When you learn of someone’s passing, it can be difficult to know just what to say. What communicates your empathy and love without sounding trite or cold? Phrases such as “heartfelt sympathy” have their place, but often fall short in communicating the deeper meaning behind your sentiment.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- How to Show Your Heartfelt Sympathy on Social Media
- How to Show Your Heartfelt Sympathy in a Note or Letter
- How to Show Your Heartfelt Sympathy With a Present or Basket
If you’re looking for appropriate ways to show someone you care and are deeply sorry for their recent loss, consider the following options. When choosing which method to communicate your sympathy, consider first what the person you know would find to be the most encouraging. If they are never on social media, then you probably don’t want to use a social media platform as your method for communicating your condolences.
The most important rule when expressing sympathy is to make sure you do so in a way that is accessible to the person you intend to share it with. It won’t do any good if they never see your social media sympathy messages.
How to Show Your Heartfelt Sympathy on Social Media
Social media is a fantastic way to communicate and share how sorry you are for someone’s loss. As long as they are active on the same platforms as you, you can use both your own page as well as messages to communicate with the person you know. Here are several messages and actions you can take that communicate sympathy with someone who has recently lost a friend or loved one.
1. Post on their timeline
If the death has already been made public and everyone is aware of the occurrence, the first place you can go to post a message of sympathy is on their timeline.
A person’s timeline is ideal because they will receive your words of encouragement right away, but they aren’t obligated to respond back immediately. Timeline messages also provide a grieving friend or loved one the opportunity to receive a sympathy message and read it when they are ready.
2. Send a private or direct message
Most social media platforms have a built-in private messaging system. If you are close to the person you want to encourage, send them a direct message to say sorry for your loss. They may not respond right away, but they will get your message and be encouraged.
Private messaging is especially appropriate if you’re unsure of whether everyone has been made aware of the death. Saying something publicly on social media can cause hurt feelings if close friends or family have yet to be told. If in doubt, send your sympathy message privately.
3. Post a tribute
If you knew the person who passed away as well as someone close to them, it might be appropriate to post a tribute with pictures of the person who passed, you, and the friend or loved you are grieving with.
Being reminded of the good times you all had together can provide a special time of healing for the person who especially feels the loss of their loved one or friend.
4. ‘I am so sorry to hear of Jane’s passing. She was a wonderful friend to us all. I’ll never forget the first day of college when she befriended me. She will be so very missed.’
A message such as this is simple and straightforward but also ties in a memory you have of the person. Use your sympathy message as an opportunity to remember something wonderful about the person who passed away. Insert your own memory to bring a smile to those who read your message if posted publicly.
5. ‘We miss her here on earth, but heaven gained an angel today.’
A message of this type is especially appropriate for the very old or very young or someone you knew to be particularly loving and kind.
Some people leave a lasting mark on our lives, and that influence will never leave, even when they are taken away. A message of this kind emphasizes just how special the person was to you.
6. ‘Bob was a wonderful man. He served his community selflessly and was an inspiration to us all. I miss him already.’
Use your message to share something you know about or remember about the person who passed away. Memories provide encouragement to the person who is feeling particularly lonely after the loss of their loved one or friend.
How to Show Your Heartfelt Sympathy in a Note or Letter
For many people, receiving a note or letter is a deeply touching act. Notes and letters go beyond conventional means of messaging or texting. Sending a hand-written note or letter means you had to sit down and take time out of your busy schedule to think about another person. This is deeply touching for many people.
Simply keep in mind the rules of sympathy card etiquette, and you will find a grateful recipient on the other end.
7. ‘No one can replace the wonderful person your Grandmother was. She was treasured by everyone, myself included. I’m so thankful I got to know her. Keep her memories close, and she will always be with you.’
This message can be used for anyone from a beloved mentor to a distant friend. The universal truth remains that their presence may be gone, but memories will last for a lifetime.
8. ‘Our hearts hurt with yours at the loss of your mom. She was a wonderful woman who cared about everyone she knew. We carry her memories and humor with us fondly.’
This message can be tailored to anyone. Simply convey your sorrow over a person’s passing and share something you remember about them that you’ll never forget.
9. ‘We are so sorry to hear about the passing of your dad. We are here for you and your family in this difficult time.’
Extending words of support in a sympathy card can bring tremendous encouragement. Use this opportunity to tell a grieving person that they’ll be in your thoughts and prayers.
10. Write a poem
If you are a wordsmith, write a poem that says how sorry you are for a person’s loss, or create a poem about the person who passed away.
Poems can be beautiful and touching when thoughtfully and carefully put together. Be sure to include a personal note explaining the poem, why you wrote it, and a note of sympathy, as well.
11. Paint a picture
For those with artistic talent, consider painting a small watercolor portrait of the person who passed away.
Paint the person alone, with another member of the family, or doing something they loved. While not everyone can do something like this, if you can, it will be a very touching tribute to your friend or loved one.
12. Share a verse or quote
If the person you are writing to is religious, share a favorite selection of scripture with them. Verses can be very comforting during times of grief and loss. If they aren’t particularly religious, choose a special quote to include in your note, instead.
How to Show Your Heartfelt Sympathy With a Present or Basket
Sometimes, providing more than a message or letter can go a long way to help someone get through a difficult season of grief. Giving someone a present or a gift can also help show them how much you love them, how sorry you are for their loss, and how much you care.
13. Healthy foods gift basket
The last thing someone wants to do while dealing with the loss of a loved one or close friend is think about grocery shopping. While you may not be able to take care of their entire grocery trip, providing a gift basket of healthy food and snack items can take a load off.
When they need something beneficial to keep them going, they’ll reach for your gift, and thank you for it. Be sure to include a message stating how sorry you are for their loss.
14. Fresh bagel delivery
If you know that your friend or loved one will be having guests stay over for a funeral or time of mourning, give them a fresh bagel delivery.
Let them know you’ll be taking care of breakfast one day and take this to-do item off their list. Include a card with a message of your sympathy and care.
15. Personalized sympathy present
Depending on how well you know the person you’re giving a gift to, consider creating a personalized sympathy present.
Include things such as a beautiful mug, special tea, biscotti, a “healing through grief” book, a journal, and a special keepsake box to store notes, pictures, and the journal in.
16. Bouquet of flowers
This is separate from any flowers sent for the funeral. This is specifically for a person who is grieving to bring a little bright spot into their day.
Send the flowers with a sympathy card to express how much you care.
17. Therapy subscription box
When it comes to subscription boxes, therapy boxes are some of the best out there. These often come with mindfulness activities to help someone focus on joy and peace, guided journaling exercises, spa-care items, and goodies to help someone relax, rest, and de-stress.
Include a handwritten note or card that conveys your sympathy, care, and concern.
Even though most of our pictures are digital these days, there are few things as touching as a photobook with pictures, mementos, and notes to go along with each.
If you knew the person who passed away and have pictures of them, consider creating a photo book and gifting to the bereaved.
Share in Sorrow
Figuring out what to say to someone who is grieving can be difficult. Just remember to share from the heart with sincerity. If you do that, your words will bring tremendous encouragement during a difficult and discouraging time.