What to Write in a Sympathy Card

By on November 21, 2015

When someone passes away, it is difficult to figure out what to say. There is literally nothing that you could do or say that would make losing a loved one easier to deal with. For many people, finding a way to express your feelings and provide support is hard to do. This list of guidelines is made for multiple situations and can be customized to suit your exact needs. Keep in mind that you should always be honest and sincere in your writing. Use these quotes to capture the depth of your feelings and make the recipient feel loved during their time of sadness.

The Basic Guidelines for What to Write in a Sympathy Card

A sympathy card is not your chance to catch up with an old friend or to be cute. A simple “Dear ___” is all it takes to start out the card. Follow this with a few short, concise sentences and keep it formal. Unless the person is a close friend or family member, trying to be personal, informal or using nicknames can backfire. Likewise, you should make sure to use a blue or black pen because a flashier color like pink is too much for a solemn occasion. You should also keep in mind the religious beliefs of the individual when you send a card—“He’s with the angels now,” would only be a reminder of what has been lost if the individual is an atheist. At the very least, your goal should be not to offend anyone as you express your heartfelt condolences.

Keeping It Simple

It is impossible to say the right thing or truly express the loss that has just occurred in your friend’s life. Death is never easy to deal with, but you can try your best to avoid a serious faux pas or other issues. Keep it simple, let them know that you care and be concise. It may feel cold to write just a short message, but it can still feel warm and loving if you write it well. Some ideas for simple, short messages include:

Deepest sympathy for your loss.
You and your family are in our prayers as you mourn John.
I am sorry for your loss.

Keep in mind what your relationship to the deceased is. If you never met the family, you may want to add a note about how you knew the deceased.

Showing Your Support

If you are close to the family or just are especially hurt by the loss, you can always offer to support them through their grief. Housework, cooking and making funeral arrangements are some of the most common things that people offer to help with. If you do make a support offer, you should make sure that you have the time and ability to follow through on it. The family cannot handle being let down at such a difficult time, so only make an offer of support that you can keep.


Example ideas:

I know that you are going through a lot right now. If I can help in any way, please tell me. I am here for you in whatever way you need to.
You are always in my thoughts. Reach out to me if you need anything.
It would be impossible to take away your grief and pain right now, but I can be a shoulder to cry on whenever you need me.

What to Write in a Sympathy Card When You Share the Same Faith

In some ways, sharing the same faith can make writing a sympathy card easier. You do not have to worry about using the right concept of the after life or God when you believe the same thing. If you both share the same core beliefs, then you can express this in the card without worrying about offending, and it may provide the family with some solace.


I am sorry for your loss. John is in God’s arms now, and I know that he is still with us.
May God love and support you through this trial. You are in our prayers.

Speaking Well of the Diseased

When someone loses a loved one, it can be comforting to hear kind thoughts and memories about the diseased. You can write a short message about your memories, but only do this if you actually have positive memories or a positive impression of the deceased. Sincerity goes a long way during these times, and the family will certainly know if you make up an untrue compliment.


John was a remarkable person who was always kind to every person that he met.
As hard as it is right now, we should celebrate John’s life because he was never one to dwell on sadness.
I share in your sadness—the world has lost an original, beautiful soul.

Use a Quote

If you are not sure about what to say, you can always try using a quote. This quote could be a favorite saying of the deceased, or it can just be a message that made you think of them. Some of the most popular quotes include:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burned, and I will give you rest.” –Matthew 11:28
“The remembrance of the good done those we have loved is the only consolation when we have lost them.” –Demoustier
“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” –Marcus Tullius Cicero
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.” –Psalm 23
“What we have once enjoyed, we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes part of us.” –Helen Keller

How to Share the Sadness

When you are trying to figure out what to write in a sympathy card, you should work on finding ways to connect. Let the bereaved know that you are not alone and that you understand everything that they are going through.


I miss John, too. He was an amazing man, and the world just got a little darker without the light of his soul.
I am saddened by the loss of your son. He will remain in my heart—and the hearts of all who knew him—forever.
I miss Jane along with you.

Providing Comfort in a Sympathy Card

If you do not have the right quote or a personal story, you can still comfort the bereaved in a sympathy card. Just send them an uplifting message of hope and comfort. This can be done alone or as a part of a longer message.


Even in this time of loss, everyone who knew him is comforted by the many good memories that remain.
Our hearts go out to you and everyone who knew her.
I am with you in spirit and thought during this difficult time.

Remember to Make a Follow Up

Sending a condolence card is always a good start to comforting the bereaved, but it will not be enough. The bereaved will have to handle the ongoing implications and loneliness of their loss. After a few weeks and around holidays, go out of your way to help your loved ones or send them a kind message. Some potential ideas include:

Christmas will never be the same without John. I will keep you in my prayers and thoughts during the holidays. If you need anything or just want to talk, I am always here.
I was thinking of Jane today and wished that I could do something to support you. An anniversary is never easy to deal with, and I wanted you to know that I care.
Although the funeral is over, the pain does not go away as easy. I will always be there for you whenever you need me.

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