need anything.” If you can, be specific in your offer, if you are close friends. For example: “Let me know if I can bring you (or your family supper one night this week. I'll call in a few days to see when a good evening might be to drop off a lasagna.”

During times of stress, it’s far more helpful to offer specific help, including details and times, than it is to lay the burden of “what can I do for you?” on the grieving person’s shoulders.

Again, if this is a close friend, and if you have experienced a similar loss – say, of a parent – you may offer a note of comradeship, for example: “I remember how difficult it was when I lost my own father four years ago. My thoughts (and prayers, if appropriate) are with you (and your family).”

Keep it short. You don't need to, nor do you want to, say very much, since the family will be receiving many cards. Neither do you need to be sparklingly original. The main thing is to express that you care. And the above will do the trick.

Note also: If the family is Roman Catholic, you may go to any Roman Catholic Church office and procure a Mass card, meaning that a Mass will be said in honor of the deceased. To have this said, you will need to know the full name, and accurate spelling, of the deceased.

If the family is Jewish, they will be sitting shiva for seven days immediately following the death, and will be holding services in their home – or the various homes of the families – for several evenings. If you are considering a visit, consult the local rabbi about the best appropriate time.

Again: sympathy cards are for offering comfort. No one is spell-checking you, or searching your words and phrases for wit and wonder. Stick to basics, keep it short, and send it soon. It will bring comfort, which is the most important thing.

Offer comfort. That's what friends are for.

A simple, short sympathy card is a helping hand at a difficult time.
A simple, short sympathy card is a helping hand at a difficult time.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • inklesstales profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from California

      It's never a bad idea to send a short note of sympathy, even to someone you don't know all that well. In fact, you aren't SUPPOSED to write a lot in a sympathy card. People who are sad and grieving don't have time or energy for long notes. It's far kinder to keep it short and simple: "I'm so sorry for your loss, but I'm thinking of you at this difficult time." is often PLENTY.

      Honestly - that is OFTEN ALL you need to write to make someone feel better, feel thought of, and to have done your "duty."


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This definetly helped me, but now im wondering if maybe ive wrote too much: May time heal your sorrow, May friends ease your pain, may peace replae heartache, and may warmest memories remain. Much love-sam

      I couldn't write a lot because I didn't know the one who died but it was my good friends brother. I don't see her much but she's in my 6 person girl scout troop. Do you think it's ok?

    • inklesstales profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from California

      Thanks for the kind words!


    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      9 years ago from The Other Bangor

      Good advice. I always have problems knowing what to write, so I found this very useful. Thanks.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)