It’s often difficult to find the right words for a condolence message. Emotions are heightened—whether they’re ours or the ones we witness in the bereaved—and we worry about making matters worse or just want to avoid it altogether.
There are no perfect words of sympathy, nothing that will make grief disappear. However, heartfelt expressions of support and understanding can be treasured after a difficult loss. Don’t worry about perfection: a brief note to tell the grieving family that you care will bring comfort during a painful time.
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Sympathy cards and notes can be a way to offer emotional or practical support to the bereaved after a loss. They can be a way to acknowledge and empathize with the feelings of others. And they can be a way to share your feelings as well as a memory of the person who has died.
Sometimes the newly bereaved are in a traumatized state and are not able to speak with you. Sending condolences, along with a gift basket, fresh flowers, or another sympathy gift if you are unable to attend the funeral or memorial services is a way to let them know that they are in your thoughts.
Components of Signing a Heartfelt Sympathy Card Message
Even a brief sympathy message can be warm and comforting. It may provide guidance and support that can help the bereaved deal with the passing. Ideally, the tone of the note should convey tenderness, respect, and empathy.
Be sensitive to the cultural and religious beliefs of the individual or family when reaching out. Unless you share religious traditions, you may wish to avoid imposing your views on death and the afterlife and focus on secular words with shared impact. Humor may be appropriate in some situations, but tread carefully and be sure to acknowledge the gravity of the situation before attempting to lighten the mood.
The following can help you write a heartfelt sympathy note:
- Salutations and opening words
- Condolence phrases for the body of the letter
- Phrases for offering help
- Final thoughts and blessings
Salutations and opening words
Begin by greeting the recipient and expressing condolences for their loss. For example: “To The Jeffersons, we extend our heartfelt sympathy,” or “Dearest friend, please accept my sincere condolences.”
Condolence phrases for the body of a letter
Next, take a moment to say something kind about the deceased, whether that’s a memory or an overall statement of his/her legacy. For example: “Sheila was an extraordinary woman. So many in our community will miss her terribly.” Or, “I will remember your nephew as a loving and caring boy who always had a smile.”
Phrases for offering help
A condolence message is a perfect opportunity to make an offer to help the bereaved in practical ways. Whether it's errands that they’re unable to deal with, meals, transportation, or just a shoulder to cry on, there are many ways to be useful. It’s even better they don’t need to follow up and ask, as they may be too overwhelmed.
For instance, if you're bringing food for the grieving family, say “I’m making a casserole and will drop it off so that you don’t need to cook for a few days.”
Final thoughts and blessings
Before signing off, offer a statement of support for the bereaved. For example: “Our sympathy and thoughts are with you.” Or, “May your many memories of Steven help to sustain you at this most difficult time.”
Share your wishes, just in case.
Send your end-of-life preferences—including your health, legacy, legal, and funeral choices—with your loved ones. Create a free Cake profile to get started.
Sympathy Card Signature Examples
We hope the suggestions below help you get past any obstacles in your card writing journey. You may need to mix and match, add your own flourishes, or change details to make the messages fit, but you will have a wealth of options and ideas to draw from.
Expressing condolences can be awkward, and most of us don’t have much practice, but remember that saying something is almost always better than saying nothing at all.
If you can muster up the courage to address the loss and grief directly, you will be helping yourself, the bereaved, and the relationship you share. If you haven’t said or written anything, it often becomes even more difficult to see the person who is grieving and begin a conversation face-to-face.
Don’t worry about perfection, just let your sincerity and compassion shine through. Avoid writing things that dismiss the recipient’s grief, such as “He/She is in a better place,” or “You can always [have another child/remarry].”
If you’re signing as a close family member
- Our family will always endure and we will support each other through this painful loss. With love at this difficult time, [Signature].
- [Name] always brought such sincerity and generosity into his/her relationships with us. I will miss him/her and the spirit he/she brought to our family. Sharing your sadness, [Signature].
- Our whole family shares in your sorrow. We are grateful to be in your family and hope we can comfort and strengthen you during this difficult time. With love and kinship, [Signature].
- [Name] touched so many people with his/her generosity and kind heart. Let us find strength together during this sad time, [Signature].
- [Name] brought such joy into our lives. I hope we can celebrate the life he/she lived and remember the good times our family has shared. Sharing your sorrow, [Signature].
If you’re signing as a close friend
- My heart aches for you. Please know that I am here if you need anything. I’ll touch base next week to see how you’re doing. Remembering you and [Name] today and always, [Signature]
- I share so much sorrow for your loss. I am here for you through this painful time. My love and deepest sympathies to you and your family, [Signature]
- You and your family are held in my heart. I am thankful to be a part of your life and hope I can offer you some measure of comfort and strength during this painful time. With deepest sympathy, [Signature]
- Deep condolences to you and your amazing family. I am here for you if you need someone to listen to or lean on. With heartfelt sympathy, [Signature]
If you’re signing from a business
- We are grateful to have you as a member of our team and are deeply saddened to hear of your loss. You are in our thoughts. Wishing you healing, [Signature]
- We are saddened to learn of your loss, we hope you know we are by your side. Please accept our sincere condolences, [Signature]
- All of us here are so deeply sorry for your painful loss. We hope we can bring you some healing. Take all the time you need. With sincere sympathy, [Signature]
- Our hearts are filled with sadness after hearing of your loss. Know that we are thinking of you and your family during this challenging time. Wishing you healing, [Signature]
- Wishing you comfort and peace through this hard time. We are here for you in whatever ways you need. With caring thoughts, [Signature]
If you’re signing as a coworker
- I am so sorry to learn of your loss. May you be surrounded by strength and nurtured by compassion. May time bring you peace and healing, [Signature]
- Words can’t express how sorry I am for your loss. I want you to know I am here for you through this time of pain. With deepest sympathy, [Signature]
- Please accept my deepest condolences to you and your loved ones at this sad time. I wish you comfort and peace as you remember [Name]. With sympathy, [Signature]
- I was so saddened to hear of your loss. May you draw strength from the friends and family that surround you. Know that I’m here for you in these painful times. In caring sympathy, [Signature].
- My sincere condolences on the loss of your [Name]. Please let us know if we can support you in your healing. My sympathy and thoughts are with you, [Signature]
If you’re signing as a group
- Losing a loved one is painful, but know we’re with you as you grieve. We hope we can offer comfort and strength during this difficult time. Our sincere condolences, [Signature].
- We were deeply saddened to learn of your loss. We are remembering and honoring [Name] and the role he/she played in your life. Please know that we are here for you always, [Signature]
- We are deeply sorry for your loss. Please know you are surrounded by those who care for you and we are sending you strength and healing. With warm thoughts and prayers, [Signature]
- Sending love and comfort to you as you face this difficult loss. Our sympathy and thoughts are with you, [Signature]
- This is a painful loss, and we are so sorry you are facing this. Know you can lean on us for whatever you may need. With caring thoughts, [Signature]
Condolences, In Closing
We hope the suggestions above are helpful in your card writing journey. Of course, feel free to take what you need, and make these messages your own so they speak to your loved one in the way you feel is best.