10 tips for Sympathy Messages

Sympathy cards are a great way to show your concern to someone who has recently lost a loved one. They allow you to show empathy and compassion and can really mean a lot to the person receiving them.

However, getting the tone right can be tricky it is important that you give it a large amount of thought as to what you would like to say before you begin writing it.

It’s always a good idea to jot down a few thoughts on a separate sheet of paper before you begin. Sympathy cards should be personal and heartfelt without the overuse of clichés.

If you want to know how to write a sympathy card from the heart, here are some simple ideas to keep in mind.

1. Pick a card that’s appropriate to the person you’re sending it to

A lot of sympathy cards have religious imagery or words which can be comforting to people of faith. However, if you are not sure what the person’s beliefs are then it is best to buy a simple card that does not take religion into account. You may find it difficult to find the perfect card for the recipient but try not to worry too much. As long as the card is along the right lines you can always make it more personal with your message.

2. Keep it simple

When you have chosen an appropriate card it is time to sit down and express your sentiments in the written message. There is no need to write a lengthy note on your card. A simple message lending your support to the person in their time of need is best. It is important to write the card in black or blue ink. Writing it with a red or pink pen it could look insensitive, as though you just reached for the first pen that came to hand.

3. Address the card with the appropriate title

It may sound obvious but you should avoid using nicknames in sympathy cards as they come across as crass in the circumstances. Just address the person with the name you usually call them, unless it’s too casual.

4. Identify yourself

Make sure that you write your first and last name as sometimes sympathy cards arrive in their hundreds to the bereaved and as a result, can get mixed up. If you know the deceased but not the family then it is a good idea to include a line explaining your relationship with the deceased.

5. Avoid using the words dead or died

Sometimes the family of the deceased can find it quite difficult to hear the words ‘dead’ or ‘died’ and they can come off as quite tactless. Instead, you should say that you are ‘sorry for the person’s loss’ or that you are ‘sorry to hear that they passed away.’ You should also avoid mentioning how the person passed away. Saying that the person died of cancer or heart failure will not be comforting to the family and can sound a little insensitive.

6. Share some nice memories

It is always comforting for the family members to read about a special memory or a happy experience you may have shared with the deceased. Keep the memory light, fun and strictly positive.

Avoid anything along the lines of “David and I didn’t always see eye to eye, however, he was a great guy…..”

7. Avoid expressing your feelings

You may think it’s a good idea to share how you’re feeling about the loss personally. However, everyone experiences grief differently so it’s best just to avoid this completely. You should also avoid saying that “you know how they feel and what they are going through.” If you just tell the person that he or she is in your thoughts that will suffice.

8. Give an offer of help

Words expressed correctly can have a very positive effect but is also a good idea to back it up with the offer of some practical help. Tell the person that you will be there for him or her during this difficult time and that you will do anything the person needs to make everything easier.

9. End your note with appropriate closing

If you know the person well that you are sending the card to then you could simply end it with “Love” and then sign your name. If you are not that familiar with the person you are sending the card to then you need to use something more formal, for example; “with deepest sympathy” or “with heartfelt condolences.”

10. Say sorry with flowers

Words are not the only way to show a grieving family that they are in your thoughts. Flowers are a great way to show that you are thinking about them. The most common type of floral arrangements for funerals are of course wreaths, other options include cushions, posies and baskets and casket sprays – take a look at the selection of Sympathy Flowers from


Lily Calyx is our in-house flower whisperer, an expert on all things botanical and an enthusiastic orchids collector. She loves discussing the insights of the secret world of flowers, shares her gardening tips and hacks and moons over the latest additions to Serenata Flowers flower range. Ask Lily anything about flowers and we can guarantee she will have the answer.


  1. Beverley

    thank you for your advice on writing a sympathy card my husband died i got 500 plus sympathy cards a i was 41 second wife and i did not know who half cards where from as i come from large family and he didnt keep in touch with his mums side do you have a book on messages of verses for cards ?

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