Words can fail when you’re reckoning with loss. When someone in your life experiences the death of a loved one, you’ll want to show your support for them in the tough moment, but figuring out exactly what to say can be a real challenge. It often feels like there is no perfect statement that can truly capture the gravity of the situation and the grief that your friend or family member may be feeling. Still, the person in mourning will most likely find a sympathy card to be deeply impactful.
Your message will likely vary depending on who you’re sending it to, as it’s appropriate to deliver a condolence message to a wide range of people in your life, from a close friend or family member to a coworker. A sympathy message is also appreciated after the death of a beloved pet, and your heartfelt condolence can even be shared when someone loses a job.
How do you write a condolence message?
The purpose of a sympathy card is to show up for the person in your life who is grieving and to share your sincere condolences for the loss they’ve experienced. It can be hard to find the right thing to say, but the most important thing is to speak from your heart and share some comforting words.
Your message may vary depending on how close you are to the person who has experienced a loss, as well as if you knew the person who has passed. If you can get personal in your message, you should—sharing a favorite memory of the person who has passed or something you loved about them is a heartwarming way to show your support for the bereaved.
The most important thing to avoid in a sympathy message is a statement that makes the loss about you. Avoid comparing the loss of the bereaved with a loss that you’ve experienced—these kinds of statements can feel supportive, but they often end up diminishing the experience that the mourner is going through. While you can be empathetic with a caring note, you don’t have to draw yourself into it too much. It’s also a good idea to avoid clichés—telling someone that “everything happens for a reason” will not make them feel supported or comforted about the loss they are experiencing.
If you plan to attend a funeral or memorial service, you can allude to it in the message, and if you’re unable to see the bereaved in person, you can use the sympathy card as an opportunity to share your warmest condolences more at length. If you can’t attend a service, you can also place a funeral flower order in honor of the deceased or send a sympathy gift.
What is a good sympathy message?
A good sympathy card shows the bereaved that you’re there for them in their sorrow with lots of love. Try to share something personal that will make your message a little more intimate, and if you directly know the person who passed, share a beautiful memory of them or talk about what an amazing person they were. A great loss is very painful, so notes of appreciation, prayer, love, and uplifting messages are greatly appreciated by the bereaved.
If you know the deceased but not the person you’re sending the message to (e.g. a husband, wife, or the closest family member), tell them how you knew the person, and share a little bit about your experience with them.
In a sympathy message, you can also offer to help the bereaved with meals, yard work, or even funeral preparations (if you are close enough that such an offer wouldn’t feel out of the question). Instead of asking questions or being vague with your offer, be as direct and specific as possible. Close family members of the deceased may be reluctant to ask for help and will likely be overwhelmed as they plan the funeral or memorial service amid their grief. Telling the bereaved that you will be sending or dropping off frozen meals gives them one less task to think about.
When should I send a sympathy message?
If you’re hesitant to send a sympathy card because you’re not sure you have the right words for the situation, or you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing, don’t worry. A kind word can provide lots of comfort to a person experiencing loss, and when you speak from your heart, you will be able to connect with them in their sorrow. It’s ideal to send your condolences as soon as you can, but you don’t need to fret if you think your message might seem too delayed—your love, support, and kind thoughts will be appreciated at any time.
The contents of your note will vary depending on the situation, your relationship with the deceased, and the person you’re sending a card to. These sympathy card messages and condolence quotes will give you an idea of the right thing to say if you’re at a loss for words.
Sympathy card message for the loss of a mother
The loss of a parent or guardian is particularly hard at any age. When a person is mourning the death of their mother, a message of sincere sympathy can let them know that they’re not alone in their sorrow and that they have people they can turn to if they need help—emotional or otherwise. If you’re not as familiar with the bereaved, you can opt for a more formal message, but if they are a close friend or family member, you can send your love with a personal and heartfelt message about their mother. If you were friends with the deceased, a note to her children can share a happy memory of her.
- “I’m deeply saddened to hear the news about your mother.” For a more formal note, this message offers a straightforward yet supportive message. It can be paired with a sympathy gift, like flowers or a homemade meal.
