How to Write a Sympathy Note
Avoid the awkwardness and learn how to write a sympathy note
Writing a sympathy note is one of those awkward moments we all face sooner or later. At some time or another in your life you will know someone who has lost a loved one, whether human or pet. You may even have known the one who died.
So what do you do? Sit in your room with your head in your hands and wait for enough time to pass? Probably not. Hopefully not. Hopefully, what you will do is express your sympathy.
It is a generous and thougtful gesture to show our support to the bereaved. The big question is how to do this. How do you write a sympathy note?
Here, I'll take you through several scenarios that will help you to express sympathy easier and with more confidence. I'll share with you what it felt like to receive those sympathy notes and help you find your way to write your own notes.
All card images are used with permission by SandraRoseDesigns.com where you can find every one of the cards shown here, along with plenty more choices,
What I Learned When My Mother Died
Let me clue you in
I use my own experience here, plus comments from many others who have been in this situation.
My mother died several years ago. She had been an active volunteer, was a member of a large extended family, and had easily made friends all her life. She died after a long illness.
The sympathy notes and cards were numerous. And I read every single one.
Many of the cards and notes came from her friends and relatives, but many came from the friends and relatives of her family. My own friends, my own in-laws, my children's friends, my siblings' friends, in-laws and work associates all sent some form of written sympathy.
At such a time of loss, the act of reading the notes and cards helped me feel stronger, helped me feel closer to my mother, and helped me appreciate the support offered through the act of sending those cards.
That's why you want to send a card - just to show your support to your friend, relative, co-worker and the family.
The Nature of Sympathy
When you want to know about sympathy and what it is, how to handle it and more, this book is a useful guide for you.
Phone Call or Card to Express Sympathy
Which is appropriate?
Is it better to make a phone call? Or send a card?
The answer is - that depends. It depends on how close you really are to the family.
One thing to remember, the family will gather together. They will notify people of the death. They will work out the details of the funeral. They will try to deal with their own grief. And they will talk about the loss, remembering family stories, retelling last moments and answering the same questions over and over.
Are you close enough to the family to make a phone call that will interrupt this? Are you able to say words that will be supportive, not awkward?
If you can't answer "yes" to each question, then you need to send a card.
Cards help in another way. They have more staying power. A card can be read over and over by more of the family than just the receiver of the phone call. It can be read during a time convenient for the family members.
When a Gift is in Order
Sometimes sending a gift to the bereaved family members makes sense to you. You will want a gift that will be helpful to them as well as a way to express your sympathy.
I've chosen these as useful, supportive, calming, and even helpful.
Gifts of food are also useful, especially to the family members as they struggle with their loss.
What to Write In a Sympathy Card
Avoid the awkward time
Expressing your sympathy can be one of the most awkward things you have to do. Second to, maybe, your first date, but really awkward just the same.
The last thing you want to do is the foot-in-the-mouth thing, but what do you write?
What you write is simple. Really, just a simple message of support.
Let's take the scenario of a friend, someone you know pretty well, who lost a close relative. Your sympathy words can be as simple as: I am sorry to hear of your loss. I'm here for you if you need anything.
A second scenario might be that you knew the one who died and you want to express your sympathy to the family. Again, simple words work well: We were honored to know Linda. Her energy and support was a treat to us all. She will be missed. You are all in our prayers and thoughts.
A third scenario could be an associate, someone you didn't know close but possibly worked with, lost a close relative. This is definitely the time you keep it simple: I want to express my sympathy at the loss of your mother. Know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
Simple wording does work well.
How to Pick a Sympathy Card
You can make it personal
OK, so you are going to send a card. Now what?
Here you have two options. You can use a nice notecard that you have available. But, remember to pick a notecard that is appropriate. A cartoon on the front is rarely appropriate.
Or, you can pick out a greeting card. Nearly every store carries a selection of greeting cards. There are multiple on-line greeting card options. I'll tell you about my choice later.
Whatever greeting card you choose, you can make it personal. Say your friend loves roses, or you know her mother did, pick a card with roses on it.
If pets were important in his/her life, choose a card with an dog or cat on it. Butterflies are always a beautiful option, too.
A little personal note here: the cards that had long poems were not read by any of us when my mother died. We all skipped the long printed stuff and went right to the personal message at the bottom. So don't worry about reading through a long verse on a card. Choose a more simple sentiment.
Death of a Pet
Do you send a card?
Sending a card to someone who has lost a beloved pet is a generous gesture.
I have lost many pets in my lifetime, and almost never received a note of sympathy. The one exception was a veterinary clinic. When I had to put down a beloved cat who had shared my life for many years, I received a beautiful sympathy card from the clinic. It was personally signed by many of the staff, including the vet himself. It was a simple, yet so wonderful, gesture. I appreciated it.
Remember, many pets are part of the family. When they die, the grief is strong. So what do you write? Again, keep it simple. Like "You are in my thoughts during this difficult time." Or "I was so sorry to hear of your loss of Rover. I know you have wonderful memories of his life with you." Or "I know you miss your beloved Fluffy. I'm here for you if you need anything." Simple statements that tell the bereaved you are thinking of them are all that is necessary.
So don't feel silly about sending a card for the death of a pet. It will be a very welcome gesture on your part.
Sympathy Cards On-Line
My favorite, plus others
Everything is available online, including greeting cards. The choices are endless. There are very large sites with hundreds of thousands of cards. There are smaller sites with less than a hundred. And there is my favorite.
SandraRose Designs is an online store with the most beautiful cards I have ever seen. The cards in this article are just some of the greeting cards from SandraRose Designs. You have the convenience of sending the card directly from the site with your own personal message. You can even set up your calendar and get email reminders for all the important occasions in your life. How convenient is that?
If you are looking for something special, SandraRose will work with you to design just the card you want.
© 2009 BuckHawkcenter