Sharing a message of sympathy can feel like an art form. If you find it hard to put how you feel into words, you’re not alone. What do you say when someone’s husband dies? How do you approach the death of your friend’s child? What do you say when your coworker’s spouse dies unexpectedly? Even more importantly, what do you say when someone practices a different religion than you are?
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Buddhist Sympathy Messages for the Loss of a Parent
- Buddhist Condolence Messages for the Loss of a Sibling
- Buddhist Sympathy Card Messages for the Loss of a Friend
- Buddhist Sympathy Messages for the Loss of a Partner or Spouse
- Buddhist Condolence Messages for the Loss of a Child
- Buddhist Condolence Gift Ideas
- Common Places to Share a Condolence Message
It’s important to say sorry for your loss in a way that a person can relate the best. For Buddhists, this means staying away from cliches and assumptions about the loss of life. Words like “heaven,” “paradise” and saying, “You’ll see him again someday” isn’t appropriate for a Buddhist loved one who believes in an endless cycle of life and death that never ends.
Instead, use quotes, pieces of scripture, and condolences based on their faith to encourage them in their time of grief.
Buddhist Sympathy Messages for the Loss of a Parent
Whether you’re going to a Buddhist funeral or you need to send a card to a Buddhist friend or family member, share Buddhist condolences instead.
1. I’m so sorry to hear about your mom’s death. She was the most generous person I have ever met. She must have truly understood the good that comes of giving to those around her. I want to live up to her example.
The Buddhist principle of karma is intertwined into every part of life. For Buddhists, what is done on earth will matter in the next left to come. Point to the good karma that a person was known for as a way to encourage the family members grieving over their loss.
2. Bud was the wisest, smartest man I’ve ever known. I’m thankful I got to know him and will miss him. When I think of Bud, I think of this quote from Buddha, “To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.” Bud had both.
Referencing the beliefs, faith, and tenets of a Buddhist is an appropriate way to talk about a loved one’s passing. Mention the good things he did and the way he lived his life according to Buddhist beliefs. These things will provide comfort to a grieving family member.
3. Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.
Was the parent who passed away a particularly wise, caring, giving, and considerate person? If so, this beautiful quote from Buddha is appropriate to place on a condolence card. Bringing to mind the person’s good qualities and attributes is a way to place emphasis on good karma and provide the deceased’s children with encouragement and comfort.
Buddhist Condolence Messages for the Loss of a Sibling
Buddhists place emphasis on honoring people for the way they lived while on earth and remembering their good deeds. Messages that contain thoughts and memories of the person that passed away are highly appropriate when sending condolences.
Though the type of message or form of condolences you offer might be different than you’re used to, it’s important to remember that basic sympathy card etiquette rules still apply.
4. Your sister was a beautiful person in heart and spirit. She has forever inspired the way I will view the world, the life we live, and our role as human beings here on earth.
If the person had a profound impact on your life, share the above sentiment with the deceased’s brother or sister. It can be an encouragement to siblings to know that the deceased had a positive impact on others.
5. But those who act according to the perfectly taught Dharma will cross the realm of death, so difficult to cross.
Did the sibling who passed away live a life of faith according to Buddhist doctrine? If so, this quote from Buddha might be comforting when added to a card. Encourage a brother or sister to look at a sibling’s life and know that they have passed over, thanks to an adherence to Buddha’s teachings.
6. I didn’t know your brother well but I know he loved his family and worked hard. He was loved by everyone and his presence will be missed deeply. May he come to eternal rest from samsara and reach nirvana.
Share the good things you know about the person who passed away. Give him a blessing by wishing for his eternal rest from the death and life cycle. Whether you knew the person well or not, condolences such as these should be well received.
Buddhist Sympathy Card Messages for the Loss of a Friend
Sympathy messages are important, regardless of the person who passed away. Even though Buddhists believe in a continuous cycle of life and death and reincarnation, the loss experienced in this life is still felt deeply. Send one of these messages to comfort someone who has lost a friend by affirming any beliefs.
7. Her life was like a garland of beautiful deeds that graced the earth with beauty, color, and grace.
This message is based on a quote from Buddha that talks about a life well-lived. Even in death, it is a person’s deeds that will be remembered most by those who are left behind.
8. Jenny touched so many lives with her kindness and love. She fulfilled this saying from Buddha: “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
For Buddhists, the impact they have on other peoples’ lives is important for good karma. Encourage a friend by reminding her of the positive influence her loved one had on the lives of those around her. If you have a personal memory, sharing it is appropriate.
9. Anya had a heart of gold and I’m sorry she is no longer with us. I know you will miss her terribly, as will all who knew her. I’m glad you got to spend so much time with her and share in her life.
Though death is part of samsara, a person’s absence is still felt keenly. Mentioning how sorry you are that the person is no longer present is a message that is always welcomed.
Buddhist Sympathy Messages for the Loss of a Partner or Spouse
All Buddhists view time on earth as part of a cycle. No one is permanently attached to another person, nor do they believe that they’ll “see each other again in heaven.” Because of this, many of the common sayings used for spouses will not apply. The best route to take is to write what you admired about the person who passed away and encourage their spouse by talking about the good the deceased did in life.
10. There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting. I just want to let you know that I am proud to have known your husband. He was a man who truly went all the way in his pursuit of truth.
Share what you remember about the person who passed away. Telling the deceased’s spouse about the good things you remember can provide encouragement through the sorrow of loss.