- “With heartfelt sympathy, sending you nothing but love and comfort during this difficult time.” These caring thoughts are meant to be a balm to a person grieving the loss of their mother. It can be sent as a funeral card ahead of a memorial service.
- “Wishing you comfort.” This short sympathy greeting card can be paired with a longer, personal note inside.
- “Calm waters” – offer your condolences for the loss of their mother and offer help with anything they need.
Sympathy card message for the loss of a father
When someone loses their dad, they can use all the love and support they can get. Some comforting words, perhaps even paired with a happy memory of the deceased, can bring some warmth and comfort into the life of the bereaved who is mourning their father.
- “Strength and love” This sympathy quote can help to comfort someone grieving the loss of their dad.
- “Thinking of you” This funeral card can show support to the bereaved as they mourn their dad. In it, you can also offer some kind of support to help them through the tough time.
Sympathy card for the loss of a pet
The loss of a beloved pet is always hard. For animal lovers, dogs, cats, and other pets are true members of the family, and so they may be mourned as such. You can send the bereaved a bouquet of sympathy flowers, as well as one of these notes to express your sincere sympathy.
- “This is true: all dogs and kitties go to heaven.” The thought of their furry friend being in a better place can provide some real comfort for bereaved pet owners.
- “Our pets live on in our hearts forever.” While we may not have the luxury of having our beloved pets at our side for our entire lives, we can keep our memories of them with us into the future.
- “Sending you love.” When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with a pet sympathy card that shows you care.
- “Pet Love” – send love in a difficult time and offer help to the grieving pet parent.
Sympathy card message for a coworker
Figuring out what to say to a coworker who is experiencing the loss of a husband, wife, mother, father, or other close family members can be particularly challenging. If you’re not close on a personal level, you don’t want to feel like you’re overstepping boundaries—but at the same time, you want to make them aware that you’re there to support them through their grief. These messages are sincere and heartfelt.
- “Deeply saddened to hear of your family troubles. Wishing you and your loved ones a safe journey home.” A more formal note is suitable for a coworker in mourning. This message expresses your deepest condolences in a kind, sincere way.
- “I’m here for you.” Getting back to work after the loss of a loved one is challenging—this message lets your coworker know they can count on you if they’re having a hard time.
- “Sending you lots of love at this difficult time.” A simple, supportive condolence card (perhaps paired with some sympathy flowers) is heartfelt and meaningful.
Sympathy message card for someone who lost their job
Losing a job can feel so destabilizing and frustrating. While the experience may be different from that of a death of a close friend or family member, it’s still a time that comes with deep sorrow and loneliness. So, it is appropriate to share your love and support in a short condolence message. A bit of cheerleading and positivity is more welcome here than is for other sympathy cards—you want to let the recipient know that you’re here for them if they need to wallow and sit through their sadness, but you’re also there to help them move on to bigger and better things.
- “The bigger the storm, the bigger the rainbow.” In tough times, the promise of brighter days ahead can be encouraging. This message shows you understand that your friend may be struggling now, but they are sure to come out on top (especially with some encouragement).
- “I’ll hold your hand through this nightmare.” A simple message of love and support can make a real difference, especially when someone feels like they’re going through a hard time alone.
- “Sometimes even unicorns feel down. I believe in you.” Losing a job can make a person feel a lot of self-doubt, so an encouraging message like this is just the thing to cheer them up.
- “Sending good vibes.” Sometimes, a reminder to look on the bright side can be really helpful.
How to sign a sympathy card?
A virtual sympathy card doesn’t have to be especially long—a few sentences expressing your heartfelt sympathies will be much appreciated. If you’re planning on attending a funeral or memorial service, you can note that you will see the bereaved soon, or you can close the condolence card with an offer of help—whether that be with housework or anything else that might be useful to the person in mourning. Once you tie up your thoughts, you can sign the note like you normally would to a close friend or family member—“with love”—or you can tell the recipient that they’re in your thoughts and prayers. Above all else, a show of love will provide a lot of comfort.
The experience of loss doesn’t just come with sorrow—it can also make people feel deeply alone. That’s why your words, no matter how insufficient they may seem to you at the moment, can provide more comfort and love than you may realize.