20+ Better Ways to Say or Give Your ‘Heartfelt Sympathy’

Updated

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. 

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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.


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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.

18. Photobook

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.

More Heartfelt Sympathy Messages to Share After a Loss

Here are several more sympathy messages to help you write one of your own. If you’re still having a hard time, just remember this: As long as your message is heartfelt and genuine, the person you give it to will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

19. [Name], I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of your father. He was one of the greatest men I knew. Everyone at the firm held him in the highest respect. He will be missed greatly and remembered fondly by all of us.

Did you work with the deceased? It’s appropriate to mention your connection in a sympathy card and share how the person’s life impacted you and your coworkers. Identifying your relationship with the deceased is also helpful for family members reading the card who may not know you.

20. Your sister was such a sweet woman. She touched the lives of many animals and volunteers alike. She never met an animal or person that she couldn’t get to like her. We’ll sure miss her joyful presence at the animal shelter. 

If you worked with the deceased in a voluntary capacity, share how their volunteer work made an impact. Sharing a message like this helps the family see how the person’s life impacted people and how their legacy might continue.

21. [Name], I never had the chance to meet you or your husband in person, but I’ve read his works and listened to his lectures many times online. If there is one person who influenced me the most to start my own business, it was your husband. In his honor, I’ll be donating all the proceeds of one business day each year on the anniversary of his death to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. 

Do you need to send a message to someone you’ve never known but who had a tremendous impact on your life? Simply share why you’re sending the message and how you knew of the deceased. If you plan to do something in their honor, mention this in your message, as well.

22. I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of your mother. Though I never met her, the stories you’ve shared make me feel as though I did. She was a wonderful woman and will be remembered fondly by many she never even met. That’s quite a legacy!

If you never met the deceased but you heard of them, reference what you do know. Share a message like this to bring comfort and a smile to a grieving family member.

Where Else Can You Share Your Memorial Card Message?

If you’re looking for other places to share a memorial card message, there are a few options that have become popular. Here are our favorites.

Social media

Social media has become quite popular for sharing memorial messages and other tributes. The most important thing to determine is which platform the family uses so they’re more likely to see what you post.

In general, if you want to post a lengthy message with a picture or video clip, use Facebook or Instagram. If you have a short message of no more than a line or two, use Twitter.

Online memorial page

Online memorial pages are the perfect way to connect family members and friends no matter where they live. Most memorial page providers offer a full suite of features including an on-page digital guest book.

Most families who set up a memorial page will share the web address in an obituary or death announcement. If available, share your memorial card message by signing the digital guest book on the memorial page. Some sites allow you to upload photos and video clips along with your message, creating the opportunity to post an especially meaningful tribute.

Funeral home memorial page

Many funeral homes provide memorial web pages to families they work with that are hosted on the funeral home website. To find out if there is a memorial page provided by the funeral home, check the funeral home’s website and search for the person’s name. If it’s there, it will show up in the search results.

Many of these platforms provide families with a digital guest book that you can sign, share a message of sympathy, and even upload a picture or video of yourself with the deceased.

Text, email, direct message, and voicemail

If you don’t feel like sharing a public message, or you want to send a deeper, more heartfelt message than is appropriate for a public posting, then send it to a family member directly. Compose your message, then copy and paste it into your preferred messaging platform. 

Whether you text, email, send a direct message, or leave a voice message, they’re sure to appreciate your sentiments, love, and care. Just remember to treat this method of sending a message similar to how you view ending a physical card. 

They may not respond to your message right away. Many families find it difficult to respond to the outpouring of love they receive while dealing with the shock of their loved one’s death and dealing with end-of-life affairs they’re responsible to take care of.

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.

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