The unfortunate reality of life is that sometimes things happen that warrant sympathy cards. When our loved ones experience loss, disaster, or difficult situations, they look to their friends and family to provide them with support and love while they cope and heal. For many, this means sending cards to express your sympathy and remind them that you’re there for them.
If you struggle with knowing what to say in a sympathy card, you aren’t alone.
When someone close to you is struggling with loss of any kind, words can feel inadequate. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can ensure to express sympathy sincerely and in a way that is sensitive to the struggle that they’re going through. There are a few sentiments to keep in mind when writing a sympathy card.
Start with a heartfelt greeting.
Many people make the mistake of writing in a sterile way to avoid saying the “wrong thing,” but what people need most in difficult times is friendship and comfort. Consider opening with a greeting like “My sweet friend,” or using their preferred nickname. This is a great way to start off on a warm foot and provide a sense of peace.
Acknowledge their loss in limited detail.
They don’t need to be reminded of all that they’re going through, but it’s important to recognize the struggle that they’re facing. Starting with an acknowledgement of their situation is a sensitive way to begin expressing your sympathy. Try something like, “I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your dad,” or “Job loss is tough, but you are tougher.” These examples avoid dwelling on the situation and allow you to get to the good stuff, aka the supporting words.
Make them feel seen and supported.
When tough things happen, many people reach out to say that they’re “there if you need anything.” But one of the best ways to actually help people in mourning is to give them options as to how you can help. This allows them to choose the kind of support they actually would benefit from and on a timeline that works well for them. A great example of this is, “let me know when I can drop off a meal on your porch.”
You can also express your support by incorporating heartfelt words about how strong you know they are, all of the ways you’ve seen them overcome adversity, and letting them know that you’re there if they need someone to talk to. The most important thing to remember is to write in a way that feels genuine and authentic so your loved one really gets a sense of your willingness to support them.
Send as promptly as possible.
When coping with loss or struggle, support is needed throughout each stage of grief. When sending or delivering a sympathy card, it’s best to do so within two weeks of the incident or loss. By stepping up and showing support within this timeframe, you exemplify what it means to be a thoughtful, supportive friend.
Extra touch– Make it more personal with a memory.
You can make the card even more personal by including an anecdote or fond memory that you shared with the deceased. It will help their loved one cope and may even bring a tearful smile to their face for a brief moment. Surviving family and friends truly appreciate knowing how their loved one touched others.