How to Address a Sympathy Card to Families + Individuals


Cake values integrity and transparency. We follow a strict editorial process to provide you with the best content possible. We also may earn commission from purchases made through affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more in our affiliate disclosure.

Many people don’t write cards anymore, given the ease of emailing, texting, or even calling someone. There are a lot of faster ways to express a thought or communicate nowadays. A death or sudden sickness of a loved one usually requires an extra step of support, however.

Sending a physical card is extremely valuable to help not only serve as a physical reminder of your love and support but handwritten words of encouragement and hope.

Our Top Sympathy Card Picks

Jump ahead to these sections:

If someone close to you is feeling lonely, or sad, seeing cards from loved ones can often help cheer them up. 

All the cards in the world make it harder, not easier to send the ‘perfect’ card, despite the variety. There are seemingly endless options for sympathy cards on Amazon. You can get the card, but then what? You may not be sure how to address the card. You may not know how to start, even if you’re written sympathy messages before. Whether you’re an avid letter writer or have never sent one in your life, we’ve got plenty of tips.

How to Address a Sympathy Card to One Person

How to Address a Sympathy Card to One Person

If you’re writing to one person, it might be important to include certain details in your sympathy card.

For instance, if you’re addressing it to one person, they might not have a family around them. If that’s the case, then what can you do? Other sympathy cards, like ones addressed to entire families, might focus on the sentiment. Wishing them peace during this difficult time, reminding them that you’re praying could be a good start. But when it comes to sending a card to one person, you could offer concrete help. Would they like to go out for coffee to chat? Or would they like you to bring a meal to their house?

Making these offers really helps your sympathy card stick, especially if you’re trying to show much you care and support them during this difficult time. 

Postal address example

How can you address an envelope? You should always put your address in the upper left-hand corner of the envelope. If you have the incorrect address for your intended recipient, the postal service needs to be able to return it. Additionally, the recipient will probably want to write a thank-you note. But if they don’t have your address on hand, that adds an unnecessary step of difficulty. Put the recipient’s address in the center of the envelope. 

To write their address, start with their name on the top line. Then, write their street address. Follow it up with their apartment or unit number, if that information is applicable. Write their city name, their state, and their postal address. Then you’re done!

An example of a proper address is:

Jane Doe
123 Main Street
Philadelphia PA, 12345

Sample beginning letter to one person

“Dear Jane, 

I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Your mother really made a big difference in my life, and she was an important mentor figure. I have so many special memories with her, and I know you do too …”

» MORE: An online memorial is a perfect ending to honor and celebrate someone's life. Create one for free.

How to Address a Sympathy Card to a Whole Family

Writing to a whole family might feel a little awkward. After all, you’re probably much closer to one member of the family. But if you want to support the whole family, it’s important to make your message broad enough for all family members to read.

Postal address example

Depending on the family’s size, you can write the top line of the address in two different ways. For instance, what if it’s a couple? In that case, you can write to John and Jane Doe. But if the family is larger, it might be difficult to fit on the envelope. If that’s the case, write The Doe Family. 

Here's an example:

The Doe Family
456 Main Street, Apt. 123
Seattle WA, 12345

Sample beginning letter to an entire family 

“Dear Doe Family, 

I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother/grandmother. She was such a special woman, and I’m honored to have gotten the chance to meet her...” 

How to Address a Sympathy Card to Someone Who Lost a Partner or Spouse

It’s important to be sensitive when addressing a card like this. For instance, it might be painful to write “Mrs. John Smith.” This type of address might be what they’re used to seeing. But it might serve as a painful reminder of their spouse. Use your best judgment to decide how to write out your condolences card. 

Postal address example

If you’re sending this card overseas, the address will likely look a little different. But if you’re sending it to a U.S. address, it’s relatively straightforward. Write it out with their name, followed by their street address, city name, state, and zip code.

If you aren’t confident in their address, do your best to confirm it. But if you can’t, be sure to write a return address. That way, the post office will return it to you. 

Sample beginning letter to someone who lost their spouse or partner

“Dear John, 

I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your wife, Jane. I had so many fun times with her. As you know, we were roommates during college. Setting you up on a blind date was one of the best things I ever did...” 

» MORE: Online obituary that is 100% free. Honor a loved one beyond a newspaper.

How to Address a Sympathy Card to a Married Couple

How to Address a Sympathy Card to a Married Couple

It’s important to be sensitive toward someone’s preferences, especially when addressing an envelope to a married couple. Don’t assume that someone took their partner’s name. And be conscious of how they like to be addressed. For instance, some couples love being addressed in the traditional way: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith. Others prefer a little more individuality in their address. 

Postal address example

Write out the addresses in standard format. It might read something like this:

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
123 Sample Avenue
New York City, NY, 12345

This makes sure it will get delivered properly. But you might not be sending it to their home address. Instead, you might be sending it to their work. If that’s the case, the top line of the recipient’s address should be the company name, followed by “Attn: [Name].”

Sample beginning letter to a married couple

“Dear John and Jane, 

I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your daughter. She was such a bright, kind kid. I loved taking her to Disneyland with you guys. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do...” 

How to Address a Sympathy Card to an Acquaintance

If you’re addressing a card to an acquaintance, it’s crucial that you take the time to make sure their name is spelled properly. If their name isn’t familiar to you, it’s easy to misspell it. This is especially true since so many names have creative variations.

For instance, you might be sure that their name is Megan. But is it spelled Meghan, Meaghan, or Megan? Maybe it’s some variant you’ve never seen. If you’re not sure, try to double-check the spelling. 

Postal address example

Writing out the postal address can be made easier if you know their exact location. Sometimes, you might have a general address. It might not come with a unit or suite number.

If you do have that information, write it out like this:

123 Main Street, Apt. 456
Richmond VA, 12345

Sample beginning letter to an acquaintance 

“Dear Meagan, 

I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time…” 

» MORE: Grief can be lonely. Create space for your community to share memories and tributes with a free online memorial from Cake.

How to Address a Sympathy Card to a Coworker, Client, or Boss

How to Address a Sympathy Card to a Coworker, Client, or Boss

To write out a professional sympathy card, it’s important to maintain some boundaries. Of course, you want to be as empathetic as possible and if your words can help someone feel better, go for it.

Just recognize that their world has been shaken up, and to give them space during this time. This card can accompany any of your sympathy gift ideas, too. 

Postal address example

You might be able to send it directly to their home address. Otherwise, you might only have their work address.

If that’s the case, write out their postal address like this:

[Company Name]
ATTN: [Name]
123 Main Street
New York City, NY, 12345

That will make sure the mail is routed to their desks properly.

Sample beginning letter to a coworker, client, or boss

“Dear John, 

I’m sorry to hear about your loss. I’d love to accept your invitation to attend the funeral, and please know that my thoughts are with you during this difficult time...” 

Writing out Sympathy Cards

Putting your feelings down in a card to send condolences can be a sobering experience. It can cause you to draw closer to your loved ones or also consider looking at what your end-of-life planning may look like.

Regardless, by preparing to help others after learning how to address and sign sympathy cards, you’re ready to offer your condolences during difficult moments. 

Icons sourced from FlatIcon.