Sympathy Card Etiquette
When a loved one passes away, it's a very hard time for everyone who knew them. It's hard to know just how to act and what to say when you are trying to offer your condolences. You may be wondering if there are any rules about sending out a sympathy card.
Image courtesy of Tom Hilton on Creative Commons.
Time is of the Essence
The Sooner the Better
First, you should get your card in the mail as soon as you hear the news that someone has passed. If you are away or unable to send a card quickly, it's ok to send it up to two weeks later. Many people stop there, thinking that if they missed the optimal time to send a sympathy card that they should just forget the whole thing. Not so. It's better to send a sympathy card at any time than not to send one at all.
If you find a month, two months or even a few months have gone by and you still have not sent your card or sympathy gift basket because you could not find the words, go ahead and send one now. A friend or loved one will still need comforting even a year after a death, so your card will be welcomed.
Sending Flowers - Show Sympathy Ideas
Is it a Go or No?
Should you send money in a sympathy card? Many people want to help offset the cost of the funeral or burial expenses or simply offer a little help to the bereaved, but this is not the time to send money. It could be considered disrespectful, as if you are saying the recipient doesn't have enough money. You may have meant it in the kindest way, but it could be taken as an offense. So, to be safe, save your cash and instead bring over food. That's always appropriate.
Bring something that can go in the freezer as the bereaved may not have any appetite and all the food he receives will spoil. Or, you could send flowers. A classic sympathy bouquet arrangement can be made at any florist and sent over to the funeral home. Never bring flowers with you to a funeral or wake. Have them delivered by a professional florist shop.
Addressing the Griever
Sending Your Love
Always address your letter as Mr. or Mrs. Jones. And sign your full name even if the person knows you. Cards may get separated from their envelopes and if you just write Cathy, the recipient may not know which Cathy sent the card.
- Sympathy Gift Baskets
Send your condolences with a tasteful sympathy gift basket from AA Gifts & Baskets - browse our large selection of bereavement and condolence gifts today.
How about if you're the recipient of sympathy cards or a sympathy cookie bouquet? What's the etiquette you should follow? Even though you are in a bereaved state, you should acknowledge any personal notes that you received. If someone took the time to write a letter, it's proper to acknowledge it. That being said, you may not feel up to writing thank you notes. It's ok to designate someone else who is close to you to write out thank you notes. You should also be sure that everyone who sent flowers receives a written thank you. It is not necessary to write a thank you for a sympathy card.
People don't expect you to be bubbly, overly talkative or happy. Don't stress yourself over sending out Thank You's or any other things you might feel obligated to do. Take your time and when the time is right, you'll know.
Your Loss is Your Time
Don't Make it Harder
If you are on the receiving end of sympathy, remember that people want to comfort you and that they do not expect anything back from you. It may help you work through the grieving process to write a short note to everyone who was especially kind to you during your hard time.
If it has the opposite effect and just wears you out, save the task for a time in the future when you feel more up to it.