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What to Write in a Sympathy Card or Message

January 15, 2021

It can be difficult to find the right words to comfort someone who is grieving a loss and writing a sympathy message can be just as difficult. Choosing your words carefully for your condolences allows you to communicate the message that you really want to convey. Be sure to put some time and thought into your message but keep it short and from the heart.

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Condolence messages require sensitivity, mindfulness, and thoughtfulness as well as sympathy. There are also possibly hurtful messages and clichés to avoid. Here are some ideas:

What should be written to someone who has lost a loved one?

Because it is understandably challenging to find the right words to comfort someone, a simple expression of sympathy,such as, “I’m sorry for your loss” or “My deepest condolences to you during this time” can be all that is needed to express your sympathy in a way that tactfully acknowledges the loss.

You can also offer your help or support to the person in mourning with phrases such as, “We want to let you know that we are here for you if you need anything. Know that you are not alone and that if you ever need to talk, please don’t hesitate to reach out.”

Memories bring comfort. Express your wishes for their own memories to bring comfort and share one or two of your own. It’s wonderful to hear someone else’s perspective of a loved one. “May all the sweet memories of your mom bring you comfort at this time. I hope that all the great moments that you were able to have with her before she passed away bring you solace. I’ll never forget the time that your mom…”

It’s okay to admit that you just don’t have the words to express your feelings, especially in the case of a sudden loss or accidental death. You can write, “I’m at a loss for words. I know there is nothing for me to say that will make your loss easier but know that I am sending you my love and support.”

Remember to finish off your message so that it reads as complete and close your message by signing it. You could close with “Know that my heart goes out to you.” And sign it “Kindly,” “Warmly,” or “Love,” depending on how close you are to the person who will receive it.

For more examples, here are 50+ Messages of Sympathy.

What should not be written when expressing sympathy?

 While there is no set prescription to conveying the right message to someone who has lost a loved one, there are some insensitive phrases and clichés that people often write during a loss that should be avoided in order not to offend the mourner.

You might be tempted to show support by telling the person grieving that you have experienced grief, too, but everyone experiences grief differently. So, rather than saying, “I know how you feel,” you might start with an acknowledgment that loss is painful, and that you know what he or she is experiencing is difficult.

And while the acute pain of a loss usually diminishes over time, avoid saying things like “time will heal” or “at least he’s not suffering” which can appear to minimize the mourner’s pain.  Instead, say something that relates to the difficulty of the loss such as, “I realize that this must be a very difficult time for you.”

When writing down your condolences to someone who has lost a loved one, express yourself simply and with heartfelt emotion to express your sympathies and acknowledge the difficulty of the experience of loss.


Jim Kenny

12/24/2022 at 12:28 am

As a dear friend of johnnie Ahls for nearly half of a century I can with great sorrow say that the world is a lesser place without his presence and his magnanimous and contagious sense of love and affection for his friends and family. One can never forget the many "beer balls" consumed at the wall next to Lambert's at Gunrock Beach. As a landlord and the proud teacher and financiers to Bob Peters about the importance of being a great landlord, I can't emphasize the importance and thanks to "Johnnie" for the many winter nights I woke Jonn to help install boilers that went down in the middle of night, and John's selflessness to assure no family ever went without heat. You will be missed my friend and I only wish we had been able to spend more time together as the years passed. Your friend..........Jim Kenny

Kathy McCawley

05/09/2021 at 11:14 pm

I was blessed to have the privilege of being part of Pat's circle . I considered her not only a friend but a mentor. She saw things clearly and never steared me wrong. Admittedly I came into the circle on my Dad's coattails. Not a bad ride. But once in. I was never letting go. The greatest gift I received from Nurse Pat was the love and compassion and care and loyalty and guidance that she gave to my Dad. I am grateful every day. I know that she loved me; she would tell me . She knew that I loved her. I told her. Kathy McCawley

June marie kimpel

03/25/2021 at 6:38 pm

Hi, I knew patricia mary comedy dennihan I would like to say I am sorry that she has passed on and that she was my best friend. I worked with her for a long while at Chilton House in the dining hall. She is such a life time friend, even a best friend. I will miss her so much. She use to buy me coffees and she would take me to Wal Mart to help her with the groceries she needed to buy. She will be missed. Love June marie kimpel

Helen lutes

02/19/2021 at 4:57 pm

So sorry to hear of Helen's passing prayers for the family

Carl zingarelli

02/16/2021 at 3:36 pm

I am sorry to hear of your passing , you were one of the great people I had the pleasure of knowing. I wish you a safe journey 🙏 ❤, I will pray for you 🙏

Paula White Cashman

02/16/2021 at 8:20 am

Carol was always smiling and so nice to everyone. We went to Fontbonne together.

Preslye Elveus

02/10/2021 at 3:07 am

My deepest condolences to you during this time. I want to let you know that we are here for you if you need anything, and if you ever need to talk, please don’t hesitate to reach out. 💕 Love 💕 Preslye Elveus

Isabel Ventre

01/26/2021 at 5:48 pm

To Margot’s Family, I got to know Margo under unusual circumstances! We both had broken our ankles. So we always had this connection. Whenever I would see her, whether at Stop&Shop or The Fruit Center, we always spent time together talking and laughing about our families. I think that happened about 35 years ago. Your mother was a wonderful kind beautiful woman. I was so glad I got to know her. So sorry for your loss.

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