11. Greg was a wonderful man with a generous heart and mind that sought the ways of truth. I’m thankful I got to know him and will always be reminded to love others because of his example. Your husband was a wonderful man.
Encourage a grieving partner by pointing out the good things her spouse did in his lifetime.
12. I’m so sorry for your loss. Jeff loved you deeply and set the example of what a marriage should look like. I hope to have a marriage like yours someday.
If the spouse demonstrated how to be a good husband, father, employee, or another member of society, mention this in your condolences.
Buddhist Condolence Messages for the Loss of a Child
Experiencing the loss of a child is heartbreaking, no matter which religion a person follows. Rather than pointing to a child’s good karma, use appropriate quotes from Buddha and messages from your heart to encourage a grieving parent. Here are several messages you can use.
13. Bobby was a precious child and loved by all. We hope you can take comfort in knowing that “joyous and clear like the lake… he is free from life and death.”
The loss of a child is profoundly painful. Be sure to steer away from meaningless cliches and trite phrases.
14. I am so sorry to hear of Janet’s passing. She was a wonderful person with a heart of gold and will be missed terribly.
Even if you don’t know the child well, you can share a sentiment such as this on a card to grieving parents.
15. This world is shrouded in darkness. Here, only a few can see their way free. These few birds escape from the net and fly away to the heavens. I’m so sorry your precious little girl had to fly away from this world. She will be missed by us all and remembered every time we see a bird take flight.
Communicate the fact that the child won’t be forgotten. Give a mourning mother or father something to hold onto, a way to continue upholding the child’s memory each day for the rest of their lives — like remembering their child every time a bird flies by.
Buddhist Condolence Gift Ideas
If you would like to bring or send a condolence gift to your Buddhist loved ones or friends, these gift ideas will bring comfort. Each of these ideas is appropriate for Buddhists to receive, regardless of whether the giver is a Buddhist or not.
For Buddhists, white flowers are the traditional mourning flower. White represents purity, rest, and mourning and is the most appropriate color for funeral flowers. Any white flower or combination of white flowers is appropriate for a bouquet, spray, or wreath.
Stick to white flowers only, however, as other colors symbolize feelings that are considered inappropriate when mourning. For example, red symbolizes joy and should never be mixed in with a white bouquet.
Pro-tip: You may present flowers to the family in their home or another location, but it is considered taboo to send them to the funeral home.
Vegetarian gift basket
Food plays a big part in Buddhist ceremonies held after the funeral service. These ceremonies may occur in the temple or the home of the bereaved, and food is a vital part. Providing food as a condolence gift for the family is generally seen as appropriate for both Buddhists and non-Buddhists.
If you’re uncertain whether the family would appreciate a food basket, ask a family member that you know if this would be a good choice.
Pro-tip: While not all Buddhists are vegetarian, many are. To avoid issues with the food in your condolence gift basket, choose vegetarian options that anyone may enjoy. Platters of dried fruit and nuts are always welcomed.
A gift to charity
Giving to charity on behalf of the deceased is always welcomed. In Buddhism, a good deed done upon another person’s behalf transfers the good to the person in whose honor it was done. In this case, a gift to charity for the deceased means that the deceased receives the positive merits as if they had donated to the charity themselves.
Pro-tip: Many charities provide you with a card you can present to the family of the deceased that tells them a donation was made in honor of their loved one. These cards do not specify how much was given.
What else can you give besides a gift? You can provide the family with your support. If you’re unable to attend services or gathering times after the funeral, send a text message, write an email, or send a video message. Simply checking in on them to let them know you’re thinking of them can go a long way as they grieve and mourn.
Common Places to Share a Condolence Message
There are plenty of places where you can share a condolence message to make sure the family of the deceased receives it. Here are several of the most common.
Social media platforms are excellent for sharing a message of sympathy or condolence when a person passes away. There are several ways you can go about this, so choose the option that works best for you and the family.
- Facebook: You can share a message on your personal page and tag or you can share a message on the page of a grieving family member. The person should see the message either way as long as you tag the name of the person if you post the message on your personal page.
- Twitter: This platform provides a very small number of characters, so your message will have to be short and concise. This isn’t the best option if you want to share a lengthy message.
- Instagram: If you have a picture or video you’d like to attach to your sympathy message, Instagram is a great place to post it. Like Facebook, you can share your message on your own wall or on someone else’s.
Online memorial page
Most online memorial pages provide a family with space to upload an obituary, a biography, a video and picture gallery, and a digital guest book for friends and family members to sign.
If the person you know has an online memorial page, look it up and find out if there is a digital guest book. If there is, you can generally post any size message and even upload a special picture or video clip in tribute to the deceased. Some memorial pages also provide ways to send digital flowers and give to a charity on behalf of the deceased.
Funeral home obituary page
Many funeral homes are also offering obituary pages or memorial pages to families who use their services. These pages are similar to an online memorial page, but you’ll find it directly on the funeral home website.
Depending on the funeral home’s website, you might be provided with a limited amount of room for your message, though most provide unlimited space for your condolence message. Some sites provided by the funeral home allow you to upload a picture or video clip into a photo or video gallery, as well. You may even find a donate button that allows you to give to a charity on behalf of the deceased.
Sympathy Given with Thoughtfulness and Love
Sympathy and condolence cards can go far in helping a mourner know that he isn’t alone in grief. By sharing a message applicable to the mourner’s faith, you’ll also show the mourner how much you care.
If you're looking for more ways to show your sympathy, read our guides on sympathy jewelry and how to send a sympathy ecard.