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The How-To Lounge: Sending a Sympathy Card

Writing a thank you note is tricky enough, but even harder is mastering the art of sending a sympathy card. Still, writing a formal sympathy note to a friend who has lost someone close to her — whether you are attending the funeral or not — is a gesture that's always appreciated. Finding the right words can be tricky, however, so to find out how to send a sympathy card,

  • Hand-write your note on formal stationery or an understated note card. Stay away from playful or cutesy designs.
  • Use the tone you would when talking to the person you are writing. If it is a close friend, you should be conversational, but for family or work acquaintances, use a more polite, reserved tone.
  • Open the message by expressing your sympathy and succinctly acknowledging the loss, and use the deceased's name. It can be something as simple as: "I was so saddened to hear about the recent passing of your dad, George."
  • Personalize your note with some sort of tribute to the deceased. You could either list some of the qualities you liked about the person or offer a few of your best memories of the deceased. Short anecdotes are especially good.
  • Include some reminder to help the recipient feel hopeful, along the lines of: "You are lucky to have such a great family around to support you at this time."
  • Finally, sign off with an indication that the mourner is in your thoughts or, if you are a religious person, your prayers.

Do you have more ideas about how to write a sympathy card, or have you received any that you thought were particularly good? If so, please share in the comments below.


